Carolingians were a leading noble family of the Germanic Franks who ruled Francia in north-west Europe. They were descendants of the Frankish clans of Arnulfing and Pippinid which existed until the 7th century. The Franks were initially ruled by the Merovingian dynasty but the Carolingians steadily rose in power over the course of centuries.
By the 8th century, Carolingians had the support of the Papacy as well as military achievements of Charles Martel at their back and proceeded to replace the Merovingian dynasty. As a people, the Carolingians adhered to the notable Frankish traditions and were especially keen in the support of the Catholic Church.
Carolingian Religious Reforms
The Franks’ conversion to Christianity began under Clovis in the 6th century. This continued over the course of time and by the 7th century, the Franks were fervent supports of Christianity. The Battle of Tours, fought by Charles Martel to stop the advance of Muslims into Europe, was especially hailed as a decisive victory for Christendom.
Martel’s descendants would later become the Carolingian dynasty and make significant changes to the nature of the religion in the Frankish society. Notable Carolingian reforms regarding Christianity included stricter requirements for the qualification as ecclesiastical personnel and the diminishing of women’s role in religious ceremonies.
During the pre-Carolingian period in the Frankish society, women under the Merovingian dynasty enjoyed relative freedom in religious affairs. This remained the case until 8th century despite wide-scale conversions to Christianity.
When Carolingian rulers assumed power over the Franks in mid-8th century, they came with the aim to impose a more puritan form of religion with the backing of the Catholic Church. This included diminishing the role of women in churches, religious activities as well as their role in the society at large.
It was under the Carolingian period that leading church personnel had to adhere to the strict requirement of celibacy and women interacting with the church personnel were often punished.
Leading Carolingian men until mid-8th century were involved in leading positions in the Frankish society. These men initially tried to revolt against the Merovingian dynasty and seize power in 651 but the attempt failed. The Carolingian men subsequently focused on amassing military power which remained the case for many decades.
When Charles Martel defeated the Moors at the Battle of Tours in early 8th century, he was a Carolingian leading the main body of Frankish warriors. The Carolingian men also consolidated their power as Mayors of the Palace, a position of utmost importance in 8th century Frankish society. It was ultimately this position which “Pepin The Short” exploited to depose his Merovingian overlord and assume kingship of the Franks, being the first Carolingian king.
Warriors were a vital part of the Frankish society during the Carolingian period. In fact, Carolingians were able to forge together a huge empire by the time of Charlemagne thanks largely to a highly organised military. Individual Frankish lords were usually tasked by the Carolingians to keep sizeable armies and rigorously train them.