Monument to Charlemagne (Charlemagne Statue) in Paris


A monument to Charles I the Great (Charlemagne Statue), the emperor of the West and the king of several states, is lost on the Place John Paul II, near the entrance to Notre-Dame-de-Paris. Despite the greatness of Charlemagne's personality and his contribution to the development of the Frankish state, Parisians ironically call the monument Charlemagne, pronouncing the Latin name of the emperor, Carolus Magnus, in the French manner.

Charles I the Great

The ancestor of the French royal dynasty of the Carolingians, who replaced the Merovingians, was an outstanding and warlike personality. He managed not only to defend his right to the throne of the Frankish state, but also received the crown of Lombardy (in northern Italy), created the kingdom of Aquitaine, the counties of Toulouse and Septimania, occupied Saxony, Bavaria and Brittany, fought with the Slavs and Avars. It was thanks to Charlemagne in the 9th century that a lasting truce came to the territory of northern and southern Europe.

The king of the Franks was a true Christian and was on excellent terms with the papal throne. Therefore, Pope Leo III, in gratitude for the suppression of the uprising in Rome and in contrast to the Byzantine emperors during the festive mass in St. Peter's Basilica, placed the crown of the Holy Roman Empire on Charles's head. Karl himself was outraged by this act of the pope and said that if he knew about it, he would not have come to church.

In his personal life, the emperor was a loving and child-loving person: six wives and three official mistresses left him numerous offspring. But, unfortunately, those of the heirs, on whom the father had high hopes, died before him.

History of the monument in Paris

The history of the appearance of the monument in Paris is curious and tragic at the same time. Charlemagne himself, according to historians, was here only twice, preferring Aachen with the imperial palace or soldiers' bivouacs during military campaigns. The monument to Charles the Great was conceived by Napoleon III to glorify the empire, and the sculptor Louis Rochet brought it to life.

It is interesting to read:  Hotel Amloux de Bissay in Paris

After working on the statues of William the Conqueror in Falaise and Peter I in Rio de Janeiro, the sculptor in 1853 began work on the image of one of the most significant people in the history of France and his choice fell on the Emperor Charlemagne. Already in 1867, a plaster version of the statute was presented at the World Exhibition, and for the World Exhibition of 1878 it was cast in bronze.

But after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871, no one in Paris was interested in the statue, albeit a great one, but already irrelevant for political reasons. And the death of the sculptor Louis Rocher almost led to the fact that the statue would simply be hidden in some warehouse or thrown into a landfill. But his brother, also a sculptor, Charles Rocher took on the cost of installing the monument. The prefecture of Paris took a long time to choose a place for the monument, but did not give money for a pedestal and payment for installation work. The sculptor had to buy a pedestal at his own expense and mount the monument in 1895. Therefore, the pedestal turned out so modest.

And in 1973, the monument almost moved to Metz, because the authorities of Paris found a triumphal column in the basements and decided to install it instead of the monument to Charlemagne. But the Metz city council did not give money for the move, and Karl I remained in place.

Bronze Charles I the Great

The image of Charlemand, embodied in bronze, is more folkloric than historically accurate. Traditionally, Charlemagne is portrayed as a venerable old man with a long beard, paying tribute to his longevity (living 70 years in the Middle Ages is no joke), which Louis Rocher did. But Karl himself never wore a beard, only a mustache, and he cut his hair short. Details of clothing and horse harness are reproduced correctly. But the scepter depicted on the monument is 500 years younger than the emperor.

It is interesting to read:  Sully Mansion in Paris

In addition, the foot figures of Charles's faithful companions - the knights of Roland and Ogier, do not coincide in time - the imperial crown on the statue of Charles dates back to 800, and Roland died in the Battle of Ronselvan in 778, as the epic "Song of Roland" says. At the time of his coronation, Karl had different views from Ogier.

Today, young people gather at the monument, play guitars, sing songs. By the way, it was here that the inconsolable fans of Michael Jackson gathered when they learned of his death.

The monument to Charlemagne in Paris is another reminder of what extraordinary personalities are born in the ancient land of the Franks.

Getting there

Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, Paris 75004
Metro: City