CHARLEMAGNE'S TRAVELS 
Charlemagne is undoubtedly one of the greatest emperors this world has ever known. The many journeys of this great general, ruler and patron of science are recorded in the contemporary Annales regni Francorum. This site aims to display the data contained in these Annals in a clear and modern way, in the form of an interactive map.

Scroll down to get more information about the map, such as how to use it, the used sources, the map's accuracy and many other notes. Alternatively, you can go straight to the map.

How do I use the map?

Click here to go to the map. Select a begin and end year in the bar at the top of the map. The selected years should automatically be displayed. In the "Map data" menu, you can select the map layers you want to see. These include:

  • Legend: Show the map legend.
  • Charlemagne: Display an approximated route of Charlemagne's travels.
  • Attested: Display the attested locations of Charles' route.
  • Markers: Display cities, castles, borders etc.
  • Battles: Show the location of battles involving Franks.
  • Events: Show the location of events, such as where Charlemagne celebrated Easter or Christmas.
  • Info: Show additional markers about interesting events and places from Charles' lifetime.

You can click on many elements to get more information about it. For example, if you click on a battle icon, a window with a short description of the battle pops up.

What places are included in the historical map?

Most places mentioned in the years of Charles' reign (768-813), and some more. Since this map obviously focuses on Francia, I've not included many towns too far away, such as Constantinople or Jerusalem. As the locations are mainly added for towns attested in the Annales, there may very well be some major cities missing while some minor villages do show up. The town names are as written in the Annales.

What are your sources?

Most data comes from the Frankish Annals, a description of the Frankish empire compiled in the early 9th century. Some other sources are also used, these are usually mentioned in the accompanying descriptions. The translation of the Annals I used, and occasionally quote, is: Carolingian Chronicles by Walter Scholtz and Barbara Rogers, which is a recommended read for anyone interested in more information.

How accurate is the map?

The route between the attested places was calculated using Google Directions, which uses modern data. As such, there is usually no regard for old roads, bridges, borders and other features that would have determined Charles' exact route. In a few cases, where it's explicitly mentioned that Charles travelled by river, I've traced the route by hand.

The date of some Easter events may in some cases seem to be a year off. This is because of the rather arbitrary way Christmas and Easter are written down in the Annals: often the new year starts after Easter, but sometimes Christmas is taken as the beginning of the year and Easter is in the next year.

Borders are not extremely accurate. There's just too many historical maps that all look slightly different, and that not always agree with the primary sources. They should still, though, give a good idea of the political situation of Charles' time.

Why did you make this map?

This map was originally started as a small project to finally learn javascript and css, being an experienced C#/C++ programmer. I started with a focus on the Saxon Wars. It quickly grew into much more though, and this is the result. This is basically the first javascript program I've ever written, so I'm aware that it's probably not the most efficient program ever; in fact I already have some ideas to further optimise the drawing code.

I hope that this site will help paint a better picture of the life of one of the most famous kings in history.

Contact

For any suggestions/questions/remarks, you can reach me

Credits

The images used at this page are:
Background image of the army pic by Francois Schnell
The book: 11th century copy of the Annales Fuldenses
The map: a 19th century copy of the Tabula Peutingeriana