“A healthy dose of skepticism should underlie any empirical endeavor, but there can be no doubt from Nelson’s deft exploration of the extant record that Charlemagne proved himself ‘great’ in every sense.”
A little historical perspective, on one of the primary founders of pre-modern Europe. A great man indeed – not perfect, not wholly admirable, but those qualities are not essential for greatness – as even the author of the book being reviewed was forced to admit, despite her Left-leaning biases:
“Sometimes Nelson’s feminist bias comes through gratuitously.
“Is it really worth commenting that Charlemagne’s marital relations were chronicled only by male observers? Would a woman’s marital relations chronicled only by women be equally problematic?
“Similarly, was disapprobation of the Byzantine Empress Eirene’s murder of her own son the result of ‘patriarchy and good old-fashioned misogyny’? Would filicide be more acceptable in some kind of gender-neutral utopia?
“These foibles notwithstanding, it is noteworthy that Nelson voluntarily chose to cap an already distinguished career with a biography of the kind of man Charlemagne truly was: a great one.”
But speaking of Left-leaning biases, the virtue-signalling (I was tempted to a more pithy term) is great in some of the comments. Good Lord have mercy, these people are commenting on an article in The American CONSERVATIVE…??? The alleged “conservatism” of some of these folks is in noticeably short supply. Indeed, some of them are either trolls or idiots, maybe both!
Still, the article (book review) itself is worth a read – and so, I have no doubt, is the book, but my “to-read” list is too long as it is – even if some of the commenters are nattering nabobs of nutcase-ism. And Charlemagne is, as every generation up to the ’60s has known him, without doubt, to be: a great man.