In the year 800, Pope Leo III placed the crown of imperial Rome on a Germanic king named Karl. Thus, the man later hailed as Charlemagne claimed his empire and forever shaped the destiny of Europe. Transporting readers far beyond Europe to the glittering palaces of Constantinople and the streets of medieval Baghdad, this far-ranging book shows how the Frankish king and his wise counselors built an empire not only through warfare but also by careful diplomacy. With consummate political skill, Charlemagne partnered with a scandal-ridden pope, fended off a ruthless Byzantine empress, nurtured Jewish communities in his empire, and fostered ties with a famous Muslim caliph. For 1,200 years, the deeds of Charlemagne captured the imagination of his descendants, inspiring kings and crusaders, the conquests of Napoleon and Hitler, and the optimistic architects of the European Union.--From publisher description.