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Charlemagne

Charlemagne (GB)

After the death of Pippin III the Short (714-768) his sons Karlmann (751-771) and Karl (742-814) shared the throne. After the early death of his brother, Charles became the sole ruler of the Frankish Empire in 771. In numerous battles, he extended his empire, the largest since the Roman Empire, over what is now France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Switzerland and laid the foundation for a Christian Occident. At Christmas in the year 800 he let himself be defeated by Pope Leo III. (750-816) crowned him Roman emperor in Rome. In addition to trade, commerce and agriculture, he promoted cultural development and the sciences, and also created a comprehensive legal order with, among other things, wine law issues. In addition, he also promoted viticulture through numerous laws and donations of vineyards, as evidenced by numerous documents, mostly to monasteries and orders in well over 50 towns.

Reiterstatuette Karl der Große im Louvre / Capitulare de villis / Karl der Große von A. Dürer

In the "Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii Caroli Magni" (Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii Caroli Magni), issued by him and recorded in 812, the management of the Crown estates is regulated, among other things, by the three-field economy, the cultivation of fruit, the breeding of livestock and viticulture. It contains strict regulations concerning hygiene in winemaking with the prohibition of stamping the grapes with the feet or storing the wine in animal skins, as well as commandments on the use of barrels with iron rings and that each vine should have three to four "coronas de racemis" (iron rings or bow vines). Furthermore, he allegedly granted the winegrowers the right to serve wine they had pressed themselves and to indicate this by a green bouquet (bush) above the entrance door. In many sources this is considered the "birth" of the Buschenschank. In the Capitulare itself or in other original sources, however, this fact is not mentioned and therefore unsecured.

The dense forests in the Rhine plain were cleared on Karl's instructions and planted with vines from Hungary, Italy, Spain, Lorraine and Champagne. Great attention was paid to the selection of high-quality grape varieties by separating the "good Franconian varieties" from the "bad Hunnish varieties". Whether the "Hunnish" already then referred to the grape variety Heunisch(Gouais Blanc) is rather doubtful, but not impossible. Also in determining the best vineyard locations the emperor allegedly had an influence. He observed during a boat trip on the Rhine to his Palatinate in Ingelheim(Rheinhessen) that on the slopes of the Rüdesheimer Berg the snow first melted and then ordered to plant a vineyard here and to plant with vines from Orléans. Possibly it was the revived grape variety. It is not certain, however, exactly which site was actually involved, as the famous Rheingau sites of Steinberg and Johannisberg were only established much later.

A similar story is told about the Corton mountain in Burgundy, which he also recognized as a good location. In 775, he donated the upper part of the slope to Saulieu Abbey, which in his honour named the white wine produced there Corton-Charlemagne. This is still the name of the village of Aloxe-Corton today. Charlemagne was a moderate drinker and detested drunkenness. He remarked: "Only those who love moderation are true friends of wine". At public banquets, he was said to have drunk no more than three times over table, that is, no more than three goblets. It is said that he especially loved the Muscatel. One of his favourite wines was the red wine from Cornas on the middle Rhône. Supposedly, however, he preferred to drink white wine in old age, as red wine coloured his white beard in an undesirable way. The ruler named the twelve months of the year in his mother tongue and gave October the name "Windume Manoth" (month of the grape harvest). It was also during this period that beer production developed on a larger scale in Europe for the first time.

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