Born on 2 April 742, Charlemagne, known as Charles the Great, was the son of Pepin the Short and Bertrand de Laon. After his father’s death he was elected King of the Franks in 768. Initially the kingdom was shared with his brother Carloman, who died in mysterious circumstances in 771. Charles was subsequently elected King of the Lombards from 774 and on Christmas night in 800, in St Peter’s Basilica, he was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III. Charles died on 28 January 814, leaving the crown to his son Louis the Pious. His reign was characterised by the rebirth of art and culture, known as the Carolingian renaissance, of which the sovereign himself was the promoter. The sovereign adopted the customs and traditions of the ancient emperors, especially Augustus and the Christian Constantine, and tried to implement reforms to centralise power and bring about cultural and religious renewal. Charles’ Holy Roman Empire was therefore characterised by numerous religious reforms and new impulses in the architectural, poetic and philosophical spheres. A strong impulse for the Carolingian renaissance was given by the presence of scriptoria and monastic libraries, where, among other things, classical texts were studied and became a cultural vehicle.