Charlemagne also known as Charles the Great or Charles I, was King of the Franks. He united most of Western Europe during the early Middle Ages and laid the foundations for modern France and Germany.
He took the Frankish throne in 768 and became King of Italy from 774. From 800 he became the first Holy Roman Emperor — the first recognized emperor in Western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. While Charlemagne already ruled his kingdom without the help of the Pope, recognition from the pontiff granted him divine legitimacy in the eyes of his contemporaries. The expanded Frankish state Charlemagne founded was called the Carolingian Empire.