I Don’t Know Whether to Cheer or to Weep

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A Charlemagne Rubber Ducky.  A true sign of our times, although I am unsure of a sign of what.


Charles the Great.  He found the crown of the Roman emperors lying in the gutter of time, and by his efforts, against the odds, restored, in alliance with the popes, a Western Empire.  Charlemagne laid the foundation that allowed Catholic Europe to survive the siege by Islam and to ultimately defeat the Vikings through conversion.  In his reign Western Europe began waking from the long night described by Chesterton:

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

When the ends of the earth came marching in
To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
Like faces in a dream.

And men rode out of the eastern lands,
Broad river and burning plain;
Trees that are Titan flowers to see,
And tiger skies, striped horribly,
With tints of tropic rain.

Where Ind’s enamelled peaks arise
Around that inmost one,
Where ancient eagles on its brink,
Vast as archangels, gather and drink
The sacrament of the sun.

And men brake out of the northern lands,
Enormous lands alone,
Where a spell is laid upon life and lust
And the rain is changed to a silver dust
And the sea to a great green stone.

And a Shape that moveth murkily
In mirrors of ice and night,
Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
As death and a shock of evil words
Blast a man’s hair with white.

And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
Or the cry of the frost and foam,
Swept ever around an inmost place,
And the din of distant race on race
Cried and replied round Rome.

And there was death on the Emperor
And night upon the Pope:

More than any other single man in secular history he set the course of European history for the next 1000 years.   Even today, Western Europe might bear the stamp: “Charles made me.”

More to explorer

Father Dwyer Lays It on the Line

  [1] I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and

No Kangaroo Courts

  Well, isn’t this precious:   MELBOURNE, Victoria, Australia (ChurchMilitant.com) – The Director of Public Prosecutions for the Australian territory of Victoria


  1. I am with Cam on this.

    These days maist adults, let alone weans have not heard of Charlemagne. Particularly so in the English speaking world. I think that the old boy would have got the funny side of this and I know that he understood the importance of propaganda, of getting his image and iconography “out there” as widely as possible. And look at the prominence of that cross in a frontal view at the link immediately below! In these benighted times when displaying Christian imagery can provoke the wrath of the politically correct powers that be… this is glorious! I want one! 🙂

  2. Apropos the importance of getting the message “out there”…

    Props to Google for today’s Doodle! A really lovely gif of Fr Georges Lemaitre! A scientific genius whom the secular establishment likes to pretend did not exist! Look at that prominent Roman collar! I wonder how many millions of pc screens this will appear on today? How many billions will click on it? 🙂 A quick Google of “google doodle lemaitre” reveals that this wee doodle has resulted in articles about Fr Lemaitre appearing all over the mainstream media! 🙂

    Little acorns…

  3. Perhaps Charlemagne’s most enduring achievement was to place the Church throughout the West on a sound fiscal footing, guaranteeing the financial independence of the clergy.

    He began with an ordinance that he made as King of the Franks, in a general assembly of his Estates, spiritual and temporal, in 778-779. The ordinance was in the following terms: “Concerning tithes, it is ordained that every man give his tithe, and that they be dispensed according to the bishop’s commandment.”

    A Capitular for Saxony in 789 appointed tithes to be paid out of all public property, and that all men, “whether noble, or gentle, or of lower degree,” should “give according to God’s commandment, to the churches and priests, of their substance and labour: as God has given to each Christian, so ought he to repay a part to God.”’

    A Capitular of 800 made the payment of tithes universal within the fiscal domain of the whole Frankish kingdom. We are told the reading of this Capitular at Rome was interrupted by loud and repeated shouts from Pope Leo III and the assembled clergy of “Life and victory to our ever-august Emperor!”

    From this time onwards, therefore, we may say the civil law superseded any merely spiritual admonitions as to the payment of tithes. Their payment was no longer a religious duty alone; it was a legal obligation, enforceable by the laws of the civil head of Christendom.

    Charlemagne’s Captular was received in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and somewhat later in Scotland under King David I (1124-1153)

    The dîme was abolished by the French Revolution in 1789 and over most of Europe during the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath.

    In Scotland, after a long process of valuation, commutation and redemption, beginning under Charles I, the last teinds were finally redeemed in 2004, so I belong to the last generation of lawyers to appear before the Teind Court (in an action of augmentation, modification and locality, no less)

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