Europe around 800 (public domain map), Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
As mentioned in the St. Patrick post, the rulers of Rome were in charge of Roman state religions at this time. Rome was still in its glory days and adding territories to their empire like crazy to rule over. It was the Emperor Constantine who was in charge of this acceptance of Christianity as a state religion; however there is debate as to whether he was an actual “believer.” I don’t wish to get into a debate; it’s simply background to the Carolingian Period. Constantine was also responsible for the construction of the first church of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem and Saint Peter’s in Rome (before it was known as Vatican City). It seems like he was also responsible for a lot of dissidence in my opinion. This is another study subject of its own!
The Coronation of Charlemagne by Rafael, 1516-1517, Fresco, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
On Christmas day of 800 AD, Pope Leo III crowned Charles the Great, also known as Charlemagne, the emperor of Rome. This took place at Saint Peter’s Vatican Basilica. Charlemagne became the first Holy (Christian) Roman Emperor. As a side note, this crowning wasn’t necessarily accepted by other empires at this time. Charlemagne’s Latin name was Carolus Magnus from which “Carolingian” is derived. This period of time is historically remarkable because of the art, culture and political ideals that emerged. Now you know, when you hear Charles the Great, Charlemagne, or Carolus Magnus (aka Carolingian), they are referring to the same person/point in time.
Equestrian statue of Charlemagne, by Agostino Cornacchini (1725) — St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GFDL