Eginhard or Einhard

Eginhard or Einhard (sometimes also called Agenhard or Ainhard), the biographer of Charlemagne, was born about 770. The place of his birth is entirely unknown. At an early age he repaired to the court of Charlemagne, and became a pupil of Alcuin. Eginhard gained the favor of the emperor to a high degree, and an intimate friendship sprang up between him and the emperor's children, especially the emperor's oldest son and successor, Louis le Debonnaire. The emperor appointed him his private secretary, and superintendent of public buildings at Aix-la-Chapelle. Eginhard accompanied the emperor in all his marches and journeys, never separating from him excepting on one occasion (806), when he was dispatched by Charlemagne on a mission to pope Leo, in order to obtain the signature of the pope for the document which divided the empire among the sons of Charlemagne. The emperor departed in his case, as in that of Alcuin, Angilbert, and some other friends, from his habit not to cumulate ecclesiastical benefices in one hand, and gave to him the abbeys of St. Bavo and Blardenberg in Ghent, St. Lerontius in Maestricht, Fritzlar in Germany, St. Wandregisil in France, and others. On the death of Charlemagne, he was appointed preceptor of Lothaire, son of Louis le Debonnaire. The latter presented him with a large tract of land in the Odenwald, the center of which was Michelstadt. Here Eginhard spent the last years of his life in retirement. He was in 826 ordained presbyter, and in 827 assumed as abbot the direction of a monastery at Seligenstadt, which he had erected upon his estates. As his wife Emma was still alive at this time, he appears to have agreed with her to consider her only as a sister. The report that his wife was a daughter of Charlemagne is probably untrue. The year of his death is unknown. He was still alive in 848. He probably had no children, and the claim of the counts of Erbach, who trace their descent from him, and in whose castle the coffins of Eginhard and his wife are still shown, is probably unfounded. The reputation of Eginhard rests chiefly upon his life of Charlemagne (Vita et Conversatio Gloriosissimi Imperatoris Karoli Regis Magni, completed about 820), which is generally regarded as the most important historical work of a biographical nature that has come down to us from the Middle Ages. It frequently served as a model for other biographies, and was extensively used as a school-book. The best edition is that of Pertz (1829), in volume 2 of the Monumenta Germaniae historica; another edition, with valuable notes and documents, was published by Ideler, Leben u. Wandel Karl's des Grossen (Gotha, 1839, 2 volumes)

Another work, the Annales Regum Francorum, Pippini, Caroli Magni, Hludowici Imperatoris, embraces the period from 741 to 829 (published in Pertz, Monumenta, volume 1). The first part (741-788) is based on the Annals of Lorsch; the second part is original. He also wrote an account of the transfer of the relics of St. Marcellin and St. Peter from Rome to his monastery in Seligenstadt (Historia translationis St. Marcellini et Petri, in Acta Sanctorum, June 2). His Epistolae, 62 in number, are also of considerable value in a historical point of view. They are published in Weinkens, Eginhardus vindicatus (Francf. 1714). Another work, Libellus de adoranda cruce, is lost. The French consider the edition of Eginhard's works by M. Teulot, with a translation and life of Eginhard (Paris, 1840- 43, 2 vols.), to be the best and most complete. — Cave, Hist. Lit., anno 814; Mosheim, Ch. Hist. cent. 8, chapter 2, note 43; Herzog, Real-Encykl. 3:725; Dahl, Ueber Eginhard und Emma (Darmstadt, 1817). (A.J.S.)

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