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How was Charlemagne able to maintain such a vast empire? Were Charlemagne successors inept rulers, or was the empire simply too big and unwieldy to manage?
Charlemagne’s kingdom was very large, it consisted of France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and parts of Germany, Italy, and Spain. No one man could possibly rule all this land and be able to keep an eye throughout the whole kingdom. To fix this problem Charlemagne governed all the land through counts. About 250 counts ruled the districts in Charlemagne’s kingdom.
Although this was a good strategy in managing a kingdom this large, the counts would manage to become more independent and less loyal. This began the downfall of the kingdom, eventually the kingdom became fragmented by his regional magnates. When Charlemagne died in 814, his son Louis the Pious became emperor. He was determined to unite the kingdom, but then made his own problems. Louis had four sons, three of them rose against him and the kingdom was divided once more between them.
In my opinion I think that the successors of Charlemagne were inept and the empire was too big to manage. His son was not able to unite the kingdom, because of a problem he caused. Even if Louis was successful in uniting the kingdom I do not believe it would last long. The kingdom was just too big to manage by one person; it would take multiple rulers to rule. Which would eventually cause conflict and a power struggle that history has proven to us over and over again.