Ever since I started working on you-know-what, Charlemagne has been a frustrating roommate. He can barely sign the rent check, he pretends not to hear you if you don’t flatter him (“O Father of Europe, is the shower free?”), and he can’t be bothered to scrape the meat scraps off the George Foreman. However, to my great delight, he does find himself in the news nearly every week.
If you had hoped to glimpse the holy relics supposedly acquired by Charlemagne, you’re too late: after being displayed for veneration at Aachen during a ten-day period of pilgrimage, they’re going back into the vault, like Disney DVDs, for another seven years. This Deutsche Welle report focuses on the ambivalence, even unease, that relics now inspire. Just try phoning the Vatican for their comment on the subject and you’ll see what I mean.
If you’re interested in Carolingian manuscripts but can’t get to Paris in the next two weeks, take heart: the Bibliothèque Nationale has put its current exhibition on the Web. Thoughtfully, for three of the exhibits, the online version of “Trésors carolingien: Livres manuscrits de Charlemagne à Charles le Chauve” offers one feature that merely gawking at the books under glass does not: it lets you turn the pages.
Best of all, we can expect Charlemagne to stride across the silver screen next year in Love and Virtue, an adaptation of the 16th-century poem Orlando Furioso. I’d prefer a more straightforward take on Karl and friends—but you know, I think I need to see any movie that casts Peter O’Toole as a sorcerer named Atlantes…