Christianity gets a bad rap nowadays. But even fewer people appreciate the era of Christian history in Europe known as “Christendom“. The word just means “Christ’s kingdom”, and the idea was that northern Europe in the Middle Ages was a realm where the Church and the State exercised authority over all of life in a more-or-less symbiotic relationship. Europe’s Middle Ages are derogatively called the “Dark Ages” by historians and others who deny that anything good came from Christendom. But Mark Noll, in his book Turning Points, argues that Europe’s Middle Ages was a unique period with good and not-so-good results. This period of history that lasted almost a thousand years was symbolically ushered in by the crowning of Charles the Great–better known as Charlemagne, first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.
The slideshow below explains the significance of Charlemagne and the Christendom he helped inaugurate–a kingdom that, although fallen, continues to exert influence over the Church and State today. Charlemagne’s coronation is one of the great “turning points” in Christian history.