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Einhard in the Grandes Chroniques de France , Paris, BnF, lat. 2813, fol. 85v A, 14th century (1375-1380)

Einhard (according to his own spelling Einhart , also Einhardt ; in the Romance languages Eginhard , Eginardo etc. with non- palatalized g; * around 770 in Maingau ; † March 14, 840 Obermulinheim monastery, today Seligenstadt ) was a Franconian lay abbot , scholar, art expert and Author, one of the most outstanding figures of the Carolingian Renaissance . His most important and best-known work is the Vita Karoli Magni , the biography of Charlemagne . Einhard succeeded his teacher Alcuin as head of the court school of Charlemagne , advisor to Louis the Pious and lay abbot of the monasteries of St. Peter and St. Bavo in Ghent , St. Servatius in Maastricht , St. Cloud near Paris , St. Wandrille in Normandy , St. John the Baptist in Pavia, St. Peter in Fritzlar and Steinbach near Michelstadt in the Odenwald and Seligenstadt . Because of his technical talent he was given the name Beseleel in the court school , after the builder of the Jewish tabernacle ( Ex 35,30).

Live and act

Charlemagne and Charles V in the Editio princeps of the Vita Karoli Magni . Johannes Soter, Cologne 1521
Drawing (17th century) of the Einhard Arch, Bibliothèque nationale , Paris

Einhard, who came from a noble East Franconian family, was first brought up in the Fulda monastery . He is documented there between 788 and 791. In 794 he was sent to the court school by Abbot Baugulf von Fulda to further perfect his education, where he became a pupil of Alcuin and soon belonged to the closest circle around Charlemagne.

Einhard was in charge of the construction of numerous buildings by Charlemagne, such as the bridge to Mainz , the Palatinate in Ingelheim and Aachen and the Palatine Chapel in Aachen . He also supervised the court workshops. It is unclear to what extent he himself was artistically or handcrafted, but he seems to have done at least conceptual work. The so-called Einhardsbogen, a triumphal arch-shaped reliquary that he commissioned as a lay abbot for his abbey in Maastricht after 815, has not survived . It served as a base for a cross and shows stylistic contact with the bronze grids of the Marienkirche in Aachen.

His pupil Brun Candidus von Fulda was active both as a biographer and as a monumental and illuminator . Einhard was the companion of Charlemagne on all his travels, went to Rome as his envoy in 806 , and in 813 his councilor is said to have moved Karl to appoint his son Ludwig emperor. He also trusted Einhard and gave him to his son Lothar I as an advisor in 817 . In the sons' struggles against their father, Einhard, as a representative of the idea of ​​unity of the empire, tried to find a peaceful solution to the conflicts. He founded an abbey near Michelstadt in the Odenwald , the Einhardsbasilika in Steinbach , for which he sought relics of Saints Marcellinus and Petrus Martyr in Rome . He later moved it to Muhlinheim, which over time was given the name Seligenstadt due to the relics of the abbey . He never seems to have been a clergyman , but led the abovementioned monasteries and monasteries as a lay abbot according to the custom of the time.

His wife Imma died in 836, contrary to the ineradicable legends that, against any historical probability, based on the latest tradition, make her a daughter of Charlemagne, presumably from the Geroldinger count family based in the Middle Rhine region , to which Imma, Hildegard's mother , also died. the wife of Charlemagne, belonged. A widespread relationship between Einhard's wife and Hildegard, and thus also with Ludwig the Pious, therefore appears to be not unlikely, which would adequately explain the fact that they were named in the deed of donation for Michelstadt from 815. Julia HM Smith considers her to be the widow of Count Drogo, the former owner of Mulinheim, later Seligenstadt.

Of the four works of Einhard that are still known today, the biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni , is the most important. Einhard wrote this only biography of Emperor Charles by a contemporary based on the ancient Emperor's biographies Sueton , but without slavishly following their model.

Another important work is the Translatio et Miracula SS. Marcellini et Petri , a report on the transfer of the relics of two saints from Rome to Seligenstadt with the miracle narratives usual for the translation reports. Finally, there is the short theological text De adoranda cruce and a selection from the Psalms that has been prepared for prayer purposes. In addition, a larger collection of Einhard's letters (71 in total, 58 with Einhard as the author) has been preserved. It was discussed whether Einhard could be the author of the anonymous Aachen Karlsepos .

According to recent findings, Einhard was not involved in the preparation of the so-called Annales Fuldenses (Fuldaer Annalen) and the Annales regni Francorum (Annals of the Franconian Empire, Reichsannalen), which were previously ascribed to him ("Annales qui dicuntur Einhardi", "Annales Einhardi") .

Einhard died in Seligenstadt on March 14, 840. His epitaph , in which only his artistic works and the translation of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, but not his literary work are mentioned as merits, was written by the Fulda abbot Hrabanus Maurus ., Who , however, gave a hidden reference to the Vita Karoli for connoisseurs by he with verse 7 (" quem Carolus princeps propria nutrivit in aula ") on Vita Karoli prol. 4 (“ nutrimentum videlicet in me impensum et perpetua, postquam in aula eius conversari coepi, cum ipso ac liberis eius amicitia ”).


Einhard basilica in Seligenstadt
The Einhardsbasilika in Steinbach near Michelstadt
Einhard monument in Eschweiler

In Seligenstadt there is the Einhard basilica of the former monastery there, in which Einhard stayed as a lay abbot since 830 and where he also died. There is a large sarcophagus with the bones of Einhard and his wife Imma in the sacristy of the altar boys; however, the room is not accessible to normal church visitors. Modern scientific investigations when a grave was opened in 2005 confirmed that the remains of bones in the coffin match the life dates of Einhard and his wife, so it actually seems to be the original bones, which has since been questioned.

With the Einhard basilica in Steinbach near Michelstadt in the Odenwald - Ludwig the Pious had given this place to Einhard in 815 - a Carolingian church building has been preserved almost in the same condition as the founder's time. The earlier assumption that Einhard was the progenitor of the Counts of Erbach (until 1806 regent of the Odenwald ) is incorrect.

In memory of Einhard and his work, the Einhard Foundation zu Seligenstadt has awarded the Einhard Prize for Biographical Literature every two years since 1999 . Previous winners are Otto Plant (1999), Brian Boyd (2001), Joachim Fest (2003), Irene Heidelberger-Leonard (2005), Eberhard Weis (2007), Margot Friedlander (2009), Hugh Barr Nisbet (2011) and John CG Röhl (2013).

In some cities in Einhard's area of ​​activity, there are monuments in his honor, such as Seligenstadt and Eschweiler . In Aachen and Seligenstadt , for example, grammar schools are named after Einhard and in Michelstadt-Steinbach the Einhard elementary school.

A memorial plaque for him was placed in the Walhalla near Regensburg .

The legend of "Einhard and Imma", which Einhard puts into a family relationship with Charlemagne after he freed his "daughter" Imma in an adventurous context, is also linked to Einhard's person. For a long time it was believed to be true, but Otto Abel traced it back to its historical core.


Editions of works and translations

  • Oswald Holder-Egger (Ed.): Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum separately in editi 25: Einhardi Vita Karoli Magni. Hanover 1911 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )
  • Vita Karoli Magni. The life of Charlemagne. translated by Evelyn Scherabon Firchow. Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-15-001996-6 . (lat./dt.)
  • Translatio et Miracula SS. Marcellini et Petri. In: Georg Waitz , Wilhelm Wattenbach u. a. (Ed.): Scriptores (in Folio) 15.1: Supplementa tomorum I-XII, pars III. Supplementum tomi XIII pars I. Hannover 1887, pp. 238–264 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )
  • Epistolae (in quart) 5: Epistolae Karolini aevi (III). Edited by Ernst Dümmler , Karl Hampe u. a. Berlin 1898, pp. 105–145 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )
  • Steffen Patzold et al. (Hrsg.): Translation and miracles of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter. (= Acta Einhardi. Volume 2). Seligenstadt 2015, ISBN 978-3-00-049804-6 . (Latin / German)
  • Annette Grabowsky, Christoph Haack, Thomas Kohl and Steffen Patzold (eds.): Einhard's letters, communication and mobility in the early Middle Ages. (= Acta Einhardi. Volume 3). Seligenstadt 2018, ISBN 978-3-00-059807-4 .
  • Michael I. Allen: The letter as mirror and prism: Lupus of Ferrières and Einhard. [With a new critical edition of Einhard's De adoranda cruce] in La Lettre-Miroir dans l'Occident latin et vernaculaire du Ve au XVe siècle , ed. C. Veyrard Cosme, D. Demartini, and S. Shimahara (Paris: Études Augustiniennes , 2018), pp. 175–200, here pp. 189–200.


Monographs and Articles

  • Michael I. Allen: The letter as mirror and prism: Lupus of Ferrières and Einhard. [With a new critical edition of Einhard's De adoranda cruce] , in: La Lettre-Miroir dans l'Occident latin et vernaculaire du Ve au XVe siècle , ed. C. Veyrard Cosme, D. Demartini, and S. Shimahara (Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 2018), pp. 175–200.
  • Gereon Becht-Jördens: Einhart's "Vita Karoli" and the ancient tradition of biography and historiography. From genre history to interpretation. In: Middle Latin Yearbook. 46, 2011, pp. 335-369.
  • Walter Berschin : biography and epoch style in the Latin Middle Ages. Volume 3 Carolingian Biography 750–920 AD (= sources and studies on the Latin philology of the Middle Ages. Volume 10). Anton Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1991, pp. 199-220.
  • Helmut Beumann : Studies in the history of ideas on Einhard and other historians of the early Middle Ages . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1962.
  • Max Buchner: Einhard's artist and scholarly life. A cultural image from the time of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious (= Library of Culture and History. Volume 22). Kurt Schroeder, Bonn / Leipzig 1922.
  • Claude Carozzi: Eginhard et les trois fonctions de la royauté. In: Claude Carozzi, Huguette Taviani-Carozzi (eds.): Le Pouvoir au Moyen Âge. Idéologies, Pratiques, Représentations . Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence 2005, pp. 237-255.
  • David Ganz: Einhard's Charlemagne: the Characterization of Greatness. In: J. Story (Ed.): Charlemagne. Empire and Society . Manchster university Press, Manchester / New York 2005, pp. 38–51.
  • Wolfgang Hartmann: Machesbach monastery and early medieval nobility in Bachgau. In: Aschaffenburg yearbook. Volume 16, 1993, pp. 137-237.
  • Wolfgang Hartmann: The "Einhardweg" from Michelstadt to Seligenstadt. In: Odenwälder yearbook for culture and history. 1997, pp. 93-102.
  • Karl Hauck (Ed.): The Einhard Cross. Lectures and studies of the Münster discussion on arcus Einhardi (= treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen. Philological-historical class, third part. 87). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Darmstadt 1974.
  • Siegmund Hellmann : Einhard's literary position. In: Siegmund Hellmann: Selected treatises on the historiography and intellectual history of the Middle Ages. ed. by Helmut Beumann. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1961, pp. 159–229.
  • Thomas Ludwig: Einhard's curriculum vitae and the political events in the first decade of the rule of Ludwig the Pious. In: Thomas Ludwig, Otto Müller, Irmgard Widdra-Spiess: The Einhards Basilica in Steinbach near Michelstadt in the Odenwald . Edited by the State Office for Monument Preservation Hessen. Zabern, Mainz 1996, ISBN 3-8053-1322-5 , pp. 17-23.
  • Steffen Patzold : Me and Charlemagne. The life of the courtier Einhard . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-608-94764-9 .
  • Steffen Patzold: Einhard's first readers: On the context and the intention to represent the "Vita Karoli". In: Viator. 42/3, 2011, pp. 33-55. (on-line)
  • Hermann Schefers (Ed.): Einhard. Studies on life and work [vol. 1] [International Einhard Symposium from 18.-22. October 1995 in Michelstadt-Steinbach]. Hessian Historical Commission Darmstadt HKD, Darmstadt 1997, ISBN 3-88443-033-5 ( review ).
  • Hermann Schefers (Ed.): Einhard - Leben und Werk, Vol. 2 [International Einhard Symposium from 24.-27. 2008 in Seligenstadt] (Work of the Hessian Historical Commission. New series Volume 39). Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2019. ISBN 978-3-7954-3354-3
  • Klaus Scherberich: On the suetone imitation in Einhard's vita Karoli Magni. In: Lotte Kéry (ed.): Eloquentia copiosus. Festschrift for Max Kerner on his 65th birthday . Thouet, Aachen 2006, pp. 17-28.
  • Matthias M. Tischler: Einhart's Vita Karoli: Studies on the origin, tradition and reception. (= Writings of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. 48). Hanover 2001, ISBN 3-7752-5448-X .

Lexicon article and Acta Einhardi

  • Manfred Schopp: The martyrs Marcellinus and Peter: The story of their veneration in the light of the acta sanctorum. ( Acta Einhardi 1). Einhard Society, Seligenstadt 2006, ISBN 3-89870-328-2 .
  • Steffen Patzold and others: Einhard. Translation and miracles of Saints Marcellinus and Peter. ( Acta Einhardi 2). Einhard Society, Seligenstadt 2015, ISBN 978-3-00-049804-6 .
  • Annette Grabowsky, Christoph Haack, Thomas Kohl, Steffen Patzold: Einhard's letters - communication and mobility in the early Middle Ages . ( Acta Einhardi 3). Einhard Society, Seligenstadt 2018, ISBN 978-3-00-059807-4 . (Latin / German)

Web links

Commons : Einhard  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Change of the place name according to "Seligenstadt, Landkreis Offenbach". Historical local dictionary for Hessen. In: Landesgeschichtliches Informationssystem Hessen (LAGIS).
  2. See article Basilica di San Giovanni Battista (Pavia) of the Italian Wikipedia.
  3. Victor H. Elbern : Einhard and the Carolingian goldsmith's art. In: Hermann Schefers (Ed.): Einhard. Studies of life and work . Darmstadt 1997, pp. 155-178, here pp. 158-162, pp. 174-176; Karl Hauck (Ed.): The Einhard Cross. Lectures and studies of the Münster discussion on arcus Einhardi (Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen. Philological-Historical Class, third volume 87). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Darmstadt 1974.
  4. Friedrich Kurz (Ed.): Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum separatim editi 6: Annales regni Francorum inde from a. 741 usque ad a. 829, qui dicuntur Annales Laurissenses maiores et Einhardi. Hannover 1895, p. 121 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )
  5. See Wilhelm Störmer: Einhard's origin. Thoughts and observations on Einhard's inheritance and family environment. In: Hermann Schefers (Ed.): Einhard. Studies of life and work. Darmstadt 1997, pp. 15-39, here p. 38.
  6. See Julia HM Smith: Einhard. The Sinner and the Saints. In: Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. 6th Series, 13, 2003, pp. 55-77.
  7. On the meaning of the imitation suetone, cf. Becht-Jördens, Einhart's "Vita Karoli" (see literature below).
  8. Cf. Tino Licht: Einhart's libellus de psalmis. In: Revue Bénédictine. 122, 2012, pp. 217-231.
  9. Dieter Schaller : The Aachen epic for Karl the Kaiser. In: Early Medieval Studies. 10, 1976, pp. 134–168 (with addenda also in: Dieter Schaller: Studies on Latin Poetry of the Early Middle Ages . Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1995, pp. 129–168, pp. 419–422, here pp. 162–168)
  10. ^ Georg Heinrich Pertz : Einhardi Annales. 1845 archive.org
  11. Hrabani Mauri carmina: Epitaphium Einhardi. In: Poetae Latini medii aevi 2: Poetae Latini aevi Carolini (II). Published by Ernst Dümmler . Berlin 1884, p. 237 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )
  12. The legend of Einhard and Imma. ( Memento of the original from September 22, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. tells of a 12th century Lorsch monk, quoted by Einhard after Kaiser Karl's life. translated by Otto Abel. Wilhelm Bessers Verlagbuchhandlung, Berlin 1850, p. 56 ff. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.ejus.cc