Family of Frankish aristocrats that ruled nearly all or part of western Europe in 751–987. Pippin I (d. 640), the dynasty's founder, came to power in the office of mayor of the palace under the Merovingian king Chlotar II, with authority over Austrasia. From this post, his descendants, including Charles Martel, continued to usurp authority from the Merovingians, who remained on the throne as figureheads until 751, when Charles's son Pippin III, with papal support, deposed Childeric III and formally took the title of King of the Franks. Under Pippin's son Charlemagne (Carolus Magnusthe source of the dynasty's name), the Carolingian realm was extended into Germany and Italy, where he conquered the Lombards and continued the alliance with Rome. Charlemagne also promoted religious reform and cultural growth and was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III on Dec. 25, 800. On his death, Charlemagne was succeeded by his son Louis the Pious, whose three sons divided the realm in 843. Despite internal strife and foreign invasion, the dynasty survived until 911 in the eastern part of the realm, where German rulers would revive Carolingian political ideals later in the century, and in the western realm until 987.
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