(Charles the Great) King of the Franks (c742 — 814AD)
Emperor Charlemagne was born in the palace at Herstal (near Liège), like his grandfather Charles Martel. He became King of the Franks in 771 and developed his kingdom into an empire covering most of Western Europe. After his conquest of modern-day Italy, he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope. His imperial palace and seat of government was at Aachen, in modern-day Germany. His reign saw a renaissance of art, religion and culture, and he is often cited as the “father of Europe”. He is commemorated in the Charlemagne Prize, awarded annually by the City of Aachen to an individual who has advanced the cause of European unity.