(Less correctly EGINHARD), historian, born c. 770 in the district
watered by the River Main in the eastern part of the Frankish
Empire; d. 14 March, 840, at Seligenstadt. His earliest training
he received at the monastery of Fulda, where he showed such
unusual mental powers that Abbot Baugulf sent him to the court of
Charlemagne. His education was completed at the Palace School,
where he was fortunate enough to count among his masters the great
Alcuin, who bears witness to his remarkable talent in mathematics
and architecture, and also to the fact that, in spite of his
unattractive person, he was among the emperor's most trusted
advisers. Charlemagne gave Einhard charge of his great public
buildings, e. g. the construction of Aachen cathedral and the
palaces of Aachen and Ingelheim, for which reason he was known in
court circles as Beseleel, after the builder of the tabernacle
(Ex., xxi). Charlemagne also availed himself of Einhard's tact and
prudence to send him on various diplomatic missions. Thus, in 802
he placed in his hands the negotiations for the exchange of
distinguished Saxon hostages, and in 806 he was dispatched to Rome
to obtain papal approbation for the partition of the empire the
emperor had just decided upon.
During the reign of Louis the Pious he retained his position of
trust, and proved a faithful counsellor to Louis's son Lothair.
Unsuccessful, however, in his attempts to settle the contests for
the crown which had been stirred up by Empress Judith, and unable
to bring about a lasting reconciliation between Louis and his
sons, Einhard, in 830, withdrew to Mühlheim (Mulinheim) on the
Main, which he had been granted as early as 815, together with
other estates, as a mark of imperial favour. He transferred
thither the relics of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, and called the
place Seligenstadt. Moreover, between 831 and 834 he established
here a Benedictine abbey, where, after the death of his wife, Emma
(or Imma), sister of Bishop Bernhar of Worms (not daughter of
Charlemagne), he spent the rest of his life as abbot. It is not
certain whether he was ordained priest. His epitaph was written by
The most important of Einhard's works is the "Vita Caroli Magni."
This, the best biography of the whole period of the Middle Ages,
written in close imitation of Suetonius, particularly his "Vita
Augusti", shows the emperor from the standpoint of the most
intimate personal acquaintance with all sides of his character,
and with a genuine attempt at truth of portrayal. The diction is
in general elegant, though not polished. The annals of the
Carlovingian Empire, which have been handed down as Einhard's (ed.
Kurze, 1895), are, in their present form, older materials worked
over. Those for the years between 796 and 820 may date back to
Einhard. In addition, we have from is hand the "Translatio et
Miracula SS. Marcellini et Petri", containing data which are
important for the history of culture. The seventy-one letters,
written by Einhard between 825 and 830 in a clear, simple style,
constitute an important source for the history of Louis the Pious.
Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler
From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the
Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by
New Advent, Inc.
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