Charlemagne was a Frankish king of the Carolingian dynasty and grandson of Charles Martel. In the 8th century, he united a large portion of what would one day become France, Germany, and the Low Countries. He battled the Lombards in Italy and the Muslims in Spain, establishing himself as a defender of the papacy. In the year 800, in a coronation held in Rome, Charlemagne became the first Holy Roman Emperor. His empire was seen by the Catholic Church as the successor to the Western Roman Empire, which had collapsed in 476.
Charlemagne died in 814 after having ruled for a period of forty years, and was succeeded by his son, Louis the Pious. Charlemagne's empire was divided after the death of his son, but the groundwork for many of the modern countries of Western Europe had been laid. The Holy Roman Empire survived for a millennium until it was dissolved by Napoleon in 1806.