Is Charles a Carolingian?

The coronation of Charles III

We have just left the Elizabethan era and are about to have King Charles III coronated into what some people are calling the Carolingian era. Its not really right and people are confusing what it means.

My views of the monarchy have changed over the years. I do now wonder how someone born into a privileged aristocratic family could be considered suitable to oversee government based on their descent from other aristocrats. With no particular qualifications; and no governance or management skills you get the job because of divine anointment.

Is there a divine right to rule?

Sometimes it just sounds ridiculous. I can’t escape the marvellous comeback in the film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. King Arthur explains that he was the king because The Lady of the Lake had held aloft Excalibur from the water to signify his divine providence. Dennis the peasant responds:

Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Or indeed because one’s mummy or daddy gave you the job.

Feudal performance measures for kings

I do have a solution that would help give legitimacy to the monarch. It has always been there but the incumbents have tried to legislate it away (or brush it under the carpet). The feudal performance requirement for the king was that he had to be able to get enough support from the rest of the aristocracy (the Barons) to win battles against other people who thought they should be king. It worked for the Anglo-Saxons, the Plantagenets and the Tudors. Richard III was the last king to lead an army on the battlefield and it didn’t end well at Bosworth (1485) with his death and the end of the Plantagenet line replaced by the Tudors. At least there were clear KPIs back then.

For instance, Prince Harry, who claims to have killed a few people in the military, could face off against King Charles in a feudal version of UFC. Harry is much better qualified (based on our agreed KPI) than Charles whose interest in architecture has him knocking up his Disney-inspired village in Dorset on his estate.  Even Megan for all her faults would do a better job as Boadicea than Charles as “The Hammer” (which is the point I am getting to).

Who were Charles the Hammer and the Carolingians?

Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer, c686 to 741 AD), was a Frankish military leader under the Merovingian kings. He is famous for his victory over the Umayyad Caliphate at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD. It was a turning point in European history as it ended the Muslim conquests of western Europe. Charles Martel laid the foundation for the Carolingian Empire under his grandson, Charlemagne.

The English King Charles III is not a member of the Carolingian line. “Carolingian” is derived from the Medieval Latin Carolus for Charles and historically refers to the kings descended from Charles Martel. Charles III is part of the House of Windsor and is not a Carolingian. The only way he is ever going to get the soubriquet “The Hammer” is for a bit of DIY around Buckingham Palace.