Charlemagne was King of the Franks, in an empire centered more or less around modern France but extending further, from 768 CE to his death in 814 CE (co-ruling with his brother Carloman I until 777 CE).
He was a close ally of the Pope, and was crowned "Emperor of the Romans" by the Pope in 800 CE in what came to be called the Carolingian Empire.
This was right in the middle of the "Middle Ages" of Europe and towards the end of what are sometimes known as the "Dark Ages" of Europe. His rule preceded the Great Schism of 1054 in which the Roman Catholic Church split from the Eastern Orthodox churches.
- The husband did not become the legal guardian of the woman, in contrast to the Muntehe, or dowered marriage (some historians dispute the existence of this distinction).
- The marriage was based on a consensual agreement between husband and wife, that is, both had the desire to marry.
- The woman had the same right as the man to ask for divorce.
- Friedelehe was usually contracted between couples from different social status.
- Friedelehe was not synonymous with polygyny, but enabled it.
- The children of a Friedelehe were not under the control of the father, but only that of the mother.
- Children of a Friedelehe initially enjoyed full inheritance rights; under the growing influence of the church their position was continuously weakened.
- A Friedelehe came into being solely by public conveyance of the bride to the groom's domicile and the wedding night consummation; the bride also received a Morgengabe (literally "morning gift", a gift of money given to a wife upon consummation of a marriage).
- A Friedelehe was able to be converted into a Muntehe (dowered or guardianship marriage), if the husband later conveyed bridewealth (property conveyed to the wife's family). A Muntehe can also be characterized as a secular legal sale of a woman by her family clan's patriarch to her husband (sometimes with the requirement that the consummation of the marriage be witnessed).
- He conquered the Lombard Kingdom of Northern Italy from 772-776. He briefly took Southern Italy in 787, but it soon declared independence and he didn't try to recapture it.
- He spent most of his rule fighting pitched campaigns to rule mostly Basque Aquitaine and neighboring regions, and the northern Iberian portion of Moorish Spain.
- In the Saxon Wars, spanning thirty years ending in 804 and eighteen battles, he conquered West German Saxonia and proceeded to convert these pagan peoples to Christianity, and took Bavaria starting in 794 and solidified in 794.
- He went beyond them to fight the Avars and Slav further to the east, taking Slavic Bohemia, Moravia, Austria and Croatia.