Ary Scheffer via Wikimedia Commons
A.D. 742: Charlemagne, the founder of the first empire in western Europe after the fall of Rome, is born near Liège, Frankish Kingdom, in what today is Belgium. Charlemagne (seen here to the right, mounted on a horse and wearing a crown) became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany, in A.D. 771 and worked to unite all Germanic people into one kingdom and to convert his subjects to Christianity. After Pope Leo III crowned him emperor of the Romans in A.D. 800, he encouraged the Carolingian Renaissance, a cultural and intellectual revival in Europe. During his 13-year reign as emperor, Charlemagne expanded his kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of western and central Europe, earning the nickname "Father of Europe."