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History's top 12 dads

By: Inc. on June 21, 2011, 10:22 p.m.
10. Charlemagne, A.D. 742-28

Photo: Public domain; 10th Century Tapestry

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10. Charlemagne, A.D. 742-28

The first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne is known as the "Father of Europe." He was also an actual father, and possibly a bit of a softie. One of his (possibly illegitimate) children was Pepin the Hunchback, so named because of a spinal deformity. Charlemagne treated his son well, favoring him over his younger brothers as was appropriate in royal lineages. But when he chose a younger (legitimate) son as his successor, Pepin the Hunchback became involved in a plot to kill Charlemagne, his wife and his legitimate children.

The plot was exposed, but even here, Charlemagne showed some fatherly mercy. Instead of executing his son along with the other conspirators, he banished Pepin to a monastery, where he lived out the rest of his days.

Charlemagne also doted on his daughters, keeping them close to the royal court and educating them. When they took up with courtiers and produced illegitimate grandbabies, he indulged those children, too. After Charlemagne's death, he bequeathed his surviving daughters convents where they could live out their days.