Pepin I (April 770-24 February 840), also known as Pepin of Italy, was the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire from 28 January 814 and a Holy Roman Emperor from 23 January 838 until his death on 24 February 840. Known for his conquests in the Unification Wars, Pepin of Italy fought for the Frankish forces until his father's death. Upon being appointed to the Byzantine throne, he led the Byzantine forces.
Pepin I's policies and diplomacy with the Franks is celebrated as the initiation of the bringing the Byzantines and Franks, former rivals, together as a culture.
Pepin was born in April 770 under the name of Carloman to Charlemagne and Hildegard. As a child, however, he was renamed with the royal name 'Pepin' by Charlemagne. Following the capture of Lombardy by his father in 781, Pepin became King of Italy, ruling from the age of 11 with regnants. He assisted his father in expanding the Franks, especially when Charlemagne was fighting the Avars in Eastern Europe. When Charlemagne left in 792 to put down a Saxon rebellion, Pepin continued the assault on the Avars.
Following the marriage of Charlemagne and Irene, he was placed in charge of the Frankish forces in the Unification Wars, fighting in them until 814, when Charlemagne died.
Upon Charlemagne's death in 814, the Frankish kingdom was split between the Byzantine and Frankish Empires. Louis the Pious became the sole emperor of the Franks while Pepin ruled the Byzantines. Louis had been crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 816, an unexpected move by the pope. Many people assumed Pepin of Italy would receive the honor due to his assistance to the Pope in the past. However, Louis was crowned Holy Roman Emperor allegedly due to his kingdom's proximity to Rome as opposed to the Byzantine Empire's proximity to Rome.
The Byzantines were upset by this. Pepin of Italy helped quell the protests regarding this move. Louis was forced to leave the front lines and his troops in the hands of Louis the Pious. Upon his coronation, he immediately went back to the Unification Wars, this time at the head of the Byzantine armies in the Unification Wars.
In 821, Pepin ceased his direct fighting in the Unification Wars due to his inability to fight well at his advancing age. He began controlling troop movements away from the front lines before returning to Constantinople in 823 to focus on politics and relations with the Franks. In order to bring the two people together, the brothers worked on creating more acts that would bring the two empires together. The upper classes of both nations were already on good terms with each other. These warm feelings were supposed to have bled down into the lower classes. This was the case in larger cities and wealthy cities, though remote cities and towns were still opposed to the Byzantines.
The two didn't run into distinct problems until 821, when several villages and towns in Saxony rebelled. The rebellions were quickly put down, but it inspired a wave of rebellions in the area throughout the decade. Pepin also had to put down several rebellions in the Byzantine Empire. Ultimately, the relations between the two nations had improved to a considerable point by 840. While remote areas still had dissenting views, areas along trade routes, along with populated cities and coastal cities, viewed the Byzantines more as brothers than enemies.
Pepin also assisted in repairing religious squabbles between the eastern Europe and western Europe. His actions are said to have prevented a schism in the Church and aided the Franks and Byzantines in further uniting culturally under the Carolingian Union.
Following the death of Louis the Pious, Pepin was crowned Holy Roman Emperor. This appeased the Byzantines even more, though his rule only lasted for two years.
Pepin I's health began declining dramatically in his final two years. He eventually suffered a stroke and died in February of 840. He was buried in a Venetian tomb. The location of the tomb is unknown.
Pepin I's heir to the Byzantine throne was his illegitimate son, Bernard I. Despite the adulterous nature of the man's conception, he was named Holy Roman Emperor within a few weeks of Pepin's death. Pepin is remembered for being a vicious warrior, especially in the war against the Avars and again in the Unification War. His diplomacy with Louis the Pious is said to have resulted in the cultural unification of the Franks and Byzantines.