The history of western music properly begins not with the Greeks or Romans but with the Franks. These rough, vigorous tribes of redheaded warriors (as they are described) came down across the Rhine into what is now northern France and the Benelux region during the 200s and 300s. The Franks moved into a cultural space called GalloRoman, civilized for centuries under the Roman Empire, but now decaying within as fast as it was being infiltrated from without. At first it seemed as though the Frankish ascendancy was just another of the turbulent shifts in power as one tribe after another stormed across the remains of the Roman Empire. But the Franks stayed. They solidified their own position to the point where they themselves could afford to become civilized. Absorbing whatever elements of culture they encountered, they initiated a new phase of cultural synthesis. What made the Franks different from the other barbarians was not their great military aptitude but rather their even greater organizational ability. Rough and uncultured they had been, but they set up a culture that has lasted more than a thousand years. The education of the Franks began under the Carolingians, the leading Frankish dynasty. Under Pippin III, crowned king in 751, and his son Charles the Great, or Charlemagne (ca 742–814), the Carolingians not only extended their kingship into an empire, but set in motion the process of acculturation through which Frankish energies and talents eventually found their own modes of expression. In their search for cultural values, the Carolingians turned to Rome and the Christian Church. Pagan Rome was a symbol of past greatness, of accumulated learning; as a symbol it was valued highly by the politically astute Carolingians. The Church, on the other hand, was one of the most important social realities on the European scene: it stood for order, and it stood for it in a way that obviously appealed to growing numbers of Westerners. The Carolingian political program, especially in education, came to depend largely on the institutions of the Church. Surveying the European scene, the Carolingians saw local autonomy and variety. They found in the Roman Church, specifically in the Roman liturgy, the means best suited to producing cultural unity. And the liturgy was largely sung. Pippin III and even more Charlemagne made universal adoption of the Roman liturgy—including its chant —one of their main objectives; their efforts toward this objective were sustained from 750 to Charlemagne’s death in 814. They sent to Rome for chant books and for cantors to come to teach the Frankish singers; they sent their own cantors to Rome to learn Roman chant; they not only caused these things to be done, but followed up their execution with a keen personal interest. Although the results of this interest are hard to assess at a distance of over a thousand years, it is clear that by 850 there was in use in the Frankish realm a repertory of Roman chant that had not been there a century earlier. Although the relationship of the imported Roman chant to past and future Frankish music was extremely complex, still the Roman chant set a standard of excellence and a point of departure for the Franks.