From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany. Depending on one's perspective, this Empire can be seen as the later history of the Frankish Realm or the early history of France and of the Holy Roman Empire.
The term emphasizes Pope Leo III giving the coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor in 800. Because Charles and his ancestors had been rulers of the Frankish realm earlier (his grandfather Charles Martel had essentially founded the empire during his lifetime), the coronation did not actually constitute a new empire. Most historians prefer to use the term "Frankish Kingdoms" or "Frankish Realm" to refer to the area covering parts of today's Germany and France from the 5th to the 9th century.