The year is A.D. 781. King Charles of the Franks is crossing the Alps with his family and court on a journey to meet with Pope Hadrian. One frosty night he speaks to his young son Carl: When we come to Rome you will know that I am naming you my heir. One day you will rule over all my lands. . . . But the King already had an heir, Pepin the Hunchback, mockingly called Gobbo. Was he to be dispossessed? Yet Carl sees that Charlemagne is determined to do what he feels is best to serve God and Europe.