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decorative picture .Evolution of Culture Between Rome and The Carolingians .The Carolingian Renaissance .Alcuin .Paulinus .Enlisting Clergy .The Palace School


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Alcuin (right) and Rabanus Maurus (left)Alcuin (right) and Raban Maur (left)

Originating from a noble and wealthy Northumbrian family, Alcuin had been born about 735 A.D. in or near York, England. Alcuin himself had changed it Saxon name of origine, Alcwin, into the latinized one of 'Albinus' with the first name 'Flaccus' as it was his original name which survived however. The only one one knows from his family was a brother to him, Arnon, surnamed 'Aquila' who became bishop of Salzburg. Alcuin might have been related to Willibrord, missionary to the Frisians and master of St. Boniface. He entered since his childhood in the York's cathedral school, under Egbert and Aelbert who successively were archbishops there. He was also a pupil to St. Colgan. He learned Latin and Greek and basics of Hebrew. Alcuin then became the master in that school about 767 A.D. and was further in charge of the library. Pious, he was ordained deacon. Together with his master Aelbert, he improved the school's library through journeys to Rome for manuscripts as York became one of the best library of Europe as the school one of the most important centers of learning. Alcuin may be seen like he continued the work led by Bede in Jarrow and although Irish tradition had been brought to Northumbria, Alcuin is better linked to the more strictly Roman tradition of Canterbury. Some think that rhetorics already was absent from the teachings at that time, hence Alcuin had been mostly trained into grammar only

Archbishop Eanbalde sent Alcuin in Rome to look for his pallium and, as he returned, Alcuin about 781 A.D. journeyed through Parma where Charlemagne found himself at the time. Charles then was looking for scholars to help with his endeavour of restoration of culture in the Frankish world. Alcuin already sported a certain fame and Charles asked him to come into the Frankish lands as soon as he would have fulfilled his mission. Thus that same year, by 780 A.D., Alcuin came into Aachen once the authorization of his archbishop and the King of England obtained. Alcuin in Aachen attended a meeting of the leading scholars of the time. Charlemagne entrusted him with the abbeys of Ferrières-en-Gâtinais, St-Loup (Troyes) and the smallest monastery of St-Josse, in Ponthieu. Came with him disciples, Fridugise and Joseph, St Ludger or Putul and it was to be a hallmark of the work of Alcuin that his lessons attracted disciples who spread elsewhere what he had taught. Alcuin became Charles 'first adviser' in the revival of letters, but most importantly, his main task was to teach the Royal family and the Greats of the Court. Alcuin was appointed headmaster of the Palace School. During two periods, 782-790 and 793-796, he became at the same time teacher at the School, a minister of education of sort for the Frankish kingdom, and, through the development of the easier-to-use Caroline minuscule script, the preserver of ancient works and knowledge for next generations. The profound cultural influence Alcuin exerted on the whole Frankish Kingdom was due to the high esteem in which Charlemagne and his courtiers held him. He taught grammar, rhetoric, dialectic and the elements of geometry, astronomy, and music. What Alcuin teached at the court would nowadays be considered the merest rudiments. Alcuin's enthousiasm for learning, teaching, and library work made him the natural master of the next generation of European teachers and scholars

Alcuin returned only once into England as a envoy to make peace with King Offa of Mercia, in 792 A.D. After a 3-year stay, Alcuin returned to France and remained permanently there since. He devoted himself to defending Church from heresies and to pursuing the work of the cultural renaissance. At the Council of Frankfurt in 794, he fought Elipand Bishop of Toledo and Félix d'urgel his disciple, the supporters of the Adoptionist heresy, that Jesus Christ was the adopted son of God. Alcuin personally confused Felix at the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle in 799, as the latter abswore his heresy. Alcuin ended up getting tired of the Court but Charlemagne, giving him the Abbey of St-Martin-de-tours in 796, prevented him from withdrawing there, or to Fulda to enjoy a proper discipline. Alcuin, however, was not part of the trip to Rome in 800, during which the Imperial coronation took place. Theodulf, Bishop of Orléans in 796, succeeded Alcuin at the Court as adviser of Charlemagne in educational matters. After retiring definitively to St-Martin-de-Tours like the abbott, Alcuin immediately opened a school where important disciples trained and exported elsewhere like Sigulfe (Ferrières), Raban Maur, Haimon (Halberstat), Samuel (Worms), Amalaire (Metz). In Tours, Alcuin pursued his same work and he had brought to the abbey some rare works from York. As Alcuin told himself, he sowed in Britain, he later sowed in France so to bring some the Holy Scriptures and others the ancient learning. Alcuin's whatever love he had for the classics changed towards the end of his life into a deep-seated suspicion of all 'pagan literature.' In the meantime, Alcuin had linked a strong friendship with St. Benedict of Aniane and he hired monks to reform like the latter. Alcuin, always anxious to respect the observance more, obtained from Charlemagne that St. Martin pass to Fridugise and Ferriè:res to Sigulf, who were his disciples and he could devote himself to the Rule. But also to study still, always either praying or reading, either teaching or writing. It was at that time that he corrected the Bible (the Old and the New Testament) as that corrected Bible spread in various places. Copies were still used in the 19th century to give correct editions of the Texts. Alcuin then wrote another Bible to the prayer of Raolo, Abbot of St-Vaast, in Arras, and a book of the Gospels (which Raolo gave like a present to the monastery of Aniane). Like a theologian, Alcuin was bringing a taste of Rome to the Frankish Church. Alcuin also corrected secular books or he worked in liturgy. Thus he ended his life on May 19, 804 A.D., the day of Pentecost, as he had wished. He was buried in the Church of St.-Martin and a epitaph, which he had composed in his lifetime, was engraved on a copper plate. As Alcuin was attributed the gift of prophecy and miracles, Raban, Hincmar or others recognized him as Blessed but his feast did not last, not even in St-Martin-de-Tours

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