site's logo and link back to the main entry page Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times arrow back Main Entry Site Map

decorative picture for the home page of the English-speaking section; Einhard's reliquary
Einhard's reliquary

decorative bandeau for the English-speaking home page, the same than the one of the home page but smaller

decorative pictureBeginning in the 5th century A.D., with the fall of the Roman empire, a new civilisation arose in the western part of the latter, based on the encounter between the German conquerors, the people living there, and the Roman Catholic Church. The Carolingian era was part of this creation. The Carolingians, in the 8th century, began to reign over the people living from the Baltic Sea to Spain and from the North Sea to Italy. This power, in turn, allowed the famed Carolingian Revival which safeguarded the works of the Antiquity. The reestablishment of a strong government by Charlemagne and his predecessors in the 8th century A.D. led to a revival in trade and culture in Europe. It is unsure this revival was the primary purpose of Charlemagne as it might just have been part of his concern to bring back the clergy of the time to more learning and knowledge and to give a new basis to the Frankish king's rule, upon a network of administrators able to reading and writing. Nevertheless, it is that effort which allowed such works to pass to the next generations of Europeans. The Carolingian era, generally, took place at a time when a European culture definitively had been born both distinct from Antiquity and Byzantium, as it swiftly was detourned to the benefit of a Cesaropapist renaissance of the Empire in the West, Gallicanism or even mistakes of rationalism however. Of note that the women in the medieval era were more the representatives of learning and education than men according to a long tradition to which -- both in the East and the West -- is was customary for educated women to study Scriptures, or that females orders had a remarkable role into missionarizing heathens. The West then was both a world at the fringes, with demography barely enough against epidemics or hunger, villages settling in the clearings only as forests remaining the place of wildness and threatening bandits -or 'bagaudes- or even hermits and monasteries, and a world in construction, with the building of the West keeping, the Frankish world asserting itself back in Europe, the culture of monasteries, or the reassertion of papacy. The Merovingians and the first Barbarian kingdoms, with Germanic peoples, had brought with them uncouthness and the focus upon survival, which had been inherited from the harshness of life on soils and the forests of Germany. Carolingians were to display, before the time of the 'white dress of churches" and the fervor of the Romanesque times rebirth, the last epidose of those ancient times which had been those of the Apocalypse and anguish of hunger, plague and death. The epoch further is still a one when the individual thinks itsefl into the collective only as the memory is important and even parades and processes. Reality of the Carolingien era was that of ethnical affinities and of social links. At last, let's remind that northern winters, those of the heart of the Carolingian world, were ones of snow
arrow back .First Things First .Charlemagne and Alcuin .Carolingian Scholars .Rome and Iona .The Seven Liberal Arts .A Base for Middle Ages' True Renaissance

arrow back First Things First
First things first! Let's begin with an overview of the Carolingian era. Chronology, society, state of the world. The Carolingians sprang from the disorders of the Merovingian era, as they eventually turned into the second race of the Frankish rulers. The time is the one of the advance of the Arabs against the South of Europe, as Byzantium is perpetuating the idea of empire. The Carolingians, ruling over a large swath of Europe, are standing like the defenders of it and those who managed to get from Byzantium that they acknowledge the rebirth of the empire in the West. The Carolingian Empire nevertheless balanced for the West, the two other closest greatest poles of power, the Byzantine Empire and the Arab Caliphate. The Empire, however, was heterogeneous and mainly hold function of the personality of the emperor. Charlemagne was to have taken advantage of his longevity which allowed him to a 46-years reign and securing a advantage relative to rivals who had more fragmentary reigns. The coincidence of that duration with that of popes along with his realism or his attachment to having the City of God to be born are also a explanation to that Carolingian potential -albeit cesaropapist. Charlemagne stabilized the West after the 4 centuries which had followed the Great Invasions. And, all in all, the Carolingians kept still to be part of what the Anglo-saxon scholars are calling the 'Dark Ages,' or those time of the Early Middle Ages
decorative picture .The Frankish Kingdom in 780 .People and Countries .The Carolingians and the Church .Links to Famed Texts (Einhard, etc)

arrow back Charlemagne and Alcuin
From 780 AD onward, Charlemagne aims at completing by learning the work he is leading by arms to extend and develop the Frankish kingdom. In 781, in Parma, he meets Alcuin. Alcuin was born in 735. Since 767 he has become master of the cathedral school of York. Charlemagne proposes him to become "Master of the Palace School." A palace school ("scola palatina") had been originally created at Merovingian times, at court, as a place for young Frankish nobles to learn the art of war and ceremonies of the court. With Charlemagne, Palace School is going to become a place of literary learning. Another piece of Charlemagne's effort was to enlist clerics. Through a series of capitularies (capitulary of 787, council of Aachen 789), clergy was advised to become more learned at the same time for the benefit of the Church herself, but, too, as a mean of forwarding the educational reform throughout the kingdom. Monastic and cathedral schools were soon going to spread
decorative picture .Evolution of Culture Between Rome and The Carolingians .The Carolingian Renaissance .Alcuin .Paulinus .Enlisting Clergy .The Palace School

arrow back Carolingian Scholars
Before Alcuin became Master of the Palace School, one thinks that diverse scholars originating in Ireland were already present in the kingdom and that Alcuin just enlisted them into service of new politics. Then Palace School and other schools formed next generation masters. A main step was the monastery school of Fulda too, founded by Rabanus Maurus. Other generations of Irishmen came again in what had become the Empire, under Charlemagne's successors, of them the famous John Scotus Erigena. It is possible that a first epoch of the Carolingian Renaissance, the one of Charlemagne and Alcuin, had an utilitarian purpose mainly, as that was, under the successors of Charlemagne, outpaced by a real intellectual current
decorative picture .Alcuin's Pupils .Rabanus Maurus .Irishmen

arrow back Rome and Iona
Two main learning trends appeared in the Frankish kingdom, then in the Empire. The first, initiated by Alcuin himself, was one of Roman orthodoxy, according to the tradition of Canterbury, Jarrow and York. The other was the one of Ireland which, from Iona, had already disseminated the classical culture throughout England and the Continent. Alcuin's school was building mainly upon Cassiodorus, St. Isidore of Seville and Venerable Bede, as the Irish school did upon the teaching of Greek, neo-Platonists, and Martianus Capella. The school of York, according to some however, united in its traditions the current of educational reform inaugurated in the South of England by Theodore of Tarsus and that other current which, starting from the schools of Ireland, spread over the entire northern part of England
decorative picture .Jarrow School .Iona School .The Transition Between the Antiquity and the Western Culture

arrow back The Seven Liberal Arts
From Palace School to monastic and cathedral schools, it was the so-called seven liberal arts which were taught. These domains were summarizing knowledge as it was then understood: grammar, rhetoric, dialectic (which formed the "trivium"); arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (the "quadrivium"). I.e. humanities and science. The trivium and quadrivium allowed to assimilate the culture of the Antiquity, with history, law and philosophy, thus to master the general problems the civil servants were to meet in public life. Teachers were reading, and pupils wrote on their wax-tablets. A strict discipline was performed through a "proscholus", a prefect of discipline
decorative picture .Seven Liberal Arts .Schools .Teaching

arrow back A Base for Middle Ages' True Renaissance
Carolingian educational efforts are important as, despite the times of disorder which soon arose, these efforts continued underground, everywhere troubles did not impede the work of monastic and cathedral schools, until dawn of universities later in the Middle Ages. Reims, Fulda, St. Gall, Liège, or Laon, were centers of learning appeared in Carolingian times. Antique culture was thus preserved until times were ripe for a real renaissance, as the Carolingian thinkers and theologians really may be considered the founders of Scholasticism, this new, rationalistic, move of the Christian thought, which culminated during the 13th century. It might well too that the general history of the West had to take into account a fundamental influence upon itself of Byzantium and the Greeks
decorative picture .Fulda .Schools of Carolingian Times .The Medieval Renaissance .Byzantium and The West

thumbnail to how a Carolingian count, as sent in an embassy to Baghdad might have travelled until the last reaches of the world How a Carolingian Count, as Sent in an Embassy to Baghdad, Might Have Travelled Until the Last Reaches of the World

thumbnail to how a Carolingian scholar would see the Universe and the world today How Would a Carolingian Scholar See the Universe and The World Today?

Disclaimer | Copyright | Privacy | About Us
Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 4/8/2019. contact us at
Free Web Hosting