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The Transition Between the Antiquity and the Western Culture

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Since the beginning of the Barbaric invasions in the West of the Roman empire, in the beginning of the 5th century, until the Carolingian era, the history of knowledge and culture in the West is becoming chaotic. The whole word there is changing, with the culture passing from being an element of the life in the aristocratic, Roman families to the question of what attitude the new Church, and the German kingdoms are having towards it

The Culture in the West of the Roman Empire Before the Barbaric Invasions

Should one hold very specifically to the Celtic world which, at the exception of the German areas where the Roman influence had been less, was the main substrate unto which the Roman conquest had settled, the Celts were a people curious et volubile, friends to the art of speech and to the well-elaborated traits, with their bards, ovates prophets and druids. The Celts had become Gallo-Romans, after the Roman victories. The Romans in almost all the cities they build or improved, state schools, called 'gymnasiums'. This was the case in Narbonne, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Arles, Poitiers, Vienne, Besançon, Agen, Clermont, Périgueux, or even Trier, in Germany, etc.). Private schools are existing too. The teaching of those times is about literature, philosophy, maths, medicine, Virgilius, Homere and rhetorics, with the studies in law or philosophy necessitating that the students go to Rome (and that until in the 5th century A.D. when those matters will be authorized to be teached in the provinces too). Any gymnasium is added with arbored gardens and baths, which allow for gymnastics, the care of the bodies, which was prized by the Romans. Gymnasiums are managed by a 'gymnasiarch' who is assisted with several officers, like the 'proscholes', the 'antescholes' or the 'hypodidascales', who are watching over the masters and the students and coordinating the action of the teachers. The proscholes, particularly, are in charge of the gymnastics and of the discipline

An episode of the culture in the West is worth too the notice, the one which started from Phocea (currently Marseille, in France) and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, from southeastern to southern current France. This was of a Greek culture. It had a school in Marseille, and one in Autun, France. This current was prized by Cicero and Tacitus as it tended to perpetuate itself until to the first Fathers of the Church in southern Gaul, like Salvian, Cassian, St. Cesaire, or St. Avit. That Greek school was illustrated by writers or scientists like Telonus (for maths), Erastothenes (for history), Crinias and Demosthenes (for medicine), or Zenothenes (for law), and Trogus-Pompeius and Aulu-Gelle as far as literature is concerned. The city of Autun, in southwestern Burgundy, specifically, was the former capital city of the Gauls and the seat, for the South of their countries, of the power of their druids. Autun, since 297, by the order of the emperor Constantius Chlorus, had Eumenes, from the School of Athens, like its director. After the Roman conquest, Autun had replaced the ancient and Celtic Bibracte as it possessed a better location in the valley of the Arroux river. Autun was featuring all the features of a Roman city with a wall, doors, towers, a amphitheater, a theater -considered the largest in the Roman world- and a university which was drawing the whole of the Gallo-roman youth. Augustodunum called itself 'soror and aemula Romae,' or the 'sister and follower of Rome!' By Eumenes' arrival, Autun already had been weakened due to the 3rd century disorders. Since the time of Roman emperor August on the other hand, through his son-in-law Agrippa, it was Lyons (Lugdunum) which had been considered the seat of the imperial power for the three imperial Gallic provinces of Gallia Aquitania, Gallia Lugdunensis, and Gallia Belgica. Gallia Narbonensis was remaining a senatorial province. Each year, by August 1st, delegates of the 60 Gallic peoples gathered at the Sanctuary of the Three Gauls (Tres Galliae) as Lyon served also as a starting point for a road network joining the rest of the Gallo-Roman world

The Fate of the Culture of the Antiquity After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire

Two new realties are facing the existing culture at the time of the fall of the Roman empire in the West. The one of the Church, first -with its influence further existing since even the beginning of the 4th century A.D. when it had been admitted in the Empire by the emperor Constantine the Great- and the one, secondly, of those new, German peoples settled into this part of Europe

The Church, at first -with St. Jerome like an example- despised the works of the Antiquity because they were considered the vector of the whole pagan thought! Then -like examplified by a council in Carthago- the Church kept forbiding the bishops to read the authors of the Antiquity but it authorized the works of those to be preserved, at the effect of that they might be fought, and the Church made the distinction between the sacred, and the profane literature. The admittance of Christianity by the Roman empire, about 300 A.D. brought, further, the prize given to schools, scholars, scientists and the schooling of youth, not taking in account the fact that the Church must train its own clerics on its own. The Church, too, for its own usage, is taking knowledges from the Antiquity, like astronomy -to check the date of Easter, music (for the liturgy), poetry, architecture, sculpture, painting, theatrical art, etc. During some time, after the fall of the Roman empire, moreover, the Roman schools in Gaul (Autun, Lyon, Bordeaux) kept working. The antique culture which kept being extent in the monastic and the cathedral schools was, above all, an utilitarian one, with Martianus Capella the favorite author used. Earlier still, Christians, which came out of the plebs, got into the Roman State schools to be teached. The fall of the Roman Empire in the West, at last, saw, at the very time it was falling, the accelerated development of the settlement of the Church, with a lot of monasteries built. It's there that the sacred and profane culture found its harbour, with any intellectual activity, and even some fundamental philosophical debates. Thus, those first great abbeys of the West were Ligugé, Marmoutiers (near Tours, France), Saint-Faustin (Nîmes), Saint-Victor (Marseille), Leirins (in the islands of Hyères), Saint-Claude (in Franche-Comté, France), Grigny (near Vienne, France), etc. Some of those monasteries, further, with, for example, Cassian, in Leirins, were under the influence of Eastern monks

The culture of the Antiquity, then, due to a form of interaction between the Church and the remainings of the Gallo-Roman aristocracy, is remaining the trait of the latter. That ancient, Roman styled, aristocracy could perpetuate itself until into the 6th century A.D. as it kept too to have members of it becoming bishops (that was the case, for example, until Gregory of Tours, St. Eloi or St. Ouen). Culture and the intellectual life always had some importance for this social group. Ausonius, Sidonius Apollinarius, or St. Avit were part of it. Generally however, among that aristocraty, a slow passage is noted, which makes that they pass from defending the Roman culture for itself, like a mark of being part of that group, to that they want then to bring that culture to the Germans which settled into their countries, or to bring it back to the Romans, in Italy, which had forgotten that culture! That is making the whole difference between an author like Boethius, who kept to live out of the new world which was emerging then in the West, had the nostalgy of the culture of the Antiquity, and who was a commentator and an interpretor of Aristotle, and who, by the end of Rome, deepened the art of reasoning, and an author like Cassiodorus, who, through its monasteries and the making of books, eventually composed a complete collection of the whole antique knowledge -of the seven liberal arts that is. He took the form of his works from Philo, Boethius and Martianus Capella. As far as grammar is concerned, his inspirator was Donatus. His passages about rhetoric are taken from Cicero, partly as about dialectic are from Varro and Boethius. About mathematics, he is borrowing from the Greek Nicomacos and from translations by Apuleius and Boethius. About music, he is about Gaudence -as translated by Mucianus- and the 'Contra Paganos' by St. Clement of Alexandria. He is about Boethius as far as astronomy is concerned and Varro for geometry, along with Censorinus and Euclid as translated by Boethius. All those knowledges from the past, Cassiodorus took to heart to make it simple and easy to know by heart. That trend, as initiated by Cassiodorus, did keep on, for example, in Spain, where Isidore of Seville mostly took back the works of Cassiodorus in his encyclopedic work, the 'Etymologiae', adding only some few personal ideas, or, in England, through the Venerable Bede! St. Isidore kept the most famed, and most quoted, Western author. His 'Etymologiae' was written in Latin by the early 7th century A.D. as that work was aiming to gather the knowledge of his time and turned like the first encyclopedia of Christian West. It might that Isidore got the influence of this older brother St. Leander, which directed the intellectual life of him, and transmitting him a scholarship composed of the Antiquity and the Church culture. Such a multiform culture expressed thus itself into the 'Etymologiae', which is to be considered the first encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. It was also a scientific one, with was composed according to accurate rules, and featuring a accurate method, or a rigorous plan. St. Isidore's method based upon 'etymologism', which was of a platonicist origin, with any word defining the thing it points to. Etymologiae thus are a set of knowledge related to the liberal arts -and more, with other domains of knowledge- and the science and technology domains, as they are about God, Nature, and man. Some, on a other hand, are considering St. Isidore like the forefather to the Enlightment's Encyclopedists as, beyond the usual liberal arts, he refers to philosophy, language, medicine, law, maths, natural science and domestic arts

The German aristocraties, as far as they were concerned, and who had become the new masters in the West, mostly cherished their military values! At the most, for those of these German warriors who are Roman Catholic, 'culture' is equivalent to monks and religious life, and if any respect of the culture is to be found among those new elites, it's on that basis only that it's to be found. The prestige, for those Germans, is to be acquired through war and conquest only as the culture doesn't even is used to communicate in those assemblies of armed men, which both serve like techniques of government and the meetings of the German aristocraties. That attitude of the German military elites towards culture did last long! That's not to say that any cultural worry is absent from those however. Some form of cultural life did keep on among the courts of those Western rulers. The Burgundians, thus, had a school settled in Lyon as it was managed by bishop Viventiolus and the Visigoths managed to have published that famed 'Alaric's Breviarius', which was a summary for the Theodosian Code, or an Ostrogothic king, like Theodoric, admitted like for his helpers authors like Cassiodorus, Symnacus, or Boethius (the scientific knowledge however of that time, among the Ostrogoths, did consist only into two books of the Geometry by Euclides, or some fragments of Aristotle as translated by Boethius...). That form of respect of the culture by those German people likely was linked to the fact that they -albeit they were heretics, of the Arian kind- were Christians and thus was making that link between the culture and the Church. The first of the Franks, at the opposite, had long staid pagans and thus had staid distant from culture until when Clovis converted, by the end of the 5th century. Even among the Lombards, later on, an intellectual life existed, pecularily among the schools of Pavia, whence, for example, Paul the Deacon, or Peter of Pisa were issuded

The decline of the intellectual life on the mainland, in the West, made that, eventually, the preservation of culture became the benefit of Ireland. St. Patrick, thus, had been trained in Leirins and there he had received the influence of the East. Ireland, as a Celtic island, did accept the Christianism mostly as it was exalting the works of the spirit, thus matching the mysticism of the druids! St. Patrick himself had been born in Wales. The Irish Christianism and the Irish scholars were refering to St. John, before all, who is the most mystical of the four Evangelists. All that made that the intellectual life, in Ireland, was of a very high level and that the scholars there allowed themselves to an intellectual audacity which was thus related to the ancient Celtic druids. They did read, for example, some platonist authors who were much few compatible with the Christian mainstream. Martianus Capella was among them, being close with the ancient mysteries of Egypt, symbolism and the mysterious sciences coming for the antique paganism. The mystical aspect of the Irish catholicism made too, in terms of the monastic life, that the monks developed strong ascetic practices

Like a conclusion, one might propose that the subsistance of a relatively stronger and more coherent power in the East, in Byzantium, after the Western Roman Empire had fallen, likely had an influence on what was happened in the West. The strong influence of Martianus Capella in the clerical schools in Gaul, or the influence of the Neo-Platonicists in Ireland might hint to that

The Culture in the Merovingian Times

The factors of disorder in the West did increase at the time of the Merovingians, those successors of Clovis, that is. The time is characterize by that a progressive -but neat however- weakening of the Byzantine empire since about the year 600 A.D. for cause of theological debates (about 640) then of the Arab conquest (about 660), brings to the pope in Rome to be back to re-develop an independent policy, mostly, by the way, first, focusing unto the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England, where the influence of Rome is strongly pushed. Monasticism, on the other hand, is receiving a renewed might, in the kingdoms of the West, on the mainland, trough the rule of St. Colombanus during the first half of the 7th century. Colomban gave back to the monks a function of missionarizing. The Irishmen too created new abbeys and monasteries, like in Brittany -early- then in Luxeuil, Bregenz, Saint-Gall, Remiremont, Jumièges, Jouarre, Saint-Wandrille, Corbie, or Fécamp. The rule of St. Benedict however, that founder of the Western monasticism, soon expanded into the West too during the journey of St. Augustine into England. Some 20 years later than the monks of St. Colombanus, the Benedictines created new abbeys too, like in Saint-Pierre-en-Vallée (near Auxerre, France), Saint-Riquier, Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, Saint-Amand, Saint-Bertin (also said Saint-Omer), Stavelot, Malmédy, Saint-Dié, Saint-Vaast (near Arras), Fleury-sur-Loire, Moissac, or Noirmoutier. That influence of the Benedictines in the West maybe is matching the will of those Germanic kingdoms to get an independent individuality! Albeit it tended to close unto itself, Ireland, like it seems, kept however to exert some form of intellectual influence, which will be found even down to the time of Charlemagne, or of his successors. Those Merovingian times, for the Frankish world, is a time when culture is finding its refuge in the monasteries and a time when culture is a sacred culture only. Clerics do learn to read, they read the Bible and the Fathers of the Church. They are teached grammar, music and theology, with a difference between lesser and larger classes. Parochial churches soon too have their own schools early (one speaks about 'bishopric schools', or, more simply, of 'Church schools'), with Pope Gregory the Great setting some in Rome as soon as of the 6th century. The institution of such schools is further recommanded by councils, like in Tours, Vaison, Liege, Clif, and Constantinople. A lot of them are set in Gaul, Britain, or Spain. Some other decisions recommand too that schools be added to parochial church in the country, where in a 'pastophorium', a priest has to gather 'readers' and to train them into the literature and the priesthood (this institution is the early origin of the seminaries, those dedicated schools where future priests are trained). Bishops themselves, in their cathedral cities, do personally exert that function of teaching, as far as the Christian doctrine is concerned -and this is one of their basic obligation- and they do that for the clerics and the laymen, the young and the old. Examples of those bishops are St. Rémi in Reims, St. Pretextat in Rouen, St. Germain in Paris, St. Gregory in Tours, or Venantius Fortunatus in Poitiers

Among the Frankish world, stricto sensu, the relations with the pope are breaking at that time of the Merovingians. As far as the stance of the Franks towards culture is concerned, Clovis looks like he settled a 'Palace School" in his palace near the abbey of S. Genevieve. There, people were trained into literature and poetry. It looks like however that it was not a lasting institution as it mostly was dedicated to the teaching of Childebertus, the king's son. Further, an ancient German tradition, called 'commendatio', or 'comitatus', by which young warriors entrusted themselves to an older, famed chief to be, among others, trained to the art of war, did was partly transformed, in the Merovingian court, into that young Frankish nobles came to the king to be trained not only into the art of war but to be trained generally too! One or two bishops in the surroundings of the king, who were given the title of 'chiefs of the clerics of the Palace', took the charge of teaching to those religion and literature! The Palace School, which had been created for Childebertus was perpetuated by him and by Queen Ultrogotha and by his own sister, Swegotha. The king was speaking Latin, as he was the first of the Merovingians to do so and a form of academy has kept ot be extent at the court, with bards, clerics and monks who came from Greece. Those were meeting in the palace and the gardens of it, in Issy, near Paris. Noblemen too came from the province, like an Aquitan man, named Frambald, as they were sent to the school to be trained. Such an intellectual activity kept on too with Clotaire I and then Charibert, kings in Paris and too -and a stronger one- under King Chilperic I, as that lasted until by the end of the 6th century. This likely is the clear mark of a will of and independent cultural life from the part of the Merovingian kings in the Frankish kingdom or, maybe, too, some will of being influential which might have come from Byzantium, or from Visigothic Spain. As far as the Merovingians are concerned, one really can evoke a 'Palace School', strictly, under King Clotaire II, about 620, with the previous cenacles and academies acquiring a character of stability and lastingness. This is the mark that another influence is taking place now, with the first chief of the school Betharius, a high-ranking Roman, who had been trained in the schools of Italy which had been revivified through Boethius and Cassiodorus, and who had came to settle into Chartres. He founded schools there, along with the bishop and he was called to the court as soon as of 590. Were his successors into the function of chief of the Palace School after him Rusticus (from 594 to 622 as he was later bishop of Cahors), St. Sulpicius of Bourges (about 616; he was too the chapelain of the king), Athanasius, Riculf and Varimbert (from 630 to 640), St. Ouen (about 640; he was the archbishop of Rouen). According to the principle of the old 'comitatus', the Merovingian Palace School was attended by the young Frankish princes and high-ranking lords. The Latin literature was already taught in there, and the 'German' literature too! Were taught too the old 'national' songs which were glorifying the past and the great warrying deeds, laws, both Barbaric and Roman. St. Léger, the disciple of St. Sulpicius was trained in the Palace School too and then himself, like the abbot of Saint-Maixent and the bishop of Autun, he founded numerous schools. He was called back into the court by Queen Bathilde, the queen to king Clovis II to be the director of the palace, and to train the three sons of the king. St. Léger eventually became the chief of the Palace School between 651 and 673. The Palace School, at the time of the Merovingians, likely did adopt the nomad way of life of the sovereigns. The definitive decline of the Merovingians, since about 650 A.D. seems to have brought to the one of their Palace School

If we were to summarize, it seems that it be well possible that, amongst the play of the strategies of Rome and the Byzantine Empire, not taking in account the case of Ireland, a larger independence of the pope, in Rome and his dynamism towards the kingdoms in Britain did allow, through the expansion of the influence of the Rule of St. Benedict, a larger 're-focusing' for the two other main Barbaric kingdom of the West then, the one of the Franks, and the one of the Visigoths! The Franks, for example, showed that interest for culture and had their Palace School at work, as the Visigoths converted, at that same time, to the Roman Catholicism, and had a first form of cultural renaissance too, with Isidore of Seville

The State of Culture Just Before the Carolingian Revival

It looks like, as far as the geopolitics is concerned, that a form of pause of the decline of the Byzantine Empire, with, further, a form of being back to a dialog between the pope and the Eastern empire, have, about 680 A.D. the two most important Western kingdoms, the one of the Franks, and the one of the Wisigoths, be abandonned to renewed disorders. Among the Franks, the Carolingians are beginning to exert the reality of the kingly power and disorders arise from the question of the access of Charles Martel to power, about 714, as, among the Wisigoths, a neat decline is seen, which is to last until the Arab invasion in 711-714. The dynamism of the will of his independence by the pope however is supported, willing or not, by the Lombardic ambitions, and too, by the rise of a new theological dispute in the Byzantine Empire -the one of the iconoclasm, since 730- or even by the Arab threats too which becomes more insisting, from Spain, is bringing to some new change. After a break of the Frankish relations with Rome and a crisis of the Frankish Church (no assembly is gathered since the council of Rouen, in 689 and the bishoprics become appropriated by the laymen or are falling into temporal worries), with a crisis of the culture of the culture among the Franks too (the secular clerics do not know reading anymore and nobody teaches anything to the laymen anymore (with some private teaching keeping among the aristocratic families however); the clerics only now are able to take the functions of the administration after the year 700; Charles Martel is not able to write anymore as his father, Pippin of Herstal did), both of which matching the renewal of power of the Byzantine empire. The 70 first years of the 8th century A.D. are when the deepest of the cultural decline in the Frankish dominions is reached. Even clerics can't keep to be the refuge to scholarship as ignorance is spreading due to the decline of the State and the Church under the last Merovingians. That time is a time of anarchy, unjustices performed by the Greats and the reign of vice as Church itself is taken into the storm. Her wealth and clerics even are assaulted, the ecclesiastical seats are given to unable, unvirtuous or lay ones which barely have received the tonsure, and the same for the abbeys. That is increased by the raids Sarrasines are peforming in the Frankish kingdom by the beginning of the century. At that lowest of the culture, some works only are still extant like some legends, pieces of history as poetry disappears and the whole frauded with ignorance and orthograph's faults. The missionary activity of Anglo-Saxon missionaries in Germany and Frisia only are preserving a certain level through the propagation of Scriptures. St. Boniface, archbishop of Mainz, or the 'Apostle of Germany,' is the exemplary figure of those as ordered by the pope and protected by Charles Martel. Boniface, by 751 confered Pippin the Short the sacre. He founded Fulda, Fritzlar or Utrecht, for example. Some feminine abbeys, like Eike, in current Belgium, are copying Church works. By 770, when Charlemagne become king of Franks, his dominions have become the ones of inculture. Clerics barely know reading and writing as their speeches or letters are full of varied faults. Canons of councils further are well showing that that decline, those clercis who do not master the sacred works anymore, have had consequences upon the training of faithfulls

Culture, during those events, mostly lasted in the monasteries. A kind of taste for literature is reappearing, for example, as soon as the end of the 7th century. Isidore of Seville is read and quoted, as, above all, the monks are reading the sources. The geography of culture, further, also re-focused unto the North, like the economy did, passing from the strongly romanized regions, with strong Roman-style aristocracies were it was still relatively strong by 620 and then ravaged by the Arab raids and the military campaigns of the Pippinids, to Neustria and Austrasia, where the real large centers of culture are to be found now. The list of those, after the year 700 is such: Corbie, Fontenelle (which is the equivalent for St. Wandrille), Chelles, Saint-Denis, Meaux, Saint-Jean (in Laon), Fleury, Saint-Martin of Tours. Some exceptions are still to be found in the South of the Frankisk dominions with Boethius and Aristotle read in Lyon, Caesar and Virgilius in the monasteries in Auvergne, or Ovidus in the province of Rouergue. In those monasteries in the North, one is gathering manuscripts which one has brought from Rome or from Bobbio, Italy, or even from Ireland and, in some cases, from Spain. For illuminating the works of the scriptoria, one take like a model a 5th century Roman bible as one has at disposal other ancient works, from Africa or Spain of before the Arab conquest, coming futher maybe from there through Austrasia. Works are copied, one illuminates one's proper works (with an Eastern or Irish influence), new texts are written (lifes of saints mostly)! Libraries are settled which however can't rival with those of the monasteries in England. That nevertheless is showing a curiosity for something else than the Bible, to which, for example, St. Colombanus was limiting himself. What does that hint to? To a Frankish topism in the Benedictine monasteries? To some influence from Britain? That perpetuation, in any case, of that intellectual life, is just preparing the field for the Carolingian revival, with, when Charlemagne is to start it, the monks and the clerics ready for it! Such a move in the Frankish world, further, just can increase when the pope begins to support the work of missionarizing that St. Boniface is performing in the German lands. The culture there however still is limited to the formation, on a sacred point of view, of the monks, due to that the mission work only counts. In Reichenau, Fulda, Utrecht, Murback, the monks do read and comment the sacred texts, one has bibles coming from Italy, along with commentaries of the Fathers, letters of Gregory the Great, or homelies by Cesaire of Arles. Basic matters are taught to the young monks, which will allow them then the sacred culture! Some more South somewhat, in southern Germany -like in Coire, or Saint-Gall- Irish and Anglo-Saxon missionaries are present too as in Bavaria such nations are there too, in the abbeys and monasteries created by the dukes. Those regions of the borders of the Frankish world are to play a great role in the Carolingian renaissance! This renewal of the missionary work did was extent in direction of the German areas. Willibrord worked in Frisia, as Killien -an Irishman- in Thuringia; Winfrid (the first name which Boniface was bearing) did work in Frisia, then in Hesse, Thuringia, Bavaria and Alemania! And Boniface had other Anglo-Saxons coming to help! That dynamics, as initiated by St. Boniface, moreover is re-oriented towards the Franks about 730 A.D. Boniface had the support of them in his efforts in Germany, with them finding a possibility to support their own moves there and the monks finding a support, and lands. The Frankish is reformed by St. Boniface. First, on the plane of the morals and the discipline (the way the clerics are nominated, etc.)! Chrodegang, bishop of Metz becomes the Carolingian cleric who accustom the reform to the Frankish mood, the clear sign that those Frankish clerics are not hospitable to that reform which is managed by monks coming from England or from Ireland. Despite the success of that first step in the reform of the Frankish Church, a part of it however (the system of the 'royal abbeys', the roles of the Great) is remaining under the king's control and influence. The reconquest, among the Franks, is done too in the countryside, against the people returning to the paganism and against the syncretism and some pagan traditions which are remaining alive even among well christianized countryside, or cities' populations. The renewal, among the people, will be felt under Charlemagne only. That first step of the reform is marking a pause under Pippin the Short, the father to Charlemagne, who doesn't want a too strong interference by Rome into the Church in the kingdom and who has better working to the fidelity of the Frankish nobility. The result of all this, in any case, is a first intellectual revival, with as soon in 744 A.D. clerics able to fight a heresy -the one of Adalbert- and, in 767, them able to debate with Byzantine envoys about the icons and the Trinity! In those Benedectine monasteries -and even the Columbanian monks, on the mainland, have definitively passed to the Benedictine rule- they are writing annals (as the dates are defined by reference to the birth of Christ, according to the rule determined by Dionysius the Lesser, a Roman monk in the 6th century and which had been transmitted by the Venerable Bede), chroniques (Gregory of Tours, thus, is continuated by Fredegarius and then by a monk of Saint-Denis, by the demand of the half-brother of Charles Martel, until 727, and then continuated again after 751). The Greats have an influence of those works. Chrodegang thus will ask that it be stressed the Trojan origin of the Franks and the migration of the survivors of Troja, at the effect to evidence for the earlier antiquity of the Frankish race, as compared to the shorter in time legitimicay of the Merovingian kings. Most of what is written in the monasteries and abbeys however lies with the lifes of the saints (what is called 'hagiography'). That genre appeared in Rome as soon as in the 4th century and he flourished since the 6th century. That literary form is more of a moral preaching than of real history, as the works often are used to attract more pilgrims to some monastery than to some another one! As far as the Frankish elites are concerned, Charles Martel is aware of his lack of culture and he gathers some intellectual around himself; he is asking too for the counsel of lawyers as he has too his children raised in the abbey of Saint-Denis. Pepin the Short did have brought to his court, or held there, Italian and Irish scholars as he takes for the tasks in the chancellery the clerics who are the most able to write properly. The Latin of the royal diplomas begins to get improved thus but the clerics still just copy formulae as their own Latin keeps being corrupted. The fact, on another hand, that the control of the Church's domains by the warriors is strong, and increasing since Charles Martel, via the systems of the commands or 'precarii verbo regis', is a burden to the economic activity of the abbeys and monasteries hence for culture, which is not seen like essential. The Sarracene raiders are dammageable too to the efforts of maintaining a cultural activity

At last, let's evoke swiftly, what is occurring, at that same time, in the other European countries. Rome, with the pope, is obviously remaining a center of culture. The popes, most of the time, are scholars themselves as some relationships with the Greek monasteries are allowing for Greek works. A scriptorium is at work in the Latran palace as the 'scola cantorum' is dedicated to the chant and the liturgical poetry. The library in the Latran managed, along the centuries, to retrieve some private endeavours, like, for example the 6th century library of Cassidorus. Italy, generally, is a country where the works of the Antiquity are easily found, even if, between the end of the 6th, and the end of the 7th centuries, the Lombardic presence brought a lull into the intellectual life, with the Benedictine monasteries focusing onto St Benedict rule rather than on culture. The dukes of the Lombards however are not insensitive to the prestige of culture and, since about 700 A.D., a cultural life is reemerging. Great cultural centers are reappearing, like in the renewed Monte Cassino, Farfa, North of Rome, St Vincent of Volturno, or Bobbio (in the midst of the Lombardic lands of the North as the abbey had been -the library included- a foundation of St Colombanus). Nonantola, by the end of the 8th century, on the Po river, is another of those centers as Pavia self, the capital-city of the Lombards, in a relationship with Bobbio also became one with the clerics of the episcopal church studying grammar, some law or even poetry. In the rest of northern Italy, the cathedral churches are performing a minimal training as they are teaching grammar and comput to the clerics, the scribes and the notaries (for the trade cities). Spain, as far as it is concerned passed from the era of Isidore, with cities like Sevilla, Saragossa and Toledo to the one of the Arabs, with, now Cordoba a center for the intellectual syncretism between the Arab, Jewish and Christian scholars. That intellectual life in Cordoba didn't have however any influence in Europe in the 8th century, nor upon the Carolingian Renaissane, as it's only in the 10th century that it will trigger a form of rebirth of philosophy and science, through the translations made in Latin, of Greek and Arabic works. England, for his part, is parting between the Wessex, with an Irish influence and the other kingdoms, where the development of a Latin and Roman culture is predominant, all of those developing large libraries. Ireland keeps being the center of famed schools, like in Bangor. Books and men are circulating in the Europe of the time. The scriptoria, in Rome, Bobbio or the Monte Cassino are spreading the antique books they are copying; the chiefs of the schools of England are journeying to Rome to pick up copies, or they are working with the Irish clerics. Monks from Aquitaine take refuge in Farfa, from the Frankish conquest, as the Monte Cassino is greeting Willibald (he came from Wessex as he will be one of the lieutnants of St Boniface) or having like a pupil Paul Warnfried, a Lombard, who is to become Paul the Deacon. The Monte Cassino, too, like Bobbio, is welcoming numerous other Frankish, or English scholars. St Boniface visited the cathedral school in Pavia, like, on the other hand, did Pipin the Short, by 756, as he had received some training in the abbey of St. Denis

Thus, from the West of the Roman Empire, where one was uniformly practising the culture of the Antiquity, one eventually passed, at the eve of the Carolingian renaissance, to cultural systems which already are to be considered 'national' and to some form of European identity, which is focusing unto the North of the Gauls, Austrasia and even Germany. The fate of the Franks, once more, between the will of the Byzantine empire to subjugate the 'Barbaric kinglets' and the one of the pope to move its own pawns, allow them to rise like the power of the Western mainland. And that, that time, will eventually end into the coronation of Charlemagne like the emperor of the West, and the revival of the Empire! The long-lasting trend in the cultural evolution of the western, and eastern post-Roman world is that of the passage from the culture of Antiquity to that of the 'European' cultures, those, that is, which are appearing among those new Barbaric kingdoms where a new identity is being born, based on the merger between the Germanic elites and their 'Gallo-Roman' peoples, as the Eastern Roman Empire turned Greek. Rome, as far as it is concerned, as the center of the Roman catholicism, doesn't play a lesser role in the move, as that role is function of the real level of independence that the pope is having, related to Byzantium. Byzantium renewed weakness since about 730, the Lombardic dynamism and the increasing aura of the Carolingians after the battle in Tours, against the Sarracene raiders, in 732, are going to allow for another chance for culture!

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