Alcuin (c.740 - 804)

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ALCUIN (Ealwine, Alcñwin, Alchuin, Latinized Flaccus Albinus), b. at York about 735; d. at Tours, May 19, 804; received a monastic education in the celebrated school of York, the repreentative of Irish learning on Anglo-Saxon ground, and became in 766 the master of the school himself. In 782, returning home from a journey to Rome, he met Charlemagne at Pavia, and was by him invited to assume the leadership of this palatial school, in which the sons of the most prominent Frankish noblemen were educated. He accepted the invitation, and was endowed with the abbeys of Bethlehem at Ferrières, and St Lupus at Troyes, to which, in 796, was added that of St. Martin at Tours. Thus living at the court, giving instruction to the king himself, and superintending the schools of the whole realm, Alcuin became one of the most prominent members of that circle of great men, which, with Charlemagne as its centre, stood at the head of the whole civilizing movement of the age. Charlemagne employed him several times as a political negotiator, especially in transactions with England; but his proper place was as the ecclesiastical councillor of the king, and in this field his influence was decisive... Towards the close of his life he left the administration of the several monasteries under his authority to his pupils, and retired into monastic seclusion.

The ideal which forms the inspiration of Alcuin’s whole life is that of a Christian state in which every thing is pervaded by a religious spirit, and regulated by the laws of the church; and he looked with admiration and awe to the realization of this ideal, which the energy and success of Charlemagne seemed to promise. Theology he consequently considered as the principal element of education. His own theology is wholly positive, without originality, derived from the Fathers. He wrote both on dogmatics: De Fide Sanctae et Individuce Trinitatis; De Trinitate ad Fridigisum Quaestiones; Libellus de processione Spiritus Sancti, etc.; and on exegetics. In his exegetical writings the mystico-allegorical method predominates. Classical learning, However, must not be neglected for theology. Classical and ecclesiastical traditions belong together; and, by combining them, the Christian Church becomes the true guardian of civilization. The Christian state which Charlemagne is establishing shall be a new Athens, of a higher stamp, - an Athens in which Christ is the master of the academy, and the seven arts an introduction to the septuple fulness of the holy Spirit. In the classical field, however, Alcuin himself was only a compilator. He wrote on grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic. He was a prolific poet, hut the greatest success in the literary line he achieved by his letters. By Charlemagne’s orders he revised the Latin Bible in 802, - a service for which we should be grateful, as he restored God’s word to a state of comparative purity.

Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. p.49.

Secondary Sources

Book or monograph S. Allott, Alcuin of York. William Sessions Limited, 1974. Pbk. ISBN: 0900657219. pp.174.
Book or monograph Charles Brockden Brown, Alcuin, Bicentennial Ed (1987) Kent State University Press, 1987. Hbk. ISBN: 0873383281. pp.438.
Article in Journal or Book D.A. Bullough, "Alcuin and the Kingdom of Heaven," Uta-Renate Blumnethal, ed. Carolingian Essays. Washington, DC.: Catholic University of America Press, 1983. Hbk. ISBN: 0813205794. pp.1-69. Reprinted in D.A. Bullough, Carolingian Renewal: Sources and Heritage. Manchester & New York, 1991.
Book or monograph Donald A. Bullough, Alcuin: Achievement and Reputation. Education and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Leiden: Brill, 2002. Hbk. ISBN: 9004128654. pp.528.
Book or monograph Gerald Ellard, SJ. Master Alcuin, Liturgist. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1956. pp.xiii + 266.
Book or monograph Duckett Es, Alcuin, Friend of Charlemagne His World and His Work. (January 1965) Shoe String Press, 1965. Textbook Binding. ISBN: 0208000704.
Book or monograph Mary Garrison, Janet L. Nelson & Dominic Tweddle, Alcuin and Charlemagne: the Golden Age of York. Maxiprint, 2001. Pbk. ISBN: 0905807189.
Book or monograph Wilhelm Levison, ed. England and the Continent in the Eighth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press Reprints distributed by Sandpiper Books, 1998. ISBN: 0198212321. pp.148-76.
Book or monograph John Marrenbon, From the Circle of Alcuin to the School of Auxerre: Logic, Theology and Philosophy in the Early Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. ISBN: 052123428X.
On-line Resource G.S.M. Walker, The Growing Storm. Sketches of Church History from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1350G.S.M. Walker, The Growing Storm. Sketches of Church History from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1350. London: The Paternoster Press, 1961. Hbk. pp.252. View in PDF format pdf [All reasonable efforts have been made to contact the copyright holder of this article without success. If you hold the rights, please contact me]
Book or monograph Luitpold Wallach, Alcuin and Charlemagne: Studies in Carolingian History and Literature. Cornell Studies in Classical Philology, 32. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1959. pp. x + 325.
Book or monograph Andrew Fleming West, Alcuin and the Rise of the Christian Schools. London: Greenwood Press. Hbk. ISBN: 083711635X. pp.205.

Related Subjects  
Peter Abelard | Aelfric | Alcuin |Anselm | Augustine of Canterbury | Thomas Becket | Bede | Benedict | Bernard of Clairvaux | Boniface | Thomas Bradwardine | Bruno | Catherine of Siena | Charlemagne | Charles Martel | Clare | Clovis | Columba | Dominic | Duns Scotus | Dunstan | Meister Eckhart | Desiderius Erasmus | Francis of Assisi | Gottschalk | Gregory I | Gregory of Rimini | Gregory of Tours | Hildegard of Bingen | Hugo of St Victor | Ignatius Loyola | Innocent III | Isidore | Joachim of Fiore | John Huss | John of Damascus | John of Wesel | Jerome of Prague | Julian of Norwich | Marjory Kempe | Ramon Llull | Nicholas of Cusa | Nicholas of Lyre | Patrick | Pepin (Pippin III) | Peter Damian | Peter Lombard | Peter the Venerable | Photius | Richard Rolle | Scholastica | Thomas Aquinas | Wilfred | William of Ockham | William of St-Theirry | John Wycliffe

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