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Alcuin of York

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Portrait of Alcuin of York

A portrait of Alcuin of York based on a medallion from the 9th-century Bamberg Bible.

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This profile of Alcuin of York is part of
Who's Who in Medieval History

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Alcuin of York was noted for:

Being the foremost scholar of the Carolingian Renaissance. Alcuin also made important reforms in the Catholic liturgy, brought Anglo-Saxon traditions of humanism into Europe, wrote histories and poetry, and served as the head of Charlemagne's Palace School at Aachen.

Occupations & Roles in Society:

Places of Residence and Influence:

Important Dates:

Died: May 5, 804

Quotation from Alcuin of York:

"And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God (Vox Populi, Vox Dei), since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness."
-- Letter to Charlemagne, 800 C.E.

More Quotations by Alcuin

About Alcuin of York:

Alcuin was born in Yorkshire and attended the cathedral school of York. He stayed on to teach and, sometime around 778, became headmaster. Alcuin helped make the school an important center of learning, compiling an impressive library. He also wrote a long poem about the most renowned men in York's history.

In 781, Alcuin accepted an invitation from Charlemagne to go to Aachen, where the Frankish king was bringing together the foremost scholars of the time.

In Aachen, Alcuin became the head of Charlemagne's Palace School, where Charlemagne's family, friends, friends' children, and even Charlemagne himself were all taught. Alcuin became a good friend of the king, and personally taught his two sons himself.

At the Palace School, Alcuin reorganized the curriculum, introducing methods of learning from England and raising the standards of scholarship. Under Alcuin's guidance, the Palace School became a vibrant center of learning and the exchange of knowledge.

Alcuin retired from the Palace School in 796, and was appointed by Charlemagne abbot of the Abbey of St. Martin at Tours. There he encouraged his monks to copy and preserve many manuscripts, and to use the new Carolingian Miniscule script, the precursor of the modern Roman lettering we use today. Alcuin had a strong influence on the development of the Christian Church in Europe; he revised the liturgy, introduced the Irish Northumbrian custom of singing the creed, reedited the Latin Vulgate, and wrote quite a few works on education and theology.

More Alcuin of York Resources:

Quotations from Alcuin of York
Encyclopedia Article about Alcuin of York
Alcuin of York in Print
Portrait of Alcuin of York

Alcuin of York on the Web

Alcuin
Concise biography by John J O'Connor and Edmund F Robertson at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive.

Catholic Encyclopedia: Alcuin
Substantial biography by J. A. Burns.

Philosophy and Theology
Dark-Age Britain
Early Europe


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