128. The Carlovingian Renaissance. Alcuin. -- In 778 Charlemagne, influenced no doubt by Alcuin, whom he had summoned from Great Britain, gave to Bangulf, Bishop of Fulda, the famous capitulary in which he encouraged the foundation of monastic and episcopal schools. This was the signal for that brilliant revival of learning which is the emperor's greatest title to renown. The renaissance of the ninth century was not exclusively philosophical: it extended to all the branches of learning then known. And furthermore, it was in more direct connection with classic antiquity than with patristic learning.
ALCUIN (735-804) was the leading spirit in the emperor's educational reforms. Himself a former pupil of the school of York, Alcuin met Charlemagne in 781 and taught for eight years at the imperial court. The monarch himself and his sons and daughters attended the master's lectures. After a life of feverish activity, Alcuin retired to the seclusion of the abbey of St. Martin of Tours. There he founded a school in which he spent the remainder of his days. Alcuin was rather a compiler and grammarian than a philosopher. There is nothing in his logical works beyond what may be found in Boëthius and Cassiodorus. His high repute as a philosopher is undeserved: but a great and powerful originator of an intellectual revival he undoubtedly was. He introduced the trivium and quadrivium into the palace school, and his books were retained as manuals. The schools that sprang from the movement inaugurated by him, prevented philosophy from monopolizing the attention of the learned down to the erection of the University of Paris.
His principal works in philosophy are: De Virtutibus et Vitiis ad Widonem comitem; De Animae Ratione Liber ad Eulaliam virginem (a collection of Augustinian theses on psychology); Grammatica; Dialectica.
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