32 Facts About Alcuin


Alcuin was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York.


Carolingian minuscule was already in use before Alcuin arrived in Francia.


Alcuin wrote many theological and dogmatic treatises, as well as a few grammatical works and a number of poems.


Alcuin was born in Northumbria, presumably sometime in the 730s.


The young Alcuin came to the cathedral church of York during the golden age of Archbishop Ecgbert and his brother, the Northumbrian King Eadberht.


Ecgbert was devoted to Alcuin, who thrived under his tutelage.


From here, Alcuin drew inspiration for the school he would lead at the Frankish court.


Alcuin revived the school with the trivium and quadrivium disciplines, writing a codex on the trivium, while his student Hraban wrote one on the quadrivium.


Around the same time, Alcuin became a deacon in the church.


Alcuin joined an illustrious group of scholars whom Charlemagne had gathered around him, the mainsprings of the Carolingian Renaissance: Peter of Pisa, Paulinus of Aquileia, Rado, and Abbot Fulrad.


Alcuin became master of the Palace School of Charlemagne in Aachen in 782.


From 782 to 790, Alcuin taught Charlemagne himself, his sons Pepin and Louis, as well as young men sent to be educated at court, and the young clerics attached to the palace chapel.


Alcuin soon found himself on intimate terms with Charlemagne and the other men at court, where pupils and masters were known by affectionate and jesting nicknames.


In 790, Alcuin returned from the court of Charlemagne to England, to which he had remained attached.


Alcuin dwelt there for some time, but Charlemagne then invited him back to help in the fight against the Adoptionist heresy, which was at that time making great progress in Toledo, the old capital of the Visigoths and still a major city for the Christians under Islamic rule in Spain.


Alcuin is believed to have had contacts with Beatus of Liebana, from the Kingdom of Asturias, who fought against Adoptionism.


At the Council of Frankfurt in 794, Alcuin upheld the orthodox doctrine against the views expressed by Felix of Urgel, an heresiarch according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia.


Alcuin hoped to be free from court duties and upon the death of Abbot Itherius of Saint Martin at Tours, Charlemagne put Marmoutier Abbey into Alcuin's care, with the understanding that he should be available if the king ever needed his counsel.


The majority of details on Alcuin's life come from his letters and poems.


Alcuin's sequence is the solution to one of the problems of that book.


Alcuin made the abbey school into a model of excellence and many students flocked to it.


Alcuin had many manuscripts copied using outstandingly beautiful calligraphy, the Carolingian minuscule based on round and legible uncial letters.


Alcuin wrote many letters to his English friends, to Arno, bishop of Salzburg and above all to Charlemagne.


Alcuin trained the numerous monks of the abbey in piety, and in the midst of these pursuits, he died.


Alcuin wrote several theological treatises: a De fide Trinitatis, and commentaries on the Bible.


Alcuin is credited with inventing the first known question mark, though it did not resemble the modern symbol.


Alcuin transmitted to the Franks the knowledge of Latin culture, which had existed in Anglo-Saxon England.


Alcuin was a close friend of Charlemagne's sister Gisela, Abbess of Chelles, and he hailed her as "a noble sister in the bond of sweet love".


Alcuin wrote to Charlemagne's daughters Rotrude and Bertha, "the devotion of my heart specially tends towards you both because of the familiarity and dedication you have shown me".


Alcuin dedicated the last two books of his commentary on John's gospel to them both.


Such sins, argued Alcuin, were therefore more serious than lustful acts with women, for which the earth was cleansed and revivified by the water of the Flood, and merit to be "withered by flames unto eternal barrenness".


In January 2020, Alcuin was the subject of the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time.