Alcuin

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Alcuin

Alcuin (ăl´kwĬn) or Albinus (ălbī´nəs), 735?–804, English churchman and educator. He was educated at the cathedral school of York by a disciple of Bede; he became principal in 766. Charlemagne invited him (781?) to court at Aachen to set up a school. For 15 years Alcuin was the moving spirit of the Carolingian renaissance. He combated illiteracy with a system of elementary education. On a higher level he established the study of the seven liberal arts, the trivium and quadrivium, which became the curriculum for medieval Western Europe. He encouraged the study and preservation of ancient texts. His dialogue textbook of rhetoric, called Compendia, was widely used. He wrote verse, and his letters were preserved. Alcuin's treatise against Felix of Urgel did much to defeat the heresy of adoptionism. He died as head of the abbey of St. Martin of Tours, where he had one of his most famous schools.

See studies by E. J. B. Gaskoin (1904), E. Duckett (1951, repr. 1965), and G. Ellard (1956).

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