Alcuin of York

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Alcuin of York (Lat.: Alcuinus; Anglo-Saxon: Ealhwine; also called Albinus, Flaccus) was an important early medieval teacher and scholar. He was born around 735, and died on 19 May 804.


Alcuin was raised in Northumbria, and attended the cathedral school of Archbishop Egbert at York. In 767, following Egbert's death, Alcuin, already a prominent English intellectual, became the school's director.

He met Charlemagne while returning from Rome in March of 781, and Charlemagne recruited Alcuin to head the Frankish palace school. Aside from two return trips to England, in 786 and 790, Alcuin remained on the Continent for the rest of his life as a reformer, educator, and close advisor to the Frankish king.

In 796, he became abbot of St. Martin's at Tours, where he retired to write.


As a theologian, Alcuin was perhaps most important for his condemnation of Spanish Adoptionism, as advanced by the bishops Elipandus of Toledo and Felix of Urgell.

Alcuin oversaw many of the intellectual and educational reforms of the Carolingian Renaissance, and his students at the palace school went on to become some of the most important figures of the Carolingian era.

Almost all of Alcuin's work writings date from the period of his retirement between 796 and 804, and include a number of important exegetical and didactic treatises. Like much of Carolingian literary production, Alcuin's work is largely derivative, depending extensively on excerpts from earlier patristic texts. He also left behind an important series of letters, collected after his death, that are today regarded as one of the most important sources for early medieval continental history.

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