Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alcuin of York, c735-804AD, who promoted education as a goal in itself, and had a fundamental role in the renaissance at Charlemagne’s court. He wrote poetry and many letters, hundreds of which survive and provide insight into his life and times. He was born in or near York and spent most of his life in Northumbria before accepting an invitation to Charlemagne’s court in Aachen. To this he brought Anglo-Saxon humanism, encouraging a broad liberal education for itself and the better to understand Christian doctrine. He left to be abbot at Marmoutier, Tours, where the monks were developing the Carolingian script that influenced the Roman typeface.

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  • Joanna Story No other episodes
    Professor of Early Medieval History at the University of Leicester
  • Andy Orchard 2 episodes
    Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Pembroke College
  • Mary Garrison 2 episodes
    Lecturer in History at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York

Reading list

  • Alcuin of York c. A.D. 732- 804: His Life and Letters
    Stephen Allott (William Sessions Limited, 1974) Google Books →
  • Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War
    Claire Breay and Joanna Story (British Library Press, 2018) Google Books →
  • Alcuin: Achievement and Reputation
    Donald Bullough (Brill, 2003) Google Books →
  • Charlemagne
    Roger Collins (MacMillan Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • A Mind Intent on God: The Prayers and Spiritual Writings of Alcuin: An Instruction
    Douglas Dales (Canterbury Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, volume 1, c.400-1100
    Richard Gameson (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2012) Google Books →
  • Alcuin: The Bishops, Kings, and Saints of York
    Peter Godman (ed.) (Clarendon Press, 1983)
  • Alcuin and his Influence on European Culture: Proceedings of the Germania Latina III Conference, Groningen, September 1995
    L. Houwen and A. MacDonald (eds.) (University of Groningen, 1998)
  • Ennobling Love: In Search of a Lost Sensibility
    C. Stephen Jaeger (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999) Google Books →
  • Carolingian Culture: Emulation and Innovation
    Rosamond McKitterick (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 1994) Google Books →
  • King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne
    Janet L. Nelson (Allan Lane, 2019) Google Books →
  • Early Medieval Europe, 300-1050. The Birth of Western Society
    David W. Rollason (Pearson, 2012) Google Books →
  • Charlemagne: Empire and Society
    Joanna Story (ed.) (Manchester University Press, 2005) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 270 (Christian church history)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Alcuin of York was one of the towering figures in the intellectual world of the 8th century and he changed education for the better and for good.