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Alcuin: Achievement and Reputation

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Overview

In this biography of Alcuin (d. 804), the most prominent Anglo-Saxon scholar at the court of Charlemagne, Donald Bullough deploys a lifetime's expertise in the study of early medieval manuscripts. Concentrating on Alcuin's early years in Northumbria and then his time at the Carolingian court, Bullough reassesses the chronology of Alcuin's career and writings, assesses his use of patristic and insular writings, and explores the contemporary significance of his large output. At the core of this book lies a fundamental reassessment of the dating of Alcuin's letters: in so doing, it reveals the patterns of intellectual exchange and textual community that characterised the first phase of the Carolingian Renaissance. It thus offers a uniquely detailed and nuanced exploration of the life and ideas of the most influential early medieval scholar.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'...this book provides a rich basis for further investigation of the career and work of Alcuin.'
Rosamond McKitterick, The Catholic Historical Review, 2005.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Donald A. Bullough was Professor of Medieval History at the University of Nottingham (1966-1973) and then at the University of St Andrews (1973-91). An expert on early medieval manuscript and cultural history, he is also the author of The Age of Charlemagne (1965) and Carolingian Renewal: Sources and Heritage (1991).
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Table of Contents

Publisher’s Note ... xi
Donald Bullough Memoir ... xiii by Giles Contable

Preface ... xvii
Chronology ... xxiii
List of Abbreviations ... xxv

PART ONE
In Defence of the Biographical Approach. The Sources ... 3
Theme and Variations ... 3
The Modern Reputation and the Contemporary Period ... 12
Posthumous Reputation ... 17
Alcuin Revealed? ... 24
The Evidence of the Letters ... 35
Transmission of the Letters: the Beginnings ... 43
Salzburg Copies of the Letters ... 51
The ‘Basic Tours Collection’ of the Letters ... 57
Omissions from the ‘Basic Tours Collections’ ... 66
Manuscripts of the T Collection in England ... 68
An Anomalous Collection ... 71
A ‘Personal’ Collection of Letters? ... 75
The English Collections of the Letters ... 81
The Development of the Letter-Collections: the Evidence summarised ... 101
Author, Notaries and Copyists ... 103
Amicitia, and Sexual Orientation ... 110
The Possibility and Limitations of ‘Biography’ ... 117
Additional Note I ... 120
Additional Note II ... 122
Additional Note III ... 123

PART TWO
Chapter One Northumbrian Alcuin: Patria, Pueritia and
Adoliscentia ... 127
The Eight-Century Regnum northanhumbrorum ... 129
Northumbrian Society ... 135
Patres familias ... 146
York, a City Emerging ... 153
York and a Wider North ... 160
The York Infans ... 164
York Cathedral Community ... 165
The Liturgy as Schooling ... 176
“De Laude Dei” and the York Liturgy ... 193
Hymns ... 200
Mass-books ... 204
New Liturgical Commemorations ... 215
Calendar and Computers ... 217
‘Grammatica’: The Practice of Writing and Reading ... 220
Biblical Study ... 224
‘Vita quidem qualis fuit magistri?’: Bede and Egbert ... 227
Master and School ... 236
A New Regime and a Wider World ... 238
From York to Rome ... 242
York Consecrations, 767 ... 247

Chapter Two Northumbrian Alcuin: ‘Discit ut doceat’ ... 252
York books? ... 255
‘Veterum vestigìa patrum’ ... 260
From the Other Island? ... 274
Christian and Pre-Christian Poets ... 277
Grammarians and pre-Christian Prose Writers ... 282
Mastering ‘Computus’ ... 287
The Beginnings of Letter-Writing ... 293
Alcuin and the Vernacular ... 301
Teacher and Perpetual Deacon ... 304
‘Without the City Walls’ ... 309
A ‘Public’ Figure? ... 314
The Cathedral Community ... 326

Chapter Three Between Two Courts ... 331
To Rome for the Pallium ... 333
The Move to Francia ... 336
786: the Synodal Decrees ... 346
At the Frankish Court: Beginnings ... 356
Renovatio, Imitatio, Correctio ... 371
‘The English Connection’ ... 391
Northumbria: Promise Unfulfilled ... 395
Royal Counsellor ... 401
Return to Francia. The Sack of Lindisfarne ... 410
The Adviser at Frankfurt. Defender of Orthodoxy ... 419
Chapter Four Unsettled at Aachen ... 432
A Court Remembered in Verse ... 437
England ... 442
Court and Popes ... 445
At the Aachen Court. Last months ... 461

Index

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