FURTHER SUBJECT 3: The Carolingian Renaissance
‘Carolingian Renaissance’ is a term of convenience used to describe the cultural, intellectual and religious awakening of Western Europe in the eighth century which in due course found its natural centre in the court school of Charlemagne and thence returned, in the ninth century and under fresh stimulus, to the churches and monasteries equipped to realize its implications. It thus gathers up what of Antiquity and Patristic learning had been preserved and hands it on, transmuted, to become the basis of European thinking about the aims of society till comparatively recent times. Its range is so great, and its implications so vast, that no set of prescribed texts could in practice cover it. Those that have been chosen (all in English or French translation) illustrate some of its principal themes and some of the ways in which those themes were modified in the course of a century’s experiment, as a result, first, of the directing force of Charlemagne and his advisers and, thereafter, of the widely differing interpretations placed on the royal programme by bishops, monks and others left to their own devices. The texts include a generous selection of the revealing correspondence of two scholars at the centre of affairs, Alcuin and Lupus of Ferrières; biography and narrative material; an educational manual; several Carolingian capitularies (the programmatic foundation of the Renaissance); some charters; a little theology and liturgical material; and a selection of poetry. Special attention is paid to the artistic and architectural aspects of the Renaissance.