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The young Rabanus Maurus (left), supported by his teacher Alkuin, the abbot of St. Martin's monastery in Tours (center), presents his work De laudibus sanctae crucis to Saint Martin , Archbishop of Tours, (right) . Representation in a manuscript from Fulda around 830/40 (Vienna, ÖNB cod. 652, fol.2v)
Alcuin as the roof figure of the Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna

Alkuin ( Anglo-Saxon Ealhwine , also Alhwin , Alchoin , inscribed ALCHVVINVS , Latinized Albinus with surname Flaccus ; *  735 near York in Northumbria ; † May 19, 804 in Tours ?) Was an early medieval scholar and the most important advisor to Charlemagne .


Alkuin was the son of a noble family and grew up in Yorkshire . He was a student of the cathedral school in York, which is recognized far beyond the British Isles, and later its director. At this he taught, among others, the holy Liudger , the "Apostle of the Frisians". In 781 he met Charlemagne in Parma and accepted his invitation to come to him at the court school in Aachen , an institution of the so-called court orchestra , which he took over as director from 782 , thereby exerting great influence on the elite of the Franconian Empire.

In this role, Alkuin, who was considered the greatest scholar of his time, became the most influential advisor to Charlemagne in matters of state and church, even though he was not always able to assert his ideas. So he turned in vain against the use of force in the missionary work of the Saxons . In contrast to Karl's biographer Einhard , for example , Alkuin developed the concept of a sacred kingship or empire (Karl as the new King David or Constantine the Great ) and saw in Karl the defender of the church and ruler over a Christian universal empire . Between 789 and 793 he traveled to England several times .

On the question of the picture dispute he seems to have taken a moderate position, as can also be observed with his pupil Rabanus Maurus , who with his series of figure poems De laudibus sanctae crucis took a position for pictures as a medium of revelation and preaching. Due to Visigoth orthography and the influence of Mozarabic liturgy as well as the absence of Alcuins during the time of his creation , the more recent research no longer regards him as the author of the image-critical Libri Carolini , but rather Theodulf von Orléans from Spain .

As an opponent of adoptianism , he contributed significantly to the fact that this doctrine was condemned as heresy at the synods of Frankfurt (794) and Aachen (799) . In the year 796 he left the court and was, even though he no priest was, but merely a deacon , from Charlemagne to Abbot of de Saint-Martin Tours appointed, possibly to him because of his outspoken criticism of the approach of Charles in the Saxon Wars from Remove yard.


Alkuin was an important mediator of the Latin education saved in England and Ireland through the time of the Great Migration to the Frankish Empire , which he imparted as a teacher to numerous students, including Hrabanus Maurus and Charlemagne himself. He is considered to be one of the founders of the Carolingian Renaissance and is jointly responsible for the spread of the Carolingian minuscule , a font made up of lowercase letters that was in use from the late 8th to the 12th centuries and, due to its revival by the humanists, as a model for the Lowercase letters used today apply.

His work was characterized by extensive achievements in all areas of early medieval science. In addition to theological treatises, among which he himself considered the three books on the Trinity ( De fide sanctae et individuae Trinitatis ) as his main work and which, according to Albert Hauck, can be regarded as the beginning of medieval theology , numerous other of his works have been preserved, including 311 letters reflecting the spectrum of his diverse relationships as a scholar and advisor to the royal family, courtiers, spiritual leaders and communities. The oldest collection of mathematical problems in Latin, the Propositiones ad acuendos iuvenes , is attributed to Alcuin. One of their solutions is the Alkuin sequence named after him .

Poems - including a letter to Charlemagne and the Aachen court society -, sermons, historiographical, biographical, theological works and treatises on rhetoric , dialectics and astronomy are also preserved . The treatise Musica Albini could meanwhile also be assigned to Alkuin and can be understood in the context of a Carolingian tone that was created in Aachen at the same time . The revision of the Vulgate , begun by Alkuin, is likely to have had the greatest contemporary broad impact . At his suggestion, the so-called Alcuin Bibles , Bible pandects with the revised Vulgate text and elaborate illumination (book illumination) were created in his monastery Saint-Martin de Tours . De fide sanctae et individuae Trinitatis had a political dimension, in that it gave the emperor not only a secular but also a church teaching authority.

A memorial plaque dedicated to him was placed in the Walhalla near Regensburg .

Remembrance day


  • MS-C-91 - Liber de divinis officiis . Benedictine Abbey (?), St. Gallen, 1025 digitized


  • Alcuin. Vita sancti Willibrordi. The life of St. Willibrord. Latin / German. Edited, translated and commented by Paul Dräger . Kliomedia, Trier 2008, ISBN 978-3-89890-127-7 .
  • Sven Günther , Michael Pahlke (eds.): Alkuin. Propositiones ad acuendos iuvenes / tasks to sharpen the spirit of the youth. Lindauer-Verlag, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-87488-222-4 ( Lindauer's Latin readings ).
  • Christiane Veyrard-Cosme: The oeuvre hagiographique en prose d'Alcuin. Vitae Willibrordi, Vedasti, Richarii. Édition, traduction, études narratologiques. Edizioni del Galluzzo, Florence 2003, ISBN 88-8450-062-1 ( Per verba 21).


  • Arnold Angenendt : The early Middle Ages. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 2001, ISBN 3-17-017225-5 .
  • Walter Berschin : biography and epoch style in the Latin Middle Ages. Volume 3: Carolingian biography. 750–920 AD. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-7772-9102-1 , pp. 113–146, 149–175 ( sources and studies on the Latin philology of the Middle Ages 10).
  • Donald A. Bullough: Alcuin. Achievement and reputation. Being part of the Ford lectures delivered in Oxford in Hilary Term 1980. Brill, Leiden et al. 2004, ISBN 90-04-12865-4 ( Education and society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance 16).
  • Marta Cristiani: Le vocabulaire de l'enseignement dans la corespondance d'Alcuin , in: Olga Weijers (ed.), Vocabulaire des écoles et des méthodes d'enseignement au Moyen Âge . Actes du colloque, Rome 21-22 octobre 1989 (= CIVICEMA. Études sur le vocabulaire intellectuel du Moyen Âge 6). Brepols, Turnhout 1992, pp. 13-32.
  • Philippe Depreux (Ed.): Alcuin, de York à Tours. Écriture, pouvoir et réseaux dans l'Europe du haut Moyen Âge (= Annales de Bretagne et des Pays de l'Ouest 111, 3). Presses Universitaires de Rennes, Rennes 2004, ISBN 2-7535-0053-3 .
  • Wolfgang Edelstein : Eruditio and Sapientia. Worldview and education in the Carolingian era. Investigations into Alcuin's letters. Rombach, Freiburg 1965.
  • Peter Godman (Ed.): Alcuin, the Bishops, Kings and Saints of York. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1982 ( Oxford medieval texts ).
  • Elizabeth Hartley (Eds.): Alcuin & Charlemagne. The golden age of York . The Yorkshire Museum, York 2001, ISBN 0-905807-18-9 .
  • Kerstin Springsfeld: Charlemagne, Alcuin and the calculation of time. In: Reports on the history of science . 27, 2004, ISSN  0170-6233 , pp. 53-66.
  • Ernst Tremp, Karl Schmuki, Theres Flury: Karl der Grosse and his scholars. On the 1200th anniversary of Alcuin's death († 804). Verlag am Klosterhof, St. Gallen 2004, ISBN 3-906616-65-7 (exhibition catalog. St. Gallen, Abbey Library, December 22, 2003 - November 14, 2004).
  • E. DümmlerAlkuin . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 1, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1875, pp. 343-348.
  • Heinz LöweAlkuin. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 1, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1953, ISBN 3-428-00182-6 , p. 201 ( digitized version ).

Web links

Commons : Alcuin  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Alcuinus  - Sources and full texts (Latin)


  1. ^ Altfrid : Vitae sancti Liudgeri
  2. ^ Problems to Sharpen the Young , John Hadley and David Singmaster, The Mathematical Gazette , 76 , # 475 (March 1992), pp. 102-126.
  3. Eric W. Weisstein : Alcuin's Sequence . In: MathWorld (English).
  4. ^ Hermann Schefers: "Iste est laudabilis ordo". A contribution to the importance of medicine at the court of Charlemagne and to the problem of the Carolingian "court school". In: Würzburger medical history reports , Volume 11, 1993, pp. 175–203, especially pp. 179–187 ( Alkuins letter poem to Charlemagne from 796 ).
  5. Hartmut Möller, On the question of the music-historical significance of the "academia" at the court of Charlemagne: The Musica Albini. In: Wolf Frobenius; Nicole Schwindt-Gross, Thomas Sick (Eds.), Academy and Music. Appearances and effects of the academy concept in the history of culture and music: institutions, events, publications. Festschrift for Werner Braun on his 65th birthday, at the same time a report on the symposium, Saarbrücken 1993, pp. 269–288.
  6. ^ Alcuin in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints.