Karolvs Magnvs Scriptor

  • Paul Edward Dutton
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Every so often we should roast an old chestnut, open it up, and see if something mushy and edible lies inside or if everything has turned hard and dry. And to my mind one of the hoariest nuts around is whether Charlemagne could write. Down the years the story of the illiteracy of Europe’s first great educational reformer has been repeated over and over again, accepted baldly by some, devoutly doubted by others.1 Students never quite know what to make of an emperor who ruled the vast expanse of nascent Europe, but could not reportedly master a simple skill they take for granted.2 Familiar though the issue of Charlemagne as a writer might be, there are matters here to ponder and questions to pursue.


Latin Text Private Realm Private Exercise Vatican City Simple Skill 
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  1. 1.
    Erich Weniger, “Das deutsche Bildungswesen in Fruhmittelalter,” Historische Vierteljahrschrift, 30 (1936): 486 [446–92] regarded it as a fairy tale that Charlemagne might have been illiterate, whereasGoogle Scholar
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© Paul Edward Dutton 2004

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