Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Carolingian Renaissance

  • John Marenbon
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1151-5_115-2


The Carolingian Renaissance was a cultural revival inspired by Charlemagne who, during his long reign (768–814), extended the Frankish kingdom to include most of present-day France and Germany as well as parts of Spain and Italy. In this entry, it is taken to cover philosophy of the period c. 780–c. 900, except for the work of the best known philosopher of the time, John Scottus Eriugena, who is treated in separately. After a section discussing the cultural background (see “The Carolingian Renaissance and Carolingian Philosophy”), the two philosophers at Charlemagne’s court, Alcuin and Theodulf of Orleans, are considered (see “The Founders: Theodulf of Orleans and Alcuin”), and then Alcuin’s circle of pupils is examined (see “The Circle of Alcuin”). The next two sections look at two of the disputes (on predestination (see “Gottschalk and the Debate on Predestination”), and on the world-soul (see “Ratramnus of Corbie, the Soul, and Universals”) – but really on universals), which encouraged some of the liveliest ninth-century philosophizing. Central to philosophy in the early Middle Ages were the gloss traditions on important school texts: these are examined in “Ninth-Century Glosses to School Texts.” The “Concluding Remarks” emphasize that this whole area is in need of more research and that a synthesis such as that offered here is premature.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trinity CollegeUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK