The Carolingian Renaissance / The Spread of Christianity in England

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The Carolingian Renaissance

A period of cultural activity in the Carolingian Empire is known to be as the Carolingian Renaissance. Its aim was to restore a civilization of which ancient Rome would have been proud, but with a Christian emphasis as well. There was an increase in literature, writing, architecture, art, jurisprudence, liturgical reforms, and scriptural studies. The government would have to carry out tasks, for which emperors had been responsible.

Most of this renaissance occurred during the reign of Charlemagne, a Carolingian King. Charlemagne would seek out great artists, builders, and writers in the cities he would visit. Within them, he found Alcuin of York, who would then become the key adviser of Charlemagne. After eight years of serving at the palace school (court school), he then became abbot of tours, where he got monks to make more accurate translations of the Vulgate, the Latin Fathers, and the Latin classics.

Charlemagne built many cathedral schools, where both the clergy and the laity could learn reading and writing. He would then import teachers from Ireland, Britain, and Italy, where many of those cathedral schools would then develop into early European universities. Even apart from preserving original work, the Carolingian minuscule was first originated, where it would become a lot easier to communicate across most of Europe.

John Contreni studies, “It had a spectacular effect on education and culture in Francia, a debatable effect on artistic endeavors, and an unmeasurable effect on what mattered most to the Carolingians, the moral regeneration of society.”

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The Spread of Christianity in England

England had not yet heard about Christianity (Catholic version), until a Pope named Gregory the Great decided to evangelize in that area. St. Augustine of Canterbury supported Gregory, and was sent by the Pope to England and evangelize. Eventually, Augustine spoke to King Ethelbert, and not only was he converted, but he allowed the spreading of the message.

However, there were still some problems. There were rivalries between different kingdoms. Some became Christians and others were pagan. There was also confusion about what Christian view to adopt, the Romans or the Irish’s.

Until finally, in the year 664 in a meeting called the Synod of Whitby, the king decided to follow the Roman style of Catholicism. Also, the Anglo-Saxons finally converted to Catholicism, and paganism would slowly deteriorate.

The spreading of Christianity in England was tougher than when it was spread in Ireland and present day Germany, but was accomplished by the monks from Rome and Ireland, and the Pope.

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