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Alcuin of York

d.804. Medieval Christian scholar. Educated at the cathedral school of York where his teacher had been a pupil of Bede, Alcuin was the most important and influential of the scholars invited to Charlemagne's* court (782) where his teaching and writing provided the basis on which later Carolingian writers were to build. A prolific author, he wrote commentaries on the Bible, dogmatic treatises, and controversial manuscripts. After his work at the palace school he became abbot of the monastery of St. Martin of Tours, where in addition to his writing he added many volumes to the library and supervised the monastic school. At Tours, Alcuin labored to raise the intellectual level of the monks. One of the results of his work was the development of the style of handwriting called Caroline minuscule. This system, which used both small and capital letters, was easier to read than the earlier Merovingian cursive or the Italian hand and it has influenced the printing of books today through roman type. Alcuin also led a group of scholars in the revision of the Vulgate* text of the Bible. These men collated the oldest manuscripts, correcting many errors and discrepancies in the text. Although a uniform text was not attained, it halted further scribal corruptions.

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