A Greater Vision

on 08 November 2023

Charlemagne and Alcuin

Wisdom is the chief adornment, and this I urge you to seek above all things.

-Alcuin (c.735-804 AD)

Clovis I, the first king to unite all of the Franks under one monarch converted from his paganism to Christianity in the year 496 AD. But it would take nearly 300 more years before the Frankish kingdom truly began to be the kind of kingdom that exemplified a Christian realm. This kingdom continued to develop under Charlemagne and his knights called Paladins. While Charlemagne himself tried to rule his kingdom by the teachings of scripture, he knew that he needed help.

On a trip to Italy in 781 AD, Charlemagne met one of the most learned men in Europe- Alcuin, a monk from York. Charlemagne invited Alcuin to be his teacher, but also to set up a system of education for his sons and for the nobility of the Franks. Charlemagne believed anyone who was to govern the kingdom ought to have a thoroughly Christian education. Much of the education of nobility was practical in nature, but what Alcuin set out to do was emphasize an education to promote wisdom.

What we today call Classical Christian education is what Alcuin began at the Palatine Chapel in Aachen, now Germany. He envisioned the schools of Charlemagne’s court to be “a greater Athens with a greater Academy elevated above their ancient models by the Holy Spirit”. And so it was.

The decision to begin these schools throughout the Kingdom of the Franks and eventually throughout what came to be called the Holy Roman Empire helped to form Christendom in Europe and the West, from which we still benefit. As the West is losing its Christian moorings, we need only to be reminded it simply (!) takes a decision to drop the pagan and purely practical ways of learning and commit ourselves again to seek wisdom above all things. Guided by the Holy Spirit, rooted in God’s Word, following classical models, could not Northeastern Wisconsin become a greater Athens with a greater Academy influencing a new Christendom for the next thousand years?

A greater Academy with a renewed and better Christendom is the End for which the Palatine Institute was founded. Joyeuse, the name of Charlemagne’s Sword is the name of our blog. It means “joyous” in Old French and it seems appropriate for our task. We wish to joyously build and defend Christ’s Kingdom!

This article was written by: Ron Jung

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