Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green


  • Paul L. Butzer
  • Kerstin Springsfeld
  • Walter Oberschelp
Reference work entry

Alternate Names

 Alchvine;  Ealhwine;  Flaccus Albinus

Bornnear York, England, circa735

DiedTours, (Indre-et-Loire), France, 19 May 804

Alcuin, a universal scholar, educator, and key counselor of Charlemagne, is best known for his astronomical studies and observations, which led to the Carolingian reform of the calendar.

Of noble Anglo-Saxon lineage, Alcuin was educated at York’s cathedral school by students of the Venerable  Bede, as well as Colgu from Ireland. He taught at this school from 765 and became its head in 778. While acquiring books on the Continent, he met Charlemagne in Parma in 781. The Frankish king, having heard of Alcuin’s learning and teaching abilities, invited him to lead his Palace school at Aachen.

Moving to Francia in 782, Alcuin became the key counselor of Charlemagne for science, education, and church matters. He taught the King, his family, and the Frankish nobles, reforming the Palace school according to the Anglo-Saxon principle of the seven liberal arts....

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.



The authors are grateful to Karl W. Butzer (R.C. Dickson Centennial Professor, Austin, Texas) for his critical reading of the manuscript.

Selected References

  1. Alkuin (1974). “Epistolae”. In Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Epistolae 4, edited by Ernst Dümmler, pp. 18–481. Munich: Hahn.Google Scholar
  2. Propositiones ad acuendos iuvenes, edited and translated by Menso Folkerts and Helmuth Gericke. In Butzer and Lohrmann (1993), pp. 283–362.Google Scholar
  3. Borst, Arno “Alkuin und die Enzyklopädie von 809.” In Butzer and Lohrmann (1993), pp. 53–78.Google Scholar
  4. — (1998). “Die karolingische Kalenderreform.” Schriften der Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Vol. 46. Hannover.Google Scholar
  5. — (2006). “Schriften zur Komputistik im Frankenreich von 721 bis 818.” Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Quellen zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters, 3 Bände. Hannover.Google Scholar
  6. Butzer, Paul L. (1998). “Mathematics and Astronomy at the Court School of Charlemagne and its Mediterranean Roots.” Cahiers de Recherches médiévales (XIII-XVe s.) 5: 203–244.Google Scholar
  7. Butzer, Paul L. and Dietrich Lohrmann (eds.) (1993). Science in Western and Eastern Civilization in Carolingian Times. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag.MATHGoogle Scholar
  8. Eastwood, Bruce S. “The Astronomies of Pliny, Martianus Capella and Isidore of Sevilla in the Carolingian World.” In Butzer and Lohrmann (1993), pp. 162–180.Google Scholar
  9. Folkerts, Menso and Helmuth Gericke (eds.) “Die Alkuin zugeschriebenen Propositiones ad acuendos iuvenes.” In Butzer and Lohrmann (1993), pp. 273–281.Google Scholar
  10. Garrison, Mary Delafield (1995). “Alcuin’s World through His Letters and Verse.” Ph.D. diss., University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  11. Lohrmann, Dietrich “Alcuins Korrespondenz mit Karl dem Groβen über Kalender und Astronomie.” In Butzer and Lohrmann (1993), pp. 79–114.Google Scholar
  12. Migne, J. P. (1844–1855). Patrologia Latina. Vol. 101, cols. 981C-984B, 984B-993C, 993C-999C, 999C-1002C. Paris. (For Ratio de luna, De bissexto, De saltu lunae, and Calculatio Albini magistri.)Google Scholar
  13. Springsfeld, Kerstin (2002). Alkuins Einfluβ auf die Komputistik zur Zeit Karls des Groβen. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.Google Scholar
  14. Stevens, Wesley M. (1997). “Astronomy in Carolingian Schools.” In Charlemagne and His Heritage: 1200 Years of Civilization and Science in Europe, edited by Paul L. Butzer, Maximilian Kerner, and Walter Oberschelp. Vol. 1, pp. 417–487. Turnhout: Brepols.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul L. Butzer
    • 1
  • Kerstin Springsfeld
    • 2
  • Walter Oberschelp
    • 3
  1. 1.RWTH AachenAachenGermany
  2. 2.AachenGermany
  3. 3.RWTH Aachen, Lehrstuhl Informatik VIIAachenGermany