Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/571

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the study of the Greek Fathers. Ireland sent forth not a few of the scholars and missionaries whose names shine most clearly through the gloom of those centuries; St Columba (d. 597), who made lona a centre of light for northern Britain; St Columbanus (d. 615), a founder and reformer of monastic houses in Europe; Clement, who succeeded Alcuin (c. 798) as head of the school at Aachen; and John Scotus Erigena (d. c. 875), whose acquirements included some knowledge of Greek, and whose independence as a philosophical thinker renders him the most interesting intellectual figure of the ninth century. England also, from 600 to 800, was probably less dark than the Continent. Augustine, a Benedictine, and his Roman fellow-missionaries, came in 597, bringing with them the Latin language and Latin books. In 668 the Greek Theodore became seventh Archbishop of Canterbury. He was zealous for the promotion of learning, and certainly introduced some knowledge of Greek among his clergy, though the measure and duration of that knowledge are uncertain. Baeda (d. 735), the ascetic monk of Jarrow, was the comprehensive interpreter of all the literature, theological, historical, and educational, which had come into England with Christianity. Alcuin (d. 804), trained in the famous monastery of York, where he afterwards presided over the school, won repute as a theologian, and more especially as a grammarian. He does not seem to have been a man of originality or force, and he inherited the narrow view which was adverse to pagan lore; but, under the auspices of Charles the Great, he did a large work for education.

The reign of that monarch (768-814) saw the first large and systematic effort towards a restoration of letters. The motives which actuated the new Emperor of the West were primarily political and social. He felt that it was of vital moment for his realm to mitigate the mischief and reproach of illiteracy. In 782 he induced Alcuin to leave York and take up his abode at Aachen, as the head of a school in connexion with the Court. With AlcuhVs advice and aid, he did his best to stimulate and improve the only educational agencies which existed,—those of the episcopal and monastic schools. Bishops were encouraged to provide elementary instruction for the children of the laity. The Capitulary of 789 directs the more important monasteries to establish higher schools in addition to the ordinary schools provided by religious houses. Not a few of these higher schools became distinguished. Foremost among them was that of the Abbey of Fulda. Others belonged to the Abbeys of Tours, Reims, St Gall, and Corvey. Throughout the ninth century such schools rendered good service to learning. Rabanus Maurus, Abbot of Fulda (d. 856), who was free from any blind prejudice against the classics, did much to liberalise monastic studies. His pupil, Lupus Servatus, had a wide range of reading in good Latin authors, and studied them with a zeal not unworthy of the Renaissance. Many of these monastic schools perished