ALCUIN, irkwIn, or FLACCUS AL BINUS, an Englishman, renowned in his age for learning; the confidant, instructor and ad viser of Charlemagne. He was born probably in York in 735 and was educated under the care of Archbishop Egbert, and his successor /Elbert, with whom he went to the continent, and who afterward gave him the management of the school at York. Having gone to Rome to bring home the gallium (see PALLitim) for Eanbert, the successor of !Elbert, Charlemagne became acquainted with him in Parma on his return; invited him, in 782, to his court and made use of his services in his endeavors to civilize his subjects. In the royal academy he was called Flaccus Albinus. To secure the benefit of his instructions Charlemagne established at his court a school, called Schola Palatina, or the Palace School, and intrusted him with the su perintendence of several monasteries, in which Alcuin exerted himself to diffuse a knowledge of the sciences. Most of the schools in France were either founded or improved by him; thus he founded the school in the abbey of Saint Martin of Tours, in 796, after the plan of the school in York. He himself instructed a large
number of scholars in this school, who after ward spread the light of learning through the empire of the Franks. Alcuin took his leave of the court in 801 and retired to the abbey of Saint Martin of Tours, but kept up a constant corre spondence with Charles to the time of his death in 804. He left, besides many theological writ ings, several elementary works in the branches of philosophy, rhetoric and philology ; also poems and a large number of letters, the style of which, however, is not pleasing and plainly betrays the uncultivated character of the age; nevertheless he is acknowledged as the most learned and polished man of his time. He un derstood Latin, Greek and Hebrew. The best edition of his works is that published at Ratis bon (1777, 2 vols.). Consult Lorenz's 'Life of Alcuin' (translated into English, London 1837).