French    German    Spain    Italian    Arabic    Chinese Simplified    Russian

Western Civilisation

Until the advent of materialism and 19th c. dogma, Western Civilisation was  superior to anything Islam had developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Proof of this resides in the 'modern' world and the unending political-economic and spiritual poverty of Muslim states and regions.  Squatting on richer civilisations is not 'progress'.  Islam is pagan, totalitarian, and irrational.   

Back     Printer Friendly Version  

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Bookmark and Share

The Carolingian Renaissance or was it the Dark Ages?

No Carolingian Renaissance, no Civilisation.

by Ferdinand III


Charlemagne - Biography, Significance & Death - HISTORY


The Franks under Clovis in the early 6th century converted from paganism passing by Arianism which denied the divinity of Christ, to Catholicism.  In the 8th century the Church blessed the Frankish transfer of power from the Merovingian dynasty to that of Charles Martel or the ‘Carolingians’, who had saved Eurupe from Islamification with his victory at Tours in 732 A.D.  The Church enabled the peaceful transfer of power from the decrepit Merovingian house to that of Pepin the Short, Charlemagne’s father in 751 A.D. 


Under the influence of Church, the Carolingians would become the great builders of Christian civilisation.  Charlemagne (r. 758 – 814 AD) was probably the greatest ruler in medieval history.  The myth is that he could not write and was unlettered, but this undoubtedly a fiction.  A man of his standing and background would have been educated and literate.  Charlemagne expanded Frankish Christendom into Switzerland, Germany and northern Spain and protected the Church in Italy, from the predations of the pagan Lombards – the main reason why the papacy was keen to have a strong Christian state and ally in Francia, and why it agreed to the transfer of power from the Merovingians to the Carolingians.


Charlemagne invested what today would be billions of £ into education, schools, arts, literacy, the arts and social welfare projects.  It was a far reaching and transforming investment to both further Christianise and civilise Frankish society.  This ‘Renaissance’ extended through the reign of his son Louis the Pious (r. 814-840).  A central figure in the Charlemagnian Renaissance was the English monk Alcuin, educated at York by the Venerable Bede, the great saint and ecclesiastical historian.  In 781 Charlemagne appointed Alcuin to lead educational and other social reforms.  Alcuin was fluent in Latin a pre-requisite during the early medieval period for correspondence, and schooling.  In fact the oldest surviving copies of most ancient Roman literature are dated to this period and shortly after, when Carolingian scholars rescued them from oblivion.  Without this contribution most if not all of Roman literature would be lost.


Alcuin and the system he founded, was built on the Roman model of education and the 7 liberal arts.  There was the quartet of astronomy, music, arithmetic and geometry and the trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and logic.  This system provided the groundwork for everything that as followed in European education and university creation. 


The Carolingians invented the Carolingian script, an innovation in writing that had a major impact on European development.  This standardised script notation ended the confusing mixture of largely unintelligible or hard to decipher scripts across Europe.  The Carolingians added punctuation, lower- and upper-case letters, sentence and paragraph structures and spaces between words.  Without this innovation civilisation was unlikely to have developed as it did.  It leads directly to the printing press.


In building and art the Carolingians were very confident that their civilisation would greatly surpass that of Greece and Rome, and so eventually it did.  Beset by the Muslim, Viking and Avar invasions of the 8th and 9th centuries it is a wonder it not only survived but thrived.  Catholic monasteries were built and extended, manuscript copying proceeded at a fast pace, and thanks to a common script, all manner of scientific collaboration began between the monks sited far apart.  Schools were opened across the Frankish empire attached to a Church or monastery and for the first time in history the average person may have had the chance at some formal education. 


Christopher Dawson the great historian of Western culture relates,

“It was the great monasteries, especially those of Southern Germany, Saint Gall, Reichenau and Tegernesee, that were the only remaining islands of intellectual life amidst the returning flood of barbarism which once again threatened to submerge Western Christendom.  For, though monasticism seems at first sight ill-adapted to withstand the material destructiveness of an age of lawlessness and war, it was an institution which possessed extraordinary power.”


The monasteries could recover from and repair the devastation enacted by and in the secular world.  Pagans and barbarians would sack, reduce, arson and destroy 9 out of 10 monasteries, but it only one survived, it would be the seed to replant and regrow the other 9. 


These pagan barbarians sacked monasteries and Churches, destroying their books and libraries, their manufacturing and agriculture, their schools and hospices.  Yet the monasteries, the buildings, the libraries, the schools, the hospices and hospitals were rebuilt and often improved.  This preservation of civilisation as the horrific barbarian invasions from Muslims, Viking, Avars and Saxons to name but a few, which enveloped the Western world for 2 centuries is an unappreciated phenomenon.


The monks not only saved civilisation but produced one of the great Popes – Sylvester (r 999-1003).  He was the most learned man in Europe with a breadth of knowledge that included astronomy, science, Latin literature, mathematics, music, philosophy and theology.  Sylvester and the Church began to invest in astronomy and scientific investigation including naturalism. 


The development of physics and complex geometry flowed from this investment, culminating in the new physics of Nicholas Oresme and the school of Paris in the 14th century, about a century after the incorrect physics of Aristotle was decisively overthrown.  But few know this.  From Charlemagne to Sylvester is a direct line of civilised progress.  Today both men would be categorised as White supremacists, phobic, anti-science and racist. 

Article Comments:

Related Articles:

Catholic Legacy

4/14/2024:  The Cathedral School at Chartres

4/7/2024:  The Church and the rise of 'Science'

3/31/2024:  The Shroud of Turin and the physical appearance of Jesus Christ

3/24/2024:  The Scholastics and Rationalism

3/10/2024:  The Church and Medieval Universities

3/3/2024:  The Monks and the medieval industrial revolution

2/26/2024:  The Monks who built Western Civilisation

2/18/2024:  The Carolingian Renaissance or was it the Dark Ages?

2/14/2024:  The Catholic Church, a light in the darkness of pagan barbarism.

2/4/2024:  The Indispensable Catholic Church