Douglas Dales provides a comprehensive study of the life of one of the most underrated figures of the early medieval Western Church. Alcuin left behind him a varied selection of correspondence and other documents which attest to his prominence as a statesman, theologian, poet, friend, and teacher. In this, the first study to fully examine the full span of Alcuin's life and the lasting effect of his actions, the author deftly weaves together the primary manuscript evidence to record Alcuin's transition from a precocious schoolboy of noble lineage in York to his involvement with Charlemagne, Offa, and the papacy in Rome.
Alcuin was a conscious heir to the rich traditions of the English Church, and his skill as a poet of prayer, as well as an educator, marks him out as a seminal influence upon his own generation and those that came after him. This book examines his life and career in England and on the continent, and considers his legacy as a churchman and a leading political figure. While Dales places Alcuin firmly within his Christian cultural inheritance and historical context, he also traces from the surviving evidence the subtle and nuanced elements of Alcuin's personality and relationships.