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When did Alcuin first meet Charlemagne?[edit]

The article first mentions Alcuin meeting Charlemagne on his return from Rome but says "On his way home he again met Charlemagne, this time in the Italian city of Parma" Does this mean an earlier meeting has been omitted, if so when and where? Dionea (talk) 00:40, 28 January 2013 (UTC)


This article does not mentions Alcuin's birthname. I believe it was Ealhwine (or something of the like), but can anybody confirm that? Oswax 18:02, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

It was a redirect. Added it to the opening. Variant. --Wetman 21:11, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

Regarding Lindisfarne: The viking attack was in June, not July, and in the year 793, not 792. The bishop's name is Higbald, see link: Higbald_of_Lindisfarne. Best regards, Per-Allan Olsson -- (talk) 15:13, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Dialogue of Pepin (son of Charlemagne) and Alcuin,[edit]

Pepin the Hunchback was Charlemagne's first son. He got his nickname from a spinal deformity causing his back to be hunched. In 792 he was found guilty in a conspiracy to overthrow his father's rule by participating in a coup attempt. He was sentenced to a head shaving and having to spend the rest of life (d.811) in a monastery. The others involved were all sentenced to death.

The latin title is Disputatio Pipini, though the ascription to Alcuin in in dispute, and is now generally held to be erroneous. I wonder if the section on the Disputatio should go altogether, in fact, as nobody now seriously considers it to be Alcuin's? Cursitor 16:50, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Where, and by whom, has Alcuin's authorship been contested? As recently as 2002, it was generally accepted (e.g. by Guy Halsall in his Humour, History, and Politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, who devoted an entire chapter to the text)...SGilsdorf (talk) 16:10, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Homosexual love poetry[edit]

Someone added several paragraphs arguing that Alcuin was homosexual, citing a poem of his as evidence. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble finding any other material supporting this elsewhere, and the poem does not actually suggest any relationship with the addressee. I added an 'unreferenced' tag hoping that someone would cite some source(s) for this hypothesis, but none have been forthcoming one week later. I feel the section in question should go, as it appears to be unverifiable and potentially original research. Alcuin 15:48, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Either way, that section is disproportionately lengthy in relation to the rest of the article, and should probably be cut. Cursitor 16:49, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

In the interests of intellectual honesty, after this entire section was flagged then suppressed, I googled "Alcuin homoerotic" and found a reference at the respected Medieval Sources webnsite, and added a quote from John Boswell. The instinct to suppress unattractive material often leads to disreputable conduct. The rest of this article lacks the depth this subject requires. With a less flimsy, more extensive context, the homosexuality will become less prominent. --Wetman 21:30, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm the one who deleted it - I've got nothing against adding material that is well-sourced. I started trying to just edit out or tag the unsourced material, but then realized the whole section had been tagged for months without anyone working on it, and assumed there was just a lack of interest. There is still a tag for a quote that needs a cite, and I hope someone will track that down (because it should be deleted otherwise). I agree that any disparity between space devoted to the topic and the subject as a whole is the result of the article as a whole being woefully inadequate -- this could be a major article. Sam 21:59, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

I have added a sentence covering homo-erotic poetry - this isn't original research but is covered in mainstream academic literature (have added a couple of references). I'm not sure there is more direct evidence (from contemporary sources) that can be added to support the thesis of Alcuin's homosexuality. Passionate letter-writing and poetry was common in the high middle ages, but Boswell (among others) have suggested that the tone in Alcuin is even more enthusaistic than standard practice. Contaldo80 (talk) 12:43, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

Homoerotic works by Alcuin:

A letter from Alcuin to Dodo (AKA Cuckoo), a pupil.

To my dearest son, whom I have both lately begotten and swiftly lost, since he has been snatched not yet well suckled from my breasts. A crueller stepdame, the flesh, has snatched him through the vortices of lust from my paternal lap. Alas, what shall I do, but weep my dying one, in the chance that perhaps by the fomentations of scalding tears he may yet be resurrected. As your name asks, I give; but give to me: All of myself I give you, give thus to me.

Alcuin is deeply saddened by Cuckoo's departure:

Woe to me, if Bacchus has drowned my cuckoo, Who loves to snatch young men in his poisonous gyre. If he lives, let him return, run back to the fostering nest, Let not the raven slash him with savage claw. Alas, who seizes you from the nest paternal? He has seized you, seized you. Who knows if you will come? If songs can move you, cuckoo, lo, come quickly, Come quickly, now I pray you, lo, come quickly. Do not delay, while you have strength to hasten, Your youthful Daphnis wishes to have you here. It is time for spring, cuckoo, break your slumber,

"Versus de Cuculo" is replete with similar works from Alcuin. Furthermore, have a look at the fordham medieval site I think it is clear that Alcuin was in fact a homosexual based on his writings, even when considering the medieval style. It is important to know as much as possible about this great scribe's personal life.

There is nothing in these snippets to indicate anything about Alcuin having more than a combination of fatherly love to his students and love for Roman poetry and idiom. The source cited - by a highly suspect source: Paul Halsall who is a gay activist and was arrested for selling cocaine ( a different article from fordham seriously criticizes Boswell's "studies" Having read Alcuin's Opera Omnia in Latin myself I have not seen any indication of homosexuality. One must be extremely wary of attempts at historical activism and revisionism made on the basis of fashionable ideology. If one wants to make a serious case for any person being a homosexual (or anything else), it should be done based on more than just desperately attempting to read between the lines of old Latin poetryDamascus road (talk) 21:34, 30 June 2013 (UTC).

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:55, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Pepin, Charlemagne's son[edit]

Charlemagne did have a son named Pepin by a concubine named Himiltrude. He conspired with certain Frankish nobles to depose his father during his war with the Huns. Apparently the plot was uncovered and as punishment he was forced into the monastery at Prüm to live out his life as a holy man. He was also hunchbacked. This is all according to Einhard.

Cupbearer 03:44, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Quite true. Pepin is real enough, but the attribution of the Disputatio Pipini to Alcuin is very questionable.

--Cursitor 12:32, 5 December 2006 (UTC)


I've never come across this before, and the quotation from Berlinski seems somewhat vague. Does anyone have a primary source for this? --Cursitor 12:34, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

According to the Penguin translation by Lewis Thorpe, 'Two Lives of Charlemagne', p. 79, Charlemagne’s friend and biographer, Einhard, tells us that, ‘When he was learning the rules of grammar he received tuition from Peter the Deacon of Pisa… but for all other subjects he was taught by Alcuin… the most learned man anywhere to be found. Under him the Emperor spent much time and effort in studying rhetoric, dialectic and especially astrology. He applied himself to mathematics and traced the course of the stars with great attention and care.’But Jim Tester, A History of Western Astrology, 1987, p 130 gives ‘astronomia’ and ‘computus’ for Thorpe's ‘astrology’ and ‘mathematics’, translating the passage as follows: Charlemagne ‘gave much time and labour to learning rhetoric and dialaectic, and especially astronomy (astronomia); and tried to learn the art of computus and with great curiosity and concentration sought to understand the course of the stars.’ I imagine Tester is the better source. (talk) 19:49, 24 March 2009 (UTC) Paul Bembridge

Overall, I concur that the latter translation is preferable. The practice of computus (in essence, the calculation of the dates of moveable feasts, principally Easter) and the practice of astronomy are intrinsically linked, the former being based upon a lunar calendar. The article's current suggestion that Alcuin's astrological practice was influenced by 'suppressed' travels to the middle east is, techincally speaking, piffle. Gone. Cursitor (talk) 13:58, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Alcuin Society[edit]

The Alcuin Society, included under external links, apparently has nothing to do with Alcuin except the name. The Society caters to book lovers, not (for example) lovers of Carolingian literature. I believe it detracts from, rather than adding to, the entry. Does anyone else agree, or disagree? Katherine Tredwell 18:58, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I had actually just had that thought myself before coming to this talkpage. Seeing that the same objection was raised two and a half years ago and no one has responded, I'm going to go ahead and remove the mention. Binabik80 (talk) 21:46, 16 July 2009 (UTC)


It is alleged in the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" (p. 76) that Alcuin created a system of "positure" or punctuation, including an early question mark. -- Beland 02:37, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Alcuin and the filioque[edit]

I've removed the entire section on the "Filioque" from the article. In the first place, it appears to be referencing mostly Spanish Adoptionism, not the Filioque (despite the lines about the "Symbol"). In the second place, I am not sure that it is correctly translated, and in the third place it looks like OR. ECKnibbs 20:13, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Class change[edit]

2008 Frickeg - I notice you've downgraded the article from class B to class C. This might be right; but could you perhaps explain why you thought the article needed this re-grading please? Contaldo80 (talk) 16:42, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

Homo eroticism[edit]

I've improved the section on homo-eroticism. Can I say though that deleting text and then calling John Boswell a "charlatan" is lazy editing. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:45, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

I appreciate the fact that you moved the text around and added refutations. I edited the section slightly. I am new to editing on wikipedia. I am merely a person who has read Alcuin and was surprised to see that suddenly a single person who has been thoroughly refuted on many of his "studies" is using Alcuin as a "poster-child" for homosexuality. I called Boswell as "charlatan" because that is precisely what he is, given that he has been so often thoroughly refuted. Militantism has no place on wikipedia, even though I understand that many people would attempt it. This latest change of mine removes the provocative title. Since the passage itself claims clearly that this is debated, and that Alcuin had close relationships with the women of the court as well, there is no need for a title that says anything more than simply "personal relationships". Finally, I have to ask you to please refrain for militantism for your cause. Wikipedia entries must be as objective as possible. Damascus road (talk) 13:15, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

John Boswell was professor at Yale University. When you reach a comparable position then I think you'd be better placed to call him a "charlatan". Your edits strike me as homophobic in tone: "a poster boy for homosexuality" and "militantism". What does that mean?! If you've got an axe to grind then go grind it somewhere else. Stick to the facts. The text as it is has proper references and uses them in a balanced way. Boswell was not the only individual to consider the issue; nor should his arguments be dismissed out of hand as biased. If you think anyone who shows an interest in the history of homosexuality is a 'militant' then really it says something quite sad about your world view. Lazy editing. Contaldo80 (talk) 15:04, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

There are many "scholars" in our day who are charlatans and ideologically driven. I reiterate that Boswell is a charlatan based on his writings and "work" which are all that count - not his position at Yale. Now I am not "homophobic". I am a theologian, and as I explained, I have studied Alcuin and am amazed to see that he has been cast into this kind of debate. If you look through the history of my edits (which is very short, since I am not an activist), you will find no "homophobia" or editing of articles about homosexuality. You, however, claim on your page that you are "particularly interested in helping support coverage of gay-related issues on wikipedia" - which is why I claim you are a "militant". This is a fact - you are here for ideological reasons. If anyone has to stick to the facts, and refrain from propaganda, it is you. I ask you again to refrain from this and remain objective. If you have a better objective title for the section than "personal relationships" go ahead and propose it.Damascus road (talk) 19:11, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Ah a "theolgian" that explains it. I'm a historian and we deal with facts and real events, not imaginary super-beings. If you think an "interest in LGBT issues" is evidence of militantism then it clearly reflect your own prejudices. You have broken the rule of "assuming good faith" and accused me of bias. Well if we're going to go down that infantile route then I would suggest it is rather you that are pushing a militant religious point of view. Call Boswell what you like. My personal view is that most clergy and theolgians are charlatans, but I don't let that temper inclusion of material if it is properly referenced and objective. The sources as quoted in the text have been used correctly. End of. If you want to include more examples of Alcuin's inflammatory anti-gay hate rhetoric, however, then please go ahead. Such writings/ sermons are the facts and I will not have the facts censored.Contaldo80 (talk) 09:21, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

You are no "historian". You are an activist as your own profile maintains (also, clearly, an "atheist" activist. No surprise). Your words are not mere "interest in LGBT issues". If anyone follows your edits, it is plain to see that you are a propagandist and far from objective. I accuse you of bias since your edits are biased. This is a fact. Now, What I added was a quote from Alcuin's own words. Both in Latin and in English translation - with references. There are also references to scholar's who refute Boswell. The passage title you suggest had literally nothing to do with the issue at hand. The fact of the matter is that there is ZERO support for Alcuin being homo-anything and he himself was adamant that homosexuality is a more serious sin than other sexual sins - these are his words, I did not make this up, and I provided references for them. I ask you again to refrain from propaganda. Damascus road (talk) 17:44, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

Your proposed changes to the article violate several of our policies, especially WP:NOR, WP:NPOV and WP:RS. Furthermore, your behavior on this talkpage violates WP:NPA, WP:AGF and WP:CIVILITY. Please read these policies and adhere to them.
If you wish to change something in the article, it's best to propose the concrete change here, supported with reliable independent secondary sources and conforming with WP policy. Re,main civil and polite. Rants and accusations will not advance your case. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 18:05, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

I do not see how my changes violate any of these policies. I added Alcuin's own words from J.-P. Migne's Opera Omnia, properly referenced. After all, this is an article about Alcuin and if the issue of homosexuality is to be debated regarding Alcuin, his own words should be heard. I have not expressed any personal view points, nor made any personal research. All I did was quote from Alcuin himself in a resource that is highly regarded and easily verifiable by anyone. As I have said to you on my talk page, the fact that you are not making these same accusations to Contaldo80 whose claim of "imaginary super-beings" cannot be considered civil or appropriate, nor blaming him/her of "warring" seems to suggest that you are acting out of bias. I hope this is not the case.Damascus road (talk) 18:26, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

I have tried to be polite and civil, but really your contributions are infantile. Not only have you accused me of bias, activism and propaganda - based on nothing, I might add. You've also labelled me an "atheist" - as if that is relevant or a term of abuse. How desperately sad. Thos big, bad atheists eh. Worse than those 'homosexual activists' perhaps. Firstly can I point out that I am a historian, I have two degrees (undergraduate and postgraduate in history). If we're going to descend to personal abuse then perhaps I can put my own thoughts on record that theology is not a proper academic discipline, anymore than homeopathy is. That aside. You have not read the sources that you keep trying to over-turn have you? David Clark, "Between Medieval Men" makes the following statements: "Passages in some of Alcuin's writings display homosocial desire, even homoerotic imagery"; "This is evident in both Alcuin's poems and some of his letters"; and "Historians such as John Boswell have cited this as outpouring of homosexual desire." So rather than accusing me of making this up and a blind pursuit of activism I have simply referenced good, objective, mainstream sources. Incidentally Clark doesn't come down one side or another on Alcuin's possible homosexuality. On the issue of quoting Alcuin's own words as I said before I'm very happy to - if you don't think this is the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. What I think odd, however, is having a vast chunk of text in latin. Does having the latin really add anything? Contaldo80 (talk) 09:34, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

I am going to ignore your continued attempts at insult and bizzare argumentum ad auctoritatem, and deal with the facts. I have labeled the section in question "Modern debate" since this is precisely what it is. To put it simply: some people see homosexuality in any expression of affection between men and others express the opposite view. We have both POV in this section. The important addition is Alcuin's own words. The Latin is important lest anyone claim that it has not been accurately translated or understood. I think that the section, as it now stands, reflects both sides of the debate and provides the proper, objective and referenced spot for Alcuin's own words. After all, this is his page. Damascus road (talk) 18:02, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

I'll make the point again. On the first issue - the first couple of opening sentences I used in my original addition were taken from a good referenced source - Clark - and set the context. You have failed to make an convincing argument why they should not be included. Unless you can then they will be restored. In fact you are being disengenious and introducing considerable bias. You have drafted the section so that it deliberately suggests that no-one but John Boswell has raised the issue of homosexuality or homoeroticism in relation to Alcuin, and Boswell should thus be ignored as he is gay (and presumably biased); and instead no-one should be in any doubt that all prominent Chistian figures have condemned homosexality since the foundation of the church. But of course that is not true, several scholars have identified a strand of intense eroticism in the poems and letters of Alcuin, and the debate is about whether it reflects amicizia or is something more. On the second issue of naming the section: this is less important but "modern debate" strikes me as a meaningless description, intended simply to avoid any embarassing conclusions to be made. I'm sure readers expect more maturity. Thirdly on the inclusion of Alcuin's own words. I still fail to see what Alcuin's words add that the preceding summary about 'harsher punishment' does not? There does seem an element of tautology to it. But if you think readers need to have the message hammered home then please go ahead and bludgeon them. The latin remains odd, however. You admit you are new to WP and so I have to share my experience that it is very unusual to include huge chunks of foreign language text in an english language article (particularly if an english translation is also included). Incidentally I have no idea what you mean by "some people see homosexuality in any expression of affection between men and others express the opposite view"?! But as this discussion is off-topic then I guess I never will get to understand your curious and quaint reasonings on such a subject.Contaldo80 (talk) 08:02, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
In fact the more I research this, the more references I find which examine the eroticism of Alcuin’s poems and letters in great detail. Lynda L Coon in “Dark bodies: gender and monastic practice in the early medieval west” (University of Pennsylvania, 2011) writes: “the poem Alcuin address to hi student Arn of Salzburg conveys the erotic subculture of the Carolingian monastic school. Alcuin writes that his love for Arn has penetrated his heart. Nothing, not even the alps, will hinder him from ‘always licking at [arn’s] innards. He expresses his desire to kiss arn on the eyes, ears and mouth, on the hands and feet digit by digit”. Coon thinks this partly looks to the Song of Songs and partly to a “queer space” where “erotic attachment and affections may be safely articulated”. The use of tongue (lingo) in classical terms (of which Alcuin would have been aware) relates to oral sex. “He comes perilously close to communicating openly his same sex desires”. And so on and so on. Then we have Stephen Jaegar who writes in “Enobling love: in search of a lost sensibility” (University of Pennsylvania, 1999): “Out and out startling is the ongoing mixture of erotic and religious love”, and “Alcuin eroticizes his personal relationships to his beloved friends.” If you are determined to continue to push your religious POV then please could I ask that you take yourself elsewhere. This is an interesting and important subject and trying to sweep it all under the carpet in an attempt to tackle “gay activism” is supremely misjudged.

What does this mean, if anything?[edit]

There are two unsourced statements in the "Carolingian figure and legacy" section that appear so vague as to have little value. First: "Alcuin's friendships also extended to the ladies of the court, especially the queen mother and the king's daughters, though his relationships with these women never reached the intense level of those of the men around him." The fact that this appears under "Use of eroticised language" rather than the discussion of "Charlemagne" and his court, appears to imply that he preferred men. However, it could also be an exercise of prudence. Any man showing an "intense level" of friendship to any king's female relatives could well find himself a Cephalophore. Italian and Iberian history is full of regal sensitivity in this area. I doubt the Franks were more indulgent.

Second: "Furthermore, while at Aachen, Alcuin bestowed pet names upon his pupils – derived mainly from Virgil's Eclogues." "Furthermore" hints that this must be significant, but n.b. George W. Bush was famous for giving his associates nicknames, --- which a number of them apparently didn't particularly care for. Mannanan51 (talk) 05:24, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Both bits come from "Who's who in gay and lesbian history" by Aldrich and Wotherspoon. Yes, the implication is that sexually and emotionally he preferred men. Contaldo80 (talk) 08:22, 6 August 2014 (UTC)


I can find no reference to Alcuin's being canonized. Some martyrologies (which are not official in the Catholic Church) name him a "beatus", a blessed. However, there has been no official confirmation of his cultus.Caeruleancentaur (talk) 15:36, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

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