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Chapter Summary

This introduction chapter presents an overview of this book, which explains the fundamental transformation of astronomy by studying the reception of the four Roman works and the ways they were used by Carolingian scholars to teach the order of the heavens. Carolingian cultural developments have been interpreted more recently in the context of continuities from Merovingian times and of Visigothic Spanish as well as Anglo-Saxon influences. The Carolingian program of reform was seen primarily as religious renewal, to be carried forward by bishops and abbots under the guidance of the king. It was only after some decades of effort that the expansion of knowledge for purposes of clerical literacy and competence led to a significant expansion in the study of secular works from the Roman imperial past. Among the participants in Charlemagne’s educational reforms Alcuin (737–804) is by far the best known to us.

Keywords: astronomy; Carolingian cultural developments; heavens; Roman works



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