side of the study of Latin. A decline in grammatical learning is exemplified in the three Latin historians of the 6th century, Jordanes, Gildas and Gregory of Tours (d. 594), who begins his history of the Franks by lamenting the decay of Latin literature in Gaul. The historian of Tours befriended the Latin poet, Venantius Fortunatus (d. c. 600), who is still remembered as the writer of the three well-known hymns beginning Salve festa dies, Vexilla regis prodeunt, and Pange lingua gloriosi proelium certaminis. The decadence of Latin early in the 7th century is exemplified by the fantastic grammarian Virgilius Maro, who also illustrates the transition from Latin to Provençal, and from quantitive to accentual forms of verse.
While Latin was declining in Gaul, even Greek was not unknown in Ireland, and the Irish passion for travel led to the spread of Greek learning in the west of Europe. The Irish monk Columban, shortly before his death in 615, founded in the neighbourhood of Pavia the monastery of Bobbio, to be the repository of many Latin MSS. which were ultimately dispersed among the libraries of Rome, Milan and Turin. About the same date his fellow-traveller, Gallus, founded above the Lake of Constance the monastery of St Gallen, where Latin MSS. were preserved until their recovery in the age of the Renaissance. During the next twenty-five years Isidore of Seville (d. 636) produced in his Origines an encyclopaedic work which gathered up for the middle ages much of the learning of the ancient world.
In Italy a decline in the knowledge of Greek in the 5th and 6th centuries led to an estrangement between the Greek and Latin Churches. The year 690 is regarded as the date of the temporary extinction of Greek in Italy, but, in the first quarters of the 8th and the 9th centuries, the iconoclastic decrees of the Byzantine emperors drove many of the Greek monks and their lay adherents to the south of Italy, and even to Rome itself.
In Ireland we find Greek characters used in the Book of Armagh (c. 807); and, in the same century, a Greek psalter was copied by an Irish monk of Liége, named Sedulius (fl. 850), who had a wide knowledge of Latin literature. In England, some sixty years after the death of Augustine, the Greek archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus (d. 690) founded a school for the study of Greek, and with the help of an African monk named Hadrian made many of the English monasteries schools of Greek and Latin learning, so that, in the time of Bede (d. 735), some of the scholars who still survived were “as familiar with Greek and Latin as with their mother-tongue.” Among those who had learned their Greek at Canterbury was Aldhelm (d. 709), “the first Englishman who cultivated classical learning with any success.” While Aldhelm is known as “the father of Anglo-Latin verse,” Latin prose was the literary medium used by Bede in his celebrated Ecclesiastical History of England (731). Nine years after the death of Bede (735), Boniface, “the apostle of Germany,” sanctioned the founding of Fulda (744), which soon rivalled St Gallen as a school of learning. Alcuin (d. 804), who was probably born in the year of Bede’s death, tells us of the wealth of Latin literature preserved in the library at York. Through the invitation of Charles the Great, he became associated with the revival of learning which marks the reign of that monarch, by presiding over the School of the Palace (782-790), and by exercising a healthy influence as abbot of St Martin’s at Tours (796-804). Among the friends of Alcuin and the advisers of Charles was Theodulfus, bishop of Orleans and abbot of Fleury (d. 821), who is memorable as an accomplished Latin poet, and as the initiator of free education. Einhard (d. 840), in his classic life of Charles the Great, models his style on that of Suetonius, and shows his familiarity with Caesar and Livy and Cicero, while Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), who long presided over Einhard’s school of Fulda, was the first to introduce Priscian into the schools of Germany. His pupil, Walafrid Strabo, the abbot of Reichenau (d. 849), had a genuine gift for Latin poetry, a gift agreeably exemplified in his poem on the plants in the monastic garden. In the same century an eager interest in the Latin classics is displayed by Servatus Lupus, who was educated at Fulda, and was abbot of Ferrières for the last twenty years of his life (d. 862). In his literary spirit he is a precursor of the humanists of the Renaissance. Under Charles the Bald (d. 877) there was a certain revival of interest in literature, when John the Scot (Erigena) became, for some thirty years (c. 845-875), the head of the Palace School. He was familiar with the Greek Fathers, and was chosen to execute a Latin rendering of the writings of “Dionysius the Areopagite,” the patron saint of France. In the preface the translator praises the king for prompting him not to rest satisfied with the literature of the West, but to have recourse to the “most pure and copious waters of the Greeks.” In the next generation Remi of Auxerre was the first to open a school in Paris (900). Virgil is the main authority quoted in Remi’s Commentary on Donatus, which remained in use until the Renaissance. During the two centuries after John the Scot, the study of Greek declined in France. In England the 9th century closes with Alfred, who, with the aid of the Welsh monk, Asser, produced a series of free translations from Latin texts, including Boëthius and Orosius and Bede, and the Cura Pastoralis of Gregory the Great.
In the 10th century learning flourished at Aachen under Bruno, brother of Otto I. and archbishop of Cologne (953-965), who had himself learned Greek from certain Eastern monks at the imperial court, and who called an Irish bishop from Trier to teach Greek at the imperial capital. He also encouraged the transcription of Latin MSS., which became models of style to Widukind of Corvey, the imitator of Sallust and Livy. In the same century the monastery of Gandersheim, south of Hanover, was the retreat of the learned nun Hroswitha, who celebrated the exploits of Otho in leonine hexameters, and composed in prose six moral and religious plays in imitation of Terence. One of the most prominent personages of the century was Gerbert of Aurillac, who, after teaching at Tours and Fleury, became abbot of Bobbio, archbishop of Reims, and ultimately pope under the name of Silvester II. (d. 1003). He frequently quotes from the speeches of Cicero, and it has been surmised that the survival of those speeches may have been due to the influence of Gerbert. The most original hellenist of this age is Luitprand, bishop of Cremona (d. 972), who acquired some knowledge of Greek during his repeated missions to Constantinople. About the same time in England Oswald of York, who had himself been educated at Fleury, invited Abbo (d. 1004) to instruct the monks of the abbey recently founded at Ramsey, near Huntingdon. At Ramsey he wrote for his pupils a scholarly work dealing with points of prosody and pronunciation, and exhibiting an accurate knowledge of Virgil and Horace. During the same half-century, Ælfric, the abbot of Eynsham (d. c. 1030), aided Bishop Æthelwold in making Winchester famous as a place of education. It was there that he began his Latin Grammar, his Glossary (the earliest Latin-English dictionary in existence), and his Colloquium, in which Latin is taught in a conversational manner.
In France, the most notable teacher in the first quarter of the 11th century was Fulbert, bishop of Chartres (d. 1029). In and after the middle of that century the Norman monastery of Bec flourished under the rule of Lanfranc and Anselm, both of whom had begun their career in northern Italy, and closed it at Canterbury. Meanwhile, in Germany, the styles of Sallust and Livy were being happily imitated in the Annals of Lambert of Hersfeld (d. 1077). In Italy, where the study of Latin literature seems never to have entirely died out, young nobles and students preparing for the priesthood were not infrequently learning Latin together, in private grammar schools under liberal clerics, such as Anselm of Bisate (fl. 1050), who describes himself as divided in his allegiance between the saints and the muses. Learning flourished at Monte Cassino under the rule of the Abbot Desiderius (afterwards Pope Victor III.). In this century that famous monastery had its classical chronicler in Leo Marsicanus, and its Latin poet in Alfanus, the future archbishop of Salerno.
The Schoolmen devoted most of their attention to Aristotle, and we may here briefly note the successive stages in their gradually increasing knowledge of his works. Until 1128 only the first two of the five parts of the Organon were known, and those solely in Latin translations from the original. After that date two more became known; the whole was familiar to John