Religion and Education
Print Religion and Education Reading Comprehension
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 9 to 12
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||benefactor, christianity, reedited, spirituality, tax-supported, theologian, yale, stylus, crimson, rhetoric, stupidity, scribes, kingly, vellum, sensible, illiteracy
||King Arthur, King Charlemagne, Legendary King Arthur, Round Table, Golden Gospels, United States, John Harvard, Yale University, Abraham Pierson, Morrill Act
Religion and Education
By Colleen Messina
1 When medieval scribes were deciding on subjects for their tales, they singled out two extraordinary men to write about: King Arthur and King Charlemagne. Legendary King Arthur was remembered for his noble deeds and his Knights of the Round Table. King Charlemagne fought many battles too, but he was also called a "light in the dark ages" because he waged a war against illiteracy.
2 King Charlemagne encouraged learning, although it is not known if he ever learned to read or write himself. Charlemagne was appalled by the illiteracy of his time, but he astutely observed that many church officials were well educated. Charlemagne then decided that the church was the best vehicle to spread learning throughout his vast kingdom. Just as he planned many military maneuvers, Charlemagne staked out his strategy against illiteracy.
3 One of the marks of Charlemagne's greatness was that he found qualified men to fulfill his own kingly ambitions. He invited foreign scholars to France to educate his people. An English scholar and theologian named Alcuin arrived at the royal palace in 781 A.D. He started a school at the Abbey of Saint Martin's, and he began to figure out how to fulfill Charlemagne's lofty goals.
4 Alcuin also taught the king, his wife, and his children. Charlemagne tried hard to be a good student. After all, if he could lead men in battle, he could surely become a scholar. However, the great king found writing especially difficult. He even kept tablets under his pillow so he could practice writing his letters in his spare time. Unfortunately, he started too late in life and was too busy building his empire to ever become a great scholar. However, he remained an avid supporter of Alcuin's efforts to improve education and preserve learning.
5 Alcuin worked tirelessly. His task seemed almost impossible. Even the Gospels were distorted, so Alcuin revised and rewrote church literature. One of his most beautiful projects was a series of illuminated manuscripts written in gold on purple vellum called the Golden Gospels. Alcuin also reedited and rewrote all of the works of the classical Greek and Roman scholars. Alcuin once wrote that he made "others drunk on the old wine of ancient learning." If you think you have lots of homework, imagine how Alcuin must have felt!
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