What Is the Significance of the Carolingian Renaissance?

The Carolingian Renaissance was significant because it preserved the literary heritage of the Roman Empire and developed a new uniform style of handwriting that made documents more legible. Scholars of that period also systematized Latin grammar, preserving the language of the Roman Catholic Church.

After rising to power in the Frankish empire, Charlemagne endeavored to unite all of the Germanic groups into one empire and convert them to Christianity. Through a series of military campaigns, he consolidated an area ranging from the Pyrenees in southern France to just north of the Balkan Peninsula. Crowned as Emperor of the Romans by the Pope in A.D. 800, Charlemagne promoted cultural and literary activity throughout his realm. Though virtually illiterate himself, Charlemagne saw the value of education and ensured that his children and grandchildren were fully educated.

During the Carolingian Renaissance, scholars such as Alcuin of York and Paul the Deacon collected Latin manuscripts and copied them. In many cases, the oldest editions of ancient works that have lasted to the present day are copies made during the Carolingian Renaissance. To facilitate this copying, and to ensure that scholars in different areas of the vast empire could understand each other's handwriting, Charlemagne sponsored the creation of the Carolingian minuscule, a form of handwriting from which modern day lower-case letters derive their form.