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Carolingian Treasures


This website is the one of the exhibition entitled « Carolingian Treasures », organized by the BNF in the spring of 2007.

For the first time in the last fifty years, an exhibition was dedicated in France to Carolingian Renaissance, which took place in the reigns of Charlemagne (768-814), Louis the Pious (814-840) and Charles the Bald (840-877). Carolingian Renaissance was a vast intellectual, artistic and religious movement. Charlemagne and his successors actively worked on this renewal. They settled as heirs of the Roman emperors and acted as veritable patrons. They reformed liturgy and school policy and copied many sacred and secular texts.
This literary, religious and artistic movement allowed the preservation of the literary heritage of classical Latin Antiquity and the renewal of the biblical tradition and theological studies.

The works presented by the BNF were created between 781 and 877.

In parallel with this exhibition which took place in Paris, this site was started as a « virtual exhibition ». Each manuscript was digitized. This responds to the willingness to democratize culture : such initiatives enable researchers, students and amateurs to easily access these documents regardless of their country, their region, their financial means, their means of transport or their age. Everybody in the world can access these documents in just a few clicks.

On the site, these textual and iconographic documents are associated with in-depth studies, which place them in their historical, intellectual, spiritual and political context.

Like the Parisian exhibition, the virtual exhibition is organized into several categories. The first section is entitled “Carolingian books”. It explains how the production of books developed and professionalized. The second section is entitled “Carolingian decorations” : scholars show how the Carolingian style was forged to base the ancient, insular and Merovingian arts. The next category is devoted to Caroline minuscule. Then, the exhibition is interested in the political and intellectual aspect of the Carolingian renaissance. Finally, the last section is entitled “read and write” : indeed, if Charlemagne didn’t “invent school”, he unified teaching in the empire, ordered the correction of the sacred texts in Latin and made sure of the good education of future religious people.

The website also allows to leaf through three emblematic manuscripts in the form of a digital facsimile: the Merovingian Sacramentary of Gellone, the one of Drogon and the Psychomachy of Prudence, a copy of a Roman manuscript. Finally, the site offers chronological friezes, glossaries, anthologies, summary sheets, pedagogical tracks and a very rich bibliography for those who would like to deepen their knowledge.

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