Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Howell, Wilbur Samuel, trans., The Rhetoric of Alcuin & Charlemagne (London: Oxford University Press)

Text name(s): Disputatio de Rhetorica et de Virtutibus Sapientissimi Regis Karli et Albini Magistri; The Dialogue of the Most Wise King Charles and the Master Alcuin Concerning Rhetoric and the Virtues

Number of pages of primary source text: 190


Dates: 787 - 800

Archival Reference: 

Original Language(s): 

  • Latin


  • Translated into English.
  • Original language included.

Translation Comments: Latin text and English translation based on that of Halm (Rhetores Latini Minores; Leipsic, 1863). The English translation can be found on facing pages.

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • Europe


Record Types: 

  • Philosophic Work
  • Dialog

Subject Headings: 

  • Classics / Humanism


  • Index
  • Introduction


Alcuin of York, often nicknamed Flaccus (after Horace) or Albinus because of his mastery of Latin literature and learning, was an illustrious scholar, poet, and teacher summoned from England by Charlemagne to crown his already impressively erudite court in Aachen. The most identifiable figure behind the so-called Carolingian Renaissance, Alcuin also served Charles in important advising functions, especially in ecclesiastical matters, from the 780’s until his death in 804. The De Rhetorica is written in the form of a dialogue between King Charles and Alcuin, where the

and outlines the work’s possible intended roles in education. Howell contends that Alcuin’s purpose in writing the De Rhetorica was to popularize the principles underlying Cicero’s De Inventione and other ancient works on rhetoric, encouraging the engagement with the classics where hostility towards them was not uncommon.

Introduction Summary: 

This edition includes ten pages of notes, most indicating references to Alcuin’s classical and patristic sources. This remains the definitive English translation of the De Rhetorica.

Cataloger: WLL