3. Books of Charlemagne’s Age

Charlemagne’s age starts in Friuli in 776 and ends in 899, the year of the first of at least 12 subsequent Hungarian invasions that devastated Friuli until the mid-tenth century, and brought to the destruction of many handwritten books and documents produced in the previous decades: only indirect evidences and several fragments thereof are now left.

Charlemagne’s age can be said starting in Friuli in 776, when the revolt lead by Hrodgaud (Rotgaudo) duke of Friuli was definitely suppressed, and ending in the year 899 upon beginning of Hungarian invasions that devastated Friuli for almost a century, and therefore signed a neat break in the conservation of the handwritten documents and books produced in the previous decades. For a reconstruction of the cultural history of ninth-century Friuli we are obliged to be content with some indirect evidences and a few finds, for the majority of which their origin in a scriptorium, either monastic or secular, of the region can be hypothesised, but only in a few cases proved with certainty. Both said evidences, referring to schools, librarian collections, textual traditions and finds however allow to infer the production and circulation of books in this region, too, in connection with liturgical or school needs, but also with more general cultural interests that can be referred to the intellectual aspect of the Carolingian renaissance. The main centre of the March of Friuli was Cividale, already the capital city of the Lombard duchy, as well as the see, and still for several centuries, of the patriarchs of Aquileia. Among these at least one should be remembered in pages dedicated to the ‘Friulian’ books of the Carolingian age: Paulinus of Aquileia (Paolino d’Aquileia) (787-802). A former member of the court circle of intellectuals, since Paulinus ascended to the patriarchal cathedra, he played, among others, his role as a diffuser of liturgical models conforming with the sovereign directives. His see at Cividale should have been held also by Eberhard [Everardo], the noble Frank, Charles the Bald’s brother-in-law, who ascended to rule the Duchy of Friuli in 836 and was then conferred the title of marquis upon. More than for his political action, Eberhard is known or is likely to be remembered for his culture: he was in contact with several prominent intellectuals of his age; above all, he is known for the surprising collection of books individually listed in his last will to be divided among his children, sons and daughters, and his wife. Surely different from the library, which is by the way still to be studied, Paulinus of Aquileia could attain for his own works, this other collection reflects the tastes and interests of a politician and nobleman.

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