Carine van Rhijn
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Rethinking the Carolingian reforms
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This chapter sets out to challenge current interpretations of Carolingian culture, and especially its perceived correctio (correction), reform or renaissance. It maintains that in the past, too much emphasis has been placed on the central agency of kings and their direct entourages, although a much wider group of (mostly anonymous) people was actively involved in the moral improvement of society. Secondly, the idea that the creation of uniformity was one intended outcome needs re-assessment. Instead of reading variety as 'failed uniformisation', it should instead be considered as cultural wealth and pluriformity. In early medieval eyes, in other words, 'correct' practices could take many different shapes and forms. Thirdly, the terms generally used to discuss Carolingian culture (reform, correctio, renaissance) are the inheritance of a long historiographical tradition. As a result of nineteenth and early twentieth century convictions, such terms come with a set of connotations which distort the primary sources of the period itself.

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