In the reign of Charlemagne (768–814) there was an intellectual renaissance which established the basis for the school curriculum and education throughout the Middle Ages. Charlemagne himself, probably advised by Alcuin, Theodulf of Orléans, and Paul the Deacon, initiated reforms to improve standards of literacy and Latin learning. In 789 the Admonitio generalis decreed that schools were to be established in every monastery and bishop's residence, and a circular letter sent to all abbots and bishops c.800 urged them not to neglect the study of letters and stressed the importance of teaching.
Education in the Carolingian cathedral and monastic schools was based on the seven liberal arts. Particular schools became celebrated for their learning. Some were active in book production and the formation of libraries linked with the needs of the schools and Christian learning. They were responsible for preserving most of the surviving writings of the classical authors of antiquity and so played a part in the transmission of the western classical tradition.