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From Cathedral Church Schools to Universities

  • Christopher J. Lucas

Abstract

Cultural and intellectual recovery in the early Middle Ages was a slow, painstaking process. By the end of the seventh century most of Europe lay in ruins. Antique monuments were destroyed; the old Roman roads, which had once afforded efficient transport had long since fallen into disrepair; whole cities had crumbled; and the past was largely forgotten. To the hordes of Vandals, Goths, Huns, Visigoths, Franks, and Saxons that had once overwhelmed the tottering Roman Empire now succeeded roving bands of indigenous brigands, mercenaries, and feudal barons. Innumerable local wars ravaged the land; and law and order ceased to exist. The great masses of the peasantry could hope for little more than subsistence, even as the rich and powerful preyed upon them at will. The nobility, meanwhile, retreated into the safety of its walled fortresses and castles. The long night of the Dark Ages had fallen.

Keywords

Fourteenth Century Twelfth Century Lecture Hall Student Nation AMERICAN High Education 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    See Pierre Rtché, Education and Culture the Barbarian West Sixth Through Eighth Centuries, John J. Contrini, trans. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1976)Google Scholar
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  3. John Thelin, Higher Education and Its Useful Past (Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman, 1982), pp. 26–28Google Scholar
  4. James Bowen, A History of Western Education, 3 vols. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975), II, pp. 5–40.Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    A relatively late expression of antipathy toward secular learning is nicely illustrated by the polemical missive of Stephen of Tournai to the Pope (c. 1192–1203) in Chartularium universitatis Parisiensis, 1,47-48, extracted and reproduced in Lynn Thorndike, University Records And Life in the Middle Ages (New York: Columbia University Press, 1944), pp. 22–24.Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    For an overview of significant cultural developments, consult the useful account supplied in Charles H. Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1955)Google Scholar
  7. Anders Piltz, The World of Medieval Learning, David Jones, trans. (Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble, 1981), pp. 1–52.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    The early medieval categorization of learning in terms of the subjects of the trivium and quadrivium, while it did not originate with Hugh of St. Victor, apparently owed much to his Didascalicon. See J. Taylor, trans., The Didascalicon of Hugh of St. Victor (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), pp. 46–90Google Scholar
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  10. D.W. Sylvester, Educational Documents 800–1816 (London: Methuen, 1970), pp. 5–12.Google Scholar
  11. 6.
    The evolution of the cathedral church school into the university as a recognizable institutional type is traced in Charles Homer Haskins, The Rise of Universities (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1923), pp. 1–36Google Scholar
  12. Helen Wieruszowski, The Medieval University (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1966), pp. 15–26.Google Scholar
  13. Hastings Rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936), pp. 3–20.Google Scholar
  14. 8.
    See Joan M. Ferrante, “The Education of Women in the Middle Ages in Theory, Fact, and Fantasy,” in Patricia H. Labalme, ed., Beyond Their Sex: Learned Women of the European Past (New York: New York University Press, 1980), pp. 9–42.Google Scholar
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  17. 9.
    The full tale is recounted in Étienne Gilson, Heloose and Abelard, L. K. Shook, trans. (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, I960). Abbreviated accounts appear in Gabriel Compayré, Abelard and the Origin and Early History of Universities (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1893), pp. 1–23Google Scholar
  18. 12.
    An authoritative analysis of student nations is supplied in Pearl Kibre, The Nations in the Medieval Universities (Cambridge, Mass.: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1948).Google Scholar
  19. 14.
    Rashdall, I, pp. 19, 215, 220–221, 247, 284; Kibre, p. 69;Thorndike, p. 72.A good account of the internal development of the University of Paris is given in Gordon Leff, Paris and Oxford Universities in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: An Institutional and Intellectual History (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1968)Google Scholar
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    Friedrich Heer, The Medieval World, Europe 1100–1350, Janet Sondheimer, trans. (New York: Mentor, 1961), p. 243.Google Scholar
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    The early studio of Bologna are treated in detail in Rashdall, I, chapter IV, pp. 87–267. Note also the discussions in Kibre, pp. 3–17; Wieruszowski, pp. 62–73; Schachner, pp. 147–185; and Haskins, The Rise of the Universities, pp. 10–19. Relevant primary source documents are extracted in Thorndike, pp. 163, 168, 279, 282–284. See also J. K. Hyde, “Commune, University, and Society in Early Medieval Bologna,” in John W Baldwin and Richard A. Goldthwaite, eds., Universities In Politics: Case Studies from the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1972), pp. 17–46.Google Scholar
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    Complaints about ill-prepared and illiterate students seeking to associate themselves with studia were frequent. See Daniel D. McGarry, trans., The Metalogicon of John of Salisbury (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953)Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Robert F. Seybolt, trans., The Manuale Scholarium (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1921), pp. 72–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 27.
    Accounts of typical courses of study and academic requirements are supplied in Friedrich Paulsen, German Education: Past and Present, T. Lorenz, trans. (London: T. Fisher and Unwin, 1908), pp. 24ff.Google Scholar
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  26. 29.
    The role of formal disputations in the examining process is discussed in Anne Fremantle, Age of Faith (New York: Time-Life, 1965), pp. 97ff.Google Scholar
  27. 48.
    For an account of the origins and early development of Oxford, see Heer, pp. 251–254; and Schachner, pp. 186–190. A fuller treatment appears in Rashdall, III, pp. 140–273; and in Leff, parts 2, 3, and 5. See also J. I. Catto and Ralph Evans, eds., Late Medieval Oxford (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  28. 52.
    Rashdall, I, p. 512. See also Stephen Ferruolo, “Learning, Ambition, and Careers in the Medieval University,” History of Education Quarterly 28 (Spring 1988): 1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. William J. Courtnay, “Inquiry and Inquisitions: Academic Freedom in Medieval Universities,” Church History 58 (June 1989): 181.Google Scholar

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© Christopher J. Lucas 2006

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  • Christopher J. Lucas

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