« PreviousContinue »
vested in the
at a later
importance, who claimed and exercised a considerable in- CHAP. II. fluence in the conduct of those affairs of the university which Powers were not immediately connected with the proper functions nou-regents of the regency; and we consequently find that at the period period. when our earliest existing statutes were framed, the nonregents were recognized as forming an integrant body in the constitution of the university, as the house of non-regents, exercising a concurrent jurisdiction with the house of regents in all questions relating to the property, revenues, public rights, privileges, and common good of the university. Under certain circumstances also they participated with the regents in the elections; they were admitted likewise to the congregations of the regents, though not allowed to vote; and, in some cases, the two houses were formed into one assembly, who deliberated in common upon affairs which were of great public moment.
'When graces were submitted by the chancellor to the approbation of the senate, the proctors collected the votes and announced the decision in the house of regents, and the scrutators in that of the non-regents; and when the two houses acted as one body, their votes were collected by the proctors. It does not appear, from the earlier statutes, that the chancellor was controlled in the sanction of graces, by any other authority; but, in later times, such graces, before they were proposed to the senate, were submitted to the discussion and approbation of a council or caput, which was usually appointed at the beginning of each congregation. Under very peculiar circumstances, the chancellor might be superseded in the exercise of his distinctive privilege, when he obstinately refused the sanction of his authority for taking measures for the punishment of those who had injured or insulted a regent or a community; for, in such a case, as appears by a very remarkable statute', the proctors were empowered, by their sole authority, to call a congregation of regents only, or of both regents and non-regents, notwithstanding any customs which might be contrary to so violent and unusual a mode of proceeding.
1 Stat. Antiq. 57. De potestate procuratorum in defectu cancellarii.
CHAP. II. Proctors.
'The two proctors, called also rectors, after chancellor and vice-chancellor, were the most important administrative officers in the university. They were chosen annually, on the tenth of October, by the regents, the master of glomery and two junior regents standing in scrutiny and collecting the votes; they regulated absolutely the times and modes of reading, disputations, and inceptions in the public schools, and the public ceremonies of the university; they superintended the markets, with a view to the supply of wine, bread, and other necessaries for the scholars, and to the suppression of monopolies and forestallings and those other frauds, in the daily transactions of buyers and sellers, which furnished to our ancestors the occasions of such frequent and extraordinary legislation; they managed the pecuniary affairs and finances of the university; they possessed the power of suspending a gremial from his vote, and a nongremial from his degrees, for disobeying their regulations or resisting their lawful authority; they collected the votes and announced the decisions of the house of regents, whose peculiar officers they were; they examined the questionists by themselves or by their deputies; they superintended or controlled all public disputations and exercises, either by themselves or by their officers the bedels; they administered the oaths of admission to all degrees, and they alone were competent to confer the important privileges of the regency'. The other officers of the university were the bedels, scrutators, and taxors. The bedels were originally two in number, who were elected by grace by the concurrent authority of the regents and non-regents in their respective houses. The first was called the bedel of theology and canon law, and the other of arts, from their attending the schools of those faculties. They were required to be in
1The proctors were also authorised in those days of poverty, to take pledges for the payment of fees, which were usually jewels or manuscripts; these books or manuscripts were valued by the university stationarii (the booksellers), who were not unfrequently bribed to cheat the university by putting a price upon them
which could not be realised, in case the pledges were not redeemed. By a late Statute (see Statuta Antiqua No. 182) no manuscript written or book printed, on paper instead of vellum, was allowed to be received in pledge.' Peacock's Observations on the Statutes, p. 25.
almost perpetual attendance upon the chancellor, proctors, CHAP. II. and at the disputations in the public schools.
'The two scrutators were elected by the non-regents at Scrutators. each congregation, to collect the votes and announce the decisions of their house, in the same manner as was done by the two proctors in the house of regents.
'The two taxors were regents appointed by the house of Taxors. regents, who were empowered, in conjunction with two burgesses (liegemen), to tax or fix the rent of the hostels and houses occupied by students, in conformity with the letters patent of Henry III. They also assisted the proctors in making the assize of bread and beer, and in the affairs relating to the regulation of the markets.'
It will easily be seen, from the above outline, that the example of the university of Paris was not less influential in the organisation of Cambridge than in that of Oxford; but a fact of much deeper interest also offers itself for our consideration, the fact that it was in those actually engaged in the The working work of education in the university and in no one else, that ly the legisla the management of the university was vested. The difficulties of intercommunication in those days of course precluded the existence of a body with powers like those of the present senate; but when we find that not even residents, when they had ceased to take part in the work of instruction, were permitted to retain the same control over the direction of the university, it is desirable to recognise the fact that it is in no way a tradition in the constitution of the university, but a comparatively modern anomaly, which still makes the efforts of those who are active labourers in her midst dependent for the sanction of whatever plans they may devise to render her discipline and instruction more effective, upon those who are neither residents nor teachers.
It was not until the year 1318 that Cambridge received Papal from Pope John XXII a formal recognition as a Studium of Cambridge Generale or Universitas', whereby the masters and scholars
1 Brian Twyne, with his usual unfairness, endeavours to wrest this fact into evidence that Cambridge, before this time, had no claim to be
considered a university :-'quæ es-
as a Studium Generale.
Privileges resulting from the
CHAP. II. became invested with all the rights belonging to such a corporation. Among other privileges resulting from this sanction, doctors of the university, before restricted to their own schools, obtained the right of lecturing throughout Christendom; but the most important was undoubtedly that which conferred full exemption from the ecclesiastical and spiritual power of the bishop of the diocese, and of the archbishop of the province, these powers, so far as members of the university were concerned, being vested in the chancellor. It appears however that the immunity thus conferred was not admitted by all the subsequent bishops of the diocese; the right of interference was claimed or renounced very much according to the individual temper and policy of the bishop for the time being; until the controversy was finally set at rest, in the year 1430, by the famous Barnwell Process.
Increase of their power, and rapid decline of
If we now turn to consider the character of the intellectual activity which chiefly distinguished our universities at this period, we shall find that, as at Paris, it was the Mendicants who assumed the leadership of thought, and also, for a time at least, bore the brunt of that unpopularity which papal extortion and ambition called up among the laity at large.
There is, perhaps, no instance in English history, of any religious body undergoing so sudden and complete a change their popu- in popular esteem, as that afforded in this century by the new orders. They entered and established themselves in the country amid a tide of popularity that overbore all opposition; before less than thirty years had passed their warmest supporters were disavowing them. The first symptoms of a change are observable in the alarm and hostility
isset, aut privilegia sub nomine Uni-
dagogik, Iv 11.) But this fact proves nothing with respect to Paris and Bologna, Oxford and Cambridge. The origin and formation of these universities is lost in obscurity. 'Das gilt,' says Von Raumer, 'von keiner deutschen Universität, man kennt bei allen die Geschichte ihrer Entstehung.' IV 6.
which the regular orders found themselves unable any CHAP. II. longer to disguise. It soon became apparent that the friar so far from representing merely the humble missionary to whom the task of instructing the multitudes might be complacently resigned, was likely to prove a formidable and unscrupulous rival in the race for influence and wealth. Among the first to criticise their conduct in less favourable Their conduct language, is the historian Matthew Paris, a Benedictine, Paris. familiar by official experience with the defects and scandals of his own order, and distinguished by the energy with which he sought to bring about a general and real reform. Writing of the year 1235, he thus describes the conduct of the new orders: In this year certain of the brothers Minor, together with some of the order of Preachers, did with extreme impudence and in forgetfulness of the professions of their order, secretly make their way into certain noble monasteries, under the pretext of the performance of their duties and as though intending to depart after they had preached on the morrow (post crastinam prædicationem). Under the pretence however of illness or of some other reason, they prolonged their stay; and having constructed a wooden altar and placed thereon a small consecrated altar of stone which they carried with them, they performed in low tones a secret mass, and confessed many of the parishioners, to the prejudice of the priests (in præjudicium Presbyterorum). For they asserted that they had received authority so to do; in order, forsooth, that the faithful might confess to them matters which they would blush to reveal to their own priest, whom they might disdain as one involved in like sin, or fear, as one given to intemperance; to such it was the duty of the brothers Minor to prescribe penance and grant absolution'.'
As at Paris, again, the two orders were unable to repress
1 Historia Major, ed. Wats, p. 419. MS. Cott. Nero. D. V. fol. 257 b. I have generally referred to this manuscript when using the Historia Major of Matthew Paris. It was given by John Stow, the antiquary, to Archbishop Parker, and the second part (ann. 1189-1250) was, in the
opinion of Sir F. Madden, 'completed