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against them


for it involved the transfer of numerous acts and disputations, CHAP. III. previously held at their different houses, to the church of St. Mary, the recognised arena of academic ceremonies. The sole concession in favour of the friars required that every bachelor, when he had commented on the Sentences in the public schools, should be bound to repeat his lecture at the school of the Dominicans before he was admitted to teach in theology. The decision, Wood tells us, sorely dejected the Dominicans, who were thus compelled to witness large numbers of the students diverted from their doors and their own sources of emolument considerably curtailed'. In the uni- statute. versity of Cambridge we find, in the year 1359, a statute at Camenacted prohibiting two friars of the same order from incepting in the same year; a subsequent statute required that two regents, whether doctors or bachelors of divinity, of the same house, should not concur in their 'ordinary' readings, whether of the Bible or the Sentences, but that one of them must read in his own convent, and the other in the schools of the university. These statutes,' says dean Peacock, 'would seem to have been framed with a view of compelling them [the friars], if admitted to the regency in the university, to take part in the public duties incumbent upon other regents, and not to confine their labours within the walls of their own monasteries"." Such legislation on the part of the university was keenly They appeal resented by the friars, and in the year 1366, the universities ment. on the one hand and the Mendicants on the other, besieged parliament with angry recriminations. The chancellor and the proctors, and the provincials and ministers of the four orders, repaired to Westminster and submitted their disputes to the royal decision. The conclusion arrived at by Edward III, to which the bishops, dukes, earls, and barons all signified their assent, was so far favourable to the Mendicants that it rescinded the statute forbidding them to receive into their order The statute

1 Wood-Gutch, 1 382-384. 'Nothing was granted to the friars, but only that they should enjoy their schools within the precincts of their house, to be free for lectures, disputations, and determinations, and nothing else, conditionally, that in

the performance of them they do not
entrench upon, or contradict, the
students of the university.' Ibid.

2 Cooper, Annals, 1 105. Pea-
cock, Observations, etc. Append. A.
xliii, note.

to parlia



CHAP. III. scholars under eighteen years of age, and forbade the enactment of any similar statute: a far more important provision however was that whereby all bulls and processes from Rome, favouring the Mendicants in their relation to the university, were definitely set aside, and the renunciation of all advantages derived therefrom rendered compulsory'. But the pertinacity of the friars was not easily to be overcome; for within nine years after the enactment of the above provisions, they obtained through the assistance of Christ Church, Canterbury, a bull enabling them to dispense with a statute which regained by the quired that all persons should be regents in arts before proceeding to the degree of doctor of divinity; in other words, enabling them to proceed to the highest academical degree without having previously borne their part in the work of university instruction".




Opposition to

the theory of Walter de Merton.

Efforts of
Wycnf on

Other events occurring about this time sufficiently indicate that the theory advocated by Walter de Merton and Hugh Balsham was encountering considerable opposition. It is generally allowed that, for a short though not exactly ascertained period, John Wyclif was master of Balliol College, then known as Balliol Hall; and in the year 1361, during his tenure of that office, we find him exerting himself on behalf of the secular clergy maintained on the foundation, by procuring a papal bull permitting the impropriation of the living 1561 in their of Abbotesley, recently presented by Sir William de Felton to the college, for their support. forth how his holiness had been

behalf of the secular clergy at Oxford.

Papal bull of


1 Cooper, Annals, 1 109.

Lewis, Life of Wyclif, p. 6. The object of the Mendicants appears to have been to obtain the privilege of reading and lecturing at their own schools instead of those belonging to the university: that they did not claim exemption from the course of instruction that preceded the period of regency is evident from the language of Gregory:-'Nos igitur volentes eosdem custodem et collegium favore prosequi, gratiose hujusmodi supplicationious inclinati, volumus ac eisdem custodi et collegio apostolica auctoritate concedimus, quod custos et scolares dicti collegii qui

In the recital the bull sets petitioned by the clerks and sunt et erunt pro tempore, quamvis non rexerint in hujusmodi artium facultate, dummodo alias in primitivis scientiis sufficiente fuerint instructi ac cursus suos fecerint in theologica facultate, et per diligentem examinationem, juxta morem ipsius studii, sufficientes et idonci reperti extiterint ad magisterium recipiendum in eadem, ad hujusmodi magisterii honorem et docendi licentiam in ipsa theologica facultate in studio supra dicto............sublato cujuslibet difficultatis obstaculo, libere admittantur, etc.' See Collect, of Papers and Records, Ibid. p. 302.

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scholars of Balliol Hall who had represented that 'there were CHAP. III. many students and clerks in the said hall, and that every one of them had anciently received only pence a week, and when they had taken their degree of master of arts were immediately expelled the said hall, so that they could not, by reason of their poverty, make any progress in other studies, but sometimes were forced, for sake of a livelihood, to follow some mechanical employment; that Sir William de Felton, having compassion on them, desired to augment the number of the said scholars, and to ordain that they should have, in common, books of diverse faculties, and that every one of them should receive sufficient clothing, and twelve pence every week, and that they might freely remain in the said hall, whether they took their master's or doctor's degree or no, until they had got a competent ecclesiastical benefice, and then should leave the hall. On the 16th of May in the same year that Wyclif exhibited this bull to Gynwell, bishop Wyclif leaves of Lincoln, he was himself instituted, on the presentation of Oxford. the college, to the rectory of Fylingham, in Lincolnshire, and shortly after, probably as soon as his term of grace was expired, resigned the mastership of the college and went to reside on his living. He did not become permanently resident again in Oxford until 1374; but in October, 1363, he is found renting rooms in Queen's College, and in 1368 he obtained two years' leave of absence from his living for the purpose of prosecuting his studies at the university". It was probably therefore when at Fylingham that he heard the history of similar efforts to his own on behalf of the secular clergy, in connexion with Canterbury Hall. It was in the year 1361, the same year that Wyclif obtained the papal bull above quoted, that Simon Islip, archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Islip, sought to carry out a plan resembling that conceived by Canterbury Hugh Balsham,-a combination of the seculars and the religious on the same foundation. He had founded Canterbury Hall, and had admitted to the

* The amount stands, as above, a blank in Lewis.

1 Lewis, Life of Wielif, p. 4. (from Manuscript Collections of the Bishop

society a warden and three

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archbishop of


PART II His attempt

to combine

the two elements at


He finally expels the monks.

ham, archbp.

CHAP. III. Scholars who were monks from Christchurch, Canterbury, and eight other scholars who were secular priests. The studies. prescribed were logic and the civil and the canon law. But, as at Cambridge, the project served only to bring out more terbury clearly the incompatibility of the two elements. The monks and the seculars were perpetually at variance, and Simon Islip, perceiving that harmony was hopeless, in 1365 expelled the warden Woodhall, together with the other monks, and constituted the college a foundation for the secular clergy Simon Lang- exclusively'. The successor of Simon Islip was Simon Langham, a monk by education and entirely monastic in his sympathies. Under his auspices and by the use of considerable influence at Rome, the monks obtained a reversal of Simon Islip's decision. The seculars were all expelled, and their places filled by their rivals. Such a result must have proved a bitter disappointment to the more liberal party at the university, and the feelings of Wyclif when he came up to Oxford in the following year, having obtained the leave of absence from his living above mentioned, can hardly have been those of much friendliness to either monk or Mendicant.

of Canterbury 13661368.

He expels

the seculars

from Canter

bury Hall.

Efforts of the laity to circumscribe

the power of

While the seculars were thus contending under numerous disadvantages against their powerful foes, the laity in their the Church. turn were seeking to circumscribe the power of the whole Church. To counteract the rapacity of Rome the Statute against Provisors was re-enacted six times in the course of the century; while, for the purpose of limiting and defining the functions of the ecclesiastic, we find parliament addressing

1 This fact is not brought out by Dean Hook in his life of Simon Langham Lives, Iv 210), but it is distinctly stated by Lewis, Life of Wyclif, p. 13, and by Professor Shirley, Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. 515. Dean Hook takes notice of the deposition of Woodhead or Woodhall only. The new warden appointed on this occasion was John Wyclif of Mayfield, whom Prof. Shirley has, it may be considered, satisfactorily proved to have been also the fellow of Merton College (see Note on the Two

John Wyclifs, appended to the Fasc. Ziz.); such a conclusion, of course, cancels many pages in the Life by Lewis, and in the Monograph of Dr. Robert Vaughan. The testimony of Wodeford, on which the latter writer chiefly relies in endeavouring to prove that the warden of Canterbury Hall and the reformer were the same person, is shown by Professor Shirley, upon a searching criticism of the whole evidence, to Le unentitled to credence.


Real character of Wyclif's

the Crown, in the year 1371, with a general remonstrance CHAP. III. against the appointment of churchmen to all great dignities of the state, and petitioning that laymen may be chosen for these secular offices. The movement was attributed by many to John of Gaunt; but that Wyclif was the adviser of his patron in this matter we have no evidence. Such data as we possess would rather lead us to the conclusion that his career as a reformer had scarcely commenced'. The long neglect into which his Latin treatises have, in this country, been allowed to fall, has indeed tended to create considerable misapprehension as to his real character. Wyclif with all his noble aims in the direction of Church reform and the purification of doctrine, his translation of the Scriptures, his English tracts, so full of pathos, irony, and manly passion, sympathies. his denunciations of Romish innovations, was still the schoolman, the dialectician, and the realist. 'He was second to none,' says the monk Knighton, 'in philosophy; in the Wyclif discipline of the schools he was incomparable.' 'He was,' schoolman says Anthony Harmer, 'far from being condemned at Oxford, during his own life or the life of the duke of Lancaster, but was had in great esteem and veneration at that university to the last; and his writings, for many years before and after his death, were as much read and studied there as those of Aristotle, or the Master of the Sentences". A most profound philosopher and a most distinguished divine; a man of surpassing and indeed superhuman genius,' is the verdict of Anthony Wood. When such is the testimony of prejudiced if not hostile judges, we need seek for no farther evidence to shew what was really the generally accepted repu

1 Milman, Latin Christianity, Bk. XIII c. 6. Dr. Robert Vaughan has quoted from the Ecclesiæ Regimen (Cotton MSS. Titus, D. 1) passages which clearly shew that Wyclif subsequently approved the views urged on this occasion; the date of this manuscript is uncertain, but there is every reason for supposing that it is the production of a much later period in Wyclif's life, when he had actually assumed the part of a reformer.

Lewis has asserted that Chaucer,

in his description of the Parish Priest,
'seems to have had him (Wyclif),
this friend and acquaintance of his,
in his thoughts.' Life of Wyclif, p.
45. Mr. Robert Bell, in his preface
to Chaucer, observes, on the other
hand, that the antagonism is per-
fect;' and that if Chaucer meant to
apply the sketch to Wyclif, it must
have been as masked sarcasm and
not as a panegyric.

3 Anthony Harmer's Specimen, p.
15 (quoted by Lewis).

the foremost

of his day.

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