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CHAP. I. professoriate body; and the next step-the application of a definite test to the qualifications of the aspirants to the dignity of doctor-followed as a necessary precaution. Hence the system of examinations. The possession of a university degree was originally nothing else than the possession of a diploma to exercise the function of teaching; a right, which, at a later period, was equally recognised as a duty. The bachelors expounded the Sentences and the Scriptures; the doctors and masters taught systematically in the schools or preached to the laity; but all those who gained the degree of licentiate, master, or doctor, were held bound to devote a certain period to again imparting the learning they had Limitations acquired'. The permission to teach, consequent upon success in such examinations as were then instituted, was vested, so far as the university was concerned, in the Chancellor; but the Pope alone had the power to make the degree of doctor valid throughout Christendom. 'It may be worth while to mention,' says Professor Malden, 'that it was this privilege of catholic degrees, if we may use the expression, which in somewhat later times caused the confirmation of the popes to be sought whenever a new university was founded. It was not questioned that any sovereign might erect a university in his own dominions; or if any difficulty were raised, it was only with regard to a theological faculty: but it was the Pope alone who could make degrees valid beyond the limits of the university in which they were conferred "."

on the Chancellor's authority.

The 'Nations.'

The division that obtained at Bologna of Citramontani and Ultramontani was represented at Paris by the division into 'nations.' These were four in number:-(1) the French nation, including in addition to the native element, Spaniards, Italians, and Greeks; (2) the Picard nation, representing

1 Crévier, Hist. de l'Université de Paris, III 181. M. Le Clerc remarks, 'C'était une bonne institution que le noviciat des bacheliers, s'essayant pendant trois ans au professorat sous la direction des maîtres, quoiqu'il n'eût point fallu peut-être leur imposer quinze années d'épreuves, pour arriver, en théologie, au grade de licencié. Mais cet exercice triennal

eût été moins stérile pour eux, si, par cette manie de renfermer toujours l'esprit dans la plus étroite prison, ils n'eussent été tenus, pour faire, comme on disait, leur principe,' de commenter uniquement les livres des Sentences.' Etat des Lettres au XIVe Siècle, 1 291.

2 Malden, Origin of Universities,

p. 21.

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the students from the north-east and from the Netherlands;
(3) the Norman nation; (4) the English nation', comprising,
besides students from the provinces under English rule, those
from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany.

of Paris.

It may at first appear somewhat anomalous that the great centre of theological instruction in Europe, up to the fifteenth century, should have been distinguished rather by its allegiance to the secular than to the spiritual power, by < its sympathy with the kings of France rather than with the popes of Rome. It does not however require much acquaintance with these centuries to be aware that the papal policy was systematically directed to the discouragement of theological controversy and speculation. At Paris the traditions Early sympathies of the of Berengar and Roscellinus were still fresh in the memories University of men. Even the excellent designs of Peter Lombard appeared to have strangely failed of their avowed object, and to have fanned the flames they were intended to allay. We need not wonder, therefore, that this troublous mental activity and unceasing controversial spirit were viewed with disfavour and apprehension at Rome. On the other hand, long before the time of William of Occam, the university had evinced its sympathy with royalty and lent its aid in repelling the arrogant assertion of the ecclesiastical power. "Notwithstanding,' observes M. Le Clerc, the ties that Explanation bound it to the pontiff's chair, and the numbers of its clergy le Clerc. who had vowed allegiance, to that authority, the university had never been wholly an ecclesiastical body. Though born 1 under the shadow of the cathedral church, it took form and grew up under the protection of the monarch rather than the tutelage of the bishop. The French kings, who had at first accorded it but dubious and precarious aid, as soon as they perceived the accession to their own strength to be derived



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CHAP. I. from the new alliance, became its avowed friends, while the popes, its first and most ardent promoters, adopted towards it a policy of mistrust, coldness, and opposition; and the > chancellor of the cathedral, on whom it devolved, as the representative of the pontifical authority, to admit the licentiates of the higher faculty, and whose claims even amounted to a kind of perpetual presidency, ceased not, so long as his office continued to exist, to persecute the university to which he could not dictate'. The force of this criticism will be more apparent when we have passed under review the new culture and the tendencies of thought that riveted the attention of Europe upon Paris throughout the thirteenth century; but, before proceeding to this important subject, it will be well to mark the rapid extension of the movement of which the two most conspicuous examples have already occupied our attention.

of the




The only other universities in France that trace back their origin to the thirteenth century are those of Toulouse Century. and Montpellier; but in Italy the impetus communicated by Montpellier. the study of the civil law bore fruit in every direction. In the year 1222 the civil discords that prevailed at Bologna drove a large body of students and professors to Padua, where they established a school of the new learning, the commencement of that illustrious university. A similar migration in 1204 had already given birth to the university of Vicenza. Pisa, Vercelli, Pisa, Vercelli, Arezzo, and Ferrara rose in the same century; Ferrara, while in our own country Oxford and Cambridge appear Cambridge. emerging from an obscurity which, greatly as it has exercised the imaginative faculty of some eminent antiquarians, seems to indicate that the period and circumstances of these foundations belong to a field of enquiry which the seeker for real knowledge will most prudently forego. It may however be observed that such data as we possess would appear to point origin of the to an origin similar to that assigned to the university of Paris; the school in connexion with the priory of St Frideswyde, and that of the conventual church at Ely, being


Oxford and



of Oxford

and Cam


1 Etat des Lettres au Quatorzième Siècle, 1 262.

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probably the institution from whence the universities of CHAP. L Oxford and Cambridge respectively sprang1.


The scattered links which serve to mark the connexion between the times of Bede and Alcuin and those of Robert Grosseteste are few and imperfect. The chain of continuity was snapped asunder by the Danish invasions, and it would First Danish here be of small profit minutely to investigate the evidence A.D. 867. for a tradition which can scarcely be said to have existed.. Learning, to use the expression of William of Malmesbury, was buried in the grave of Bede for four centuries. The invader, carrying his ravages now up the Thames and now up the Humber, devastated the eastern regions with fire and sword. The noble libraries which Theodore and the abbats Hadrian and Benedict had founded were given to the flames3. In the year 870 the town of Cambridge was totally destroyed*. The monasteries of the Benedictines, the chief guardians of Destruction learning, appear to have been completely broken up; it is dictine not at all improbable,' says Mr Kemble, 'that in the middle of the tenth century there was not a genuine Benedictine society left in England". The exertions of King Alfred restored the schools and formed new libraries; and, under the auspices of St. Dunstan, the Benedictine order, renovated Their Revival at its sources by the recent establishment of the Cluniac Dunstan, branch on the continent, was again established. During the reign of Eadgar, when the land had rest from invasion, no Eadgar. less than forty convents of this order were founded. But once again the Danes swept over the country and the work

1 While we cannot doubt that a considerable number of scholars studied at Oxford in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, yet the fact that no species of pecuniary support was from any source, that we know of, appointed for them, and that no royal charter or letter has ever been produced hitherto, though Anthony Wood speaks of their loss, of an earlier reign than that of Henry III, seems to raise a very strong suspicion that the University did not exist at all before the Conquest, and that as soon as it became important enough to deserve and require royal recogni tion, it immediately obtained it, and

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of the Bene


under St.

circ. 950.

r. 958-975.




A.D. 993.

extension of

tine Order.

CHAP. I. of devastation was repeated; Oxford was burnt to the ground in the year 1009; a like fate overtook Cambridge in the following year; the library at Canterbury perished in the same visitation. The Benedictines indeed survived, and, when the reign of Knut restored tranquillity, notwithstanding the traditional jealousy of the secular clergy, their foundations Subsequent rapidly multiplied. Under the patronage of Eadward the the Benedic- Confessor the order became still further strengthened and extended. The rival foundations of St Augustine and Christ Church at Canterbury, those of Abingdon, St Alban's, Bury, Ely, Glastonbury, Malmesbury, Winchester, Westminster, and Rochester, all professed the Benedictine rule. Odo, the haughty bishop of Bayeux, refused to recognise any but a Benedictine as a true monk. But though the monasteries once more flourished, the losses to literature were for a long time irreparable. With the second Danish invasion, authors, whom Alcuin and Aelfred had known and studied, disappear for centuries: it may indeed be doubted whether the flames. that at different times consumed the libraries of Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople, inflicted a more appreciable loss upon the progress of education in western Europe. At the time of the Conquest, if we may credit the testimony of a competent though somewhat prejudiced witness, an acquaintance with grammar marked out the possessor as a prodigy'. Such, in briefest narrative, were the vicissitudes through which learning in England had passed at the time when she once more bowed before the conquering sword, and other and more humanising influences began to give fashion to her culture and her institutions.

Of Vacarius, and his lectures at Oxford on the civil law in the middle of the twelfth century, we have already spoken; it was probably about twenty years before that an English ecclesiastic returning from Paris, and commiserating the low

1 "Periisse autem iam tunc per Danicas aliasque eruptiones omnem priscam in Anglia eruditionem, luculentus est testis Guilielmus Malmesburiensis, Conquaestoris ævo proximus. (Lib. III.) Literarum,' inquit ille, 'et religionis studia obsoleverant

non paucis ante adventum Normannorum annis. Clerici literatura tumultuaria contenti vix Sacramentorum verba balbutiebant; stupori et miraculo erat caeteris, qui grammaticam nosset." Conringius, De Antiquitatibus Academicis, p. 282.

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