Page images


CHAP. I. structors in each faculty. Throughout the fourteenth and

fifteenth centuries it was the foremost foundation of the
university, nor can it be denied that many eminent men
received their education within its walls; among them was
Nicolas Oresme', afterwards master of the college; Clamanges,
no unworthy representative of the school of Gasparin and
Aretino; Pierre d'Ailly, afterwards bishop of Cambray; and
the celebrated Gerson. But though poverty was here, as at
the Sorbonne, among the conditions prescribed by the
founders as essential to the admission of a scholar, the
associations of the college with rank and wealth soon de-
veloped an ambitious, worldly spirit that little harmonized
with the aims and occupations of the true student. High
office in the State or in the Church were the prizes to which
it became a tradition among its more able sons to aspire;
and such prizes were rarely to be won in that age without
a corresponding sacrifice of integrity and independence.
The influence acquired by the college of Navarre was un-
happily made subservient to the designs and wishes of its
patrons, and the value of the degrees conferred by the
university and the efficiency of the examinations are stated

to have equally suffered from the interference and the faOther Col.

vouritism resulting from these courtly relations”. In the
year 1308 was founded the Collége de Bayeux by the
bishop of that see, designed especially for the study of medi-
cine and the civil law; and the Collége de Laon, in 1314,

leges of the fourteenth Century.

1 For a brief account of this remarkable man see Egger, L'Heliénisme en France, i 128—130. Oresme was one of the earliest political economists, and his treatises on mathematics and his linguistic attainments constitute a phenomenon almost as singular when taken in connexion with the age in which they appeared, as the culture of Roger Bacon in the previous century. Of bis acquaintance with Greek we shall have occasion to speak in another place.

2 Ce fut un malheur pour une corporation qui avait besoin d'indé. pendance, de s'être laisser dominer

par les hommes de cet maison, trop accoutumes à faire la volonté des rois et des princes pour être de bon conseillers dans les temps difficiles. On le vit bien quand éclatèrent, deux siècles après, les guerres de religions. L'ascendant que Navarre avait pris sur le corps enseignant, loin de le fortifier contre des périls qu'il faillait braver, l'affaiblit et l'énerva, en lui ôtant peu à peu, de connivence avec des protecteurs puissants, la liberté de ses leçons et la publicité de ses examens.' Le Clerc, Etat des Lettres au Quatorzième Siècle, 1 266, 267.


represented a similar design. The institution of the College CHAP. I. de Plessis-Sorbonne, for forty scholars, in 1323; of the College de Bourgogne, for twenty students of philosophy, in 1332; of Lisieux, for twenty-four poor scholars, in 1336,-are among the more important of no less than seventeen foundations which we find rising into existence with the half century that followed the creation of the college of Navarre.

‘Had all these colleges survived,' observes M. Le Clerc, Descripti ‘or had they all received their full.complement of scholars, the procession headed by the rector of the university, who, as it is told, was wont to enter the portals of St. Denis when the extreme rear was only at the Mathurins, would have been yet more imposing. Many however contained but five or six scholars who, while attending the regular course of instruction in the different faculties, met in general assembly on certain days for their disputations and conferences; while others, founded for larger numbers, maintained not more than two or three, or were completely deserted, their revenues having been lost, or the buildings having fallen into decay. At the general suppression of the small colleges in 1764, some had already ceased to exist.

Without adding to our lengthened enumeration the great episcopal schools, which must be regarded as distinct institutions, but including only the numerous foundations in actual connexion with the corporation of the university,as, for instance, the colleges of the different religious orders, the colleges founded for foreign students, the elementary schools or pensions, of the existence of which, in 1392, we have incontestable evidence, and the unattached students,we are presented with a spectacle which historians have scarcely recognised in all its significance, in this vast multitude which, undaunted by war, pestilence, and all manner of evils, flocked to this great centre for study and increase of knowledge. There was possibly something of illusion in all this; but notwithstanding, even the most able and most learned would have held that their education was defective had they never mingled with the concourse of students at Paris.

[ocr errors]


Largeness of the numbers.

* Towards the close of the sixteenth century, notwithstanding the disastrous religious wars, a Venetian ambassador was still able to say, “The university of Paris numbers little less than thirty thousand students, that is to say as many as and perhaps more than all the universities of Italy put together.” But Bologna, in the year 1262, was generally believed to number over twenty thousand. The enquiry naturally arises, how did this vast body of students subsist ?

an enquiry which it is by no means easy to answer, for the majority had no resources of their own, and the laity had, for a long time, been contending with a new inroad upon their fortunes resulting from the rise of the Mendicants. The secular clergy, threatened with absolute ruin by the new orders, conceived the idea of themselves assuming in self-defence the pristine poverty of the evangelists. There were the poor scholars of the Sorbonne, the enfants pauvres of St. Thomas du Louvre; the election of the rector was for a long time at Saint-Julien le Pauvre; the Collége d'Harcourt was expressly restricted to poor students, the statutes given to this foundation in the year 1311 requiring that ibi ponantur duodecim pauperes, an oft-recurring expression: and indeed the university was entitled to proclaim itself poor, for poor it undoubtedly was.

"The capètes of Montaigne, who were also, and not without the students. reason, known as a community of poor students, were how

ever not the most to be pitied, even after the harsh reform
which limited their diet to bread and water; there was
a yet lower grade of scholars who subsisted only on charity,
or upon what they might gain by waiting on fellow-students
somewhat less needy than themselves. Of Anchier Panta-
lion, a nephew of Pope Urban iv, by whom he was after-
wards raised to the dignity of cardinal, we are told that he
began his student life by carrying from the provision market
the meat for the dinners of the scholars with whom he
studied. This same humble little company, which formed
a kind of brotherhood with a chieftain or king at its head,
included in its ranks, besides other poor youths destined to
become eminent, the names of Ramus and Amyot.

Extreme poverty of



*The distinguishing traits of this student life, the memories of which survived with singular tenacity, were poverty, Other characardent application, and turbulence. The students in the faculty of Arts, “the artists,” whose numbers in the fourteenth century, partly owing to the reputation of the Parisian Trivium and Quadrivium, and partly in consequence of the declining ardour of the theologians, were constantly on the increase, were by no means the most ill-disciplined. Older students, those especially in the theological faculty, with their fifteen or sixteen years' course of study, achieved in this respect a far greater notoriety. At the age of thirty or forty the student at the university was still a scholar. This indeed is one of the facts which best explain the influence then exercised by a body of students and their masters over the affairs of religion and of the state.

However serious the inconvenience and the risk of thus converting half a great city into a school, we have abundant evidence how great was the attraction exercised by this vast seminary, where the human intellect exhausted itself in efforts which perhaps yielded small fruit though they promised much. To seekers for knowledge the whole of the Montagne Latine was a second fatherland.

The narrow streets, the lofty houses, with their low archways, their damp and gloomy courts, and halls strewn with straw', were never to be forgotten; and when after many years old fellow-students met again at Rome or at Jerusalem, or on the fields of battle where France and England stood arrayed for conflict, they said to themselves, Nos fuimus simul in Garlandia; or they remembered how they had once shouted in the ears of the watch the defiant menace,- Allez au clos Bruneau, vous trouverez à qui parler?'

i The street in which the principal schools were situated, was called the Rue du fouarre, Vicus Stramineus, or Straw Street, from the straw spread upon the floor, upon which the students reclined during the continuance of the lecture: benches and seats being forbidden by an express statute of Pope Urban y in 1366.

*In facultate artium, quod dicti scho. .
lares audientes suas lectiones in
dicta facultate, sedeant in terra coram
Magistro et non in scamnis aut sedi.
bus elevatis a terra.' See Peacock
on the Statutes, App. A. p. xlv.

? Le Clerc, État des Lettres au
XIV Siècle, 1 269–271,




In the preceding chapter our attention has been mainly directed to the three most important phases in the developement of the great continental university which formed to so large an extent the model for Oxford and Cambridge,—its general organization, the culture it imparted, and the commencement and growth of its collegiate system. We shall now, passing by for the present many interesting details, endeavour to shew the intimate connexion existing in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries between Paris on the one hand and Oxford and Cambridge on the other, and the fidelity with which the features we have noted were reproduced in our own country. The materials that Fuller and Anthony Wood found available for their purpose, when they sought to explore the early annals of their universities, are scanty indeed when compared with those which invited the labours of Du Boulay and Crevier. The university of Paris, throughout the thirteenth century, well-nigh monopolised the interest of the learned in Europe. Thither thought and speculation appeared irresistibly attracted; it was there that the new orders fought the decisive battle for place and power; that new forms of scepticism rose in rapid succession, and heresies of varying moment riveted the watchful eye of Rome; that anarchy most often triumphed and flagrant vices most prevailed; and it was from this seething centre that those influences went forth which predominated in the contemporary history of Oxford and Cambridge.

« PreviousContinue »