Life in the Medieval University
by Robert S. Rait
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[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. Author's spelling has been maintained.]

The Cambridge Manuals of Science and Literature



New York: G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras: MACMILLAN AND CO., Ltd. Toronto: J. M. DENT & SONS, Ltd. Tokyo: THE MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA

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Cambridge: at the University Press 1918

First Edition, 1912 Reprinted 1918

With the exception of the coat of arms at the foot, the design on the title page is a reproduction of one used by the earliest known Cambridge printer, John Siberch, 1521.


In this picture the schoolboy is seen arriving with his satchel and being presented with a hornbook by Nicostrata, the Latin muse Carmentis, who changed the Greek alphabet into the Latin. She admits him by the key of congruitas to the House of Wisdom ("Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars," Proverbs ix. 1). In the lowest story he begins his course in Donatus under a Bachelor of Arts armed with the birch; in the next he is promoted to Priscian. Then follow the other subjects of the Trivium and the Quadrivium each subject being represented by its chief exponent—logic by Aristotle, arithmetic by Boethius, geometry by Euclid, etc. Ptolemy, the philosopher, who represents astronomy, is confused with the kings of the same name. Pliny and Seneca represent the more advanced study of physical and of moral science respectively, and the edifice is crowned by Theology, the long and arduous course for which followed that of the Arts. Its representative in a medieval treatise is naturally Peter Lombard.


I wish to express my obligations to many recent writers on University history, and to the editors of University Statutes and other records, from which my illustrations of medieval student life have been derived. I owe special gratitude to Dr Hastings Rashdall, Fellow of New College and Canon of Hereford, my indebtedness to whose great work, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, is apparent throughout the following pages. Dr Rashdall has been good enough to read my proof-sheets, and to make valuable criticisms and suggestions, and the Master of Emmanuel has rendered me a similar service.

R. S. R. 23rd January 1912.



Chaucer and the Medieval Student — The Great Period of University-Founding — The words "Universitas," "Collegium," "Studium Generale" — Bologna — Growth of Studia Generalia — Paris, Oxford, Cambridge — Definition of "Universitas"..... 1


Student-Guilds at Bologna — "Nations" — The College of Doctors — Relations with the City — Position of an English Law Student at Bologna, and his relations to his Nation and his Universitas — The Office of Rector — Powers of the University over Citizens — The Degradation of the Bologna Masters — Examinations — The Doctorate — Regulations — Padua — Limitations of the Rector's Powers at Florence — Spanish Universities — Married Dons.......................... 13


Early History of the University of Paris — Faculties — "Nations" — Struggle with the Chancellor — Position of the Rector — Oxford —"Nations" — The Proctors — University Jurisdiction — Germany — Scotland........................... 41


Origin of the College System — Merton — Imitations of the Merton Rule — New College — Increase in Number of Regulations —Latin-Speaking — Conversation in Hall — Meals — College Rooms — Amusements — Penalties — Introduction of Corporal Punishment —The Tonsure — Attendance at Chapel — Vacations — Hospitality — The Career of an English Student — Meaning of "Poor and Indigent Scholars" — The College System at Paris — Sconcing — Other French Universities — A Visitation of a Medieval College............ 49


Growth of Disciplinary Regulations at Paris and Oxford —Records of the Chancellor's Court — Discipline in Unendowed Halls — Academic Dress restricted to Graduates — Louvain — Leipsic — Leniency of Punishments — The Scottish Universities — Table Manners at Aberdeen — Life at Heidelberg......................................... 94


Admission of the Bajan at Paris — The Universities of Southern France — The Abbas Bejanorum — The "Jocund Advent" in Germany — the "Depositio" — Oxford — Scotland.. 109


Vienna — St Scholastica's Day at Oxford — Assaults by Members of the University — Records of the "Acta Rectorum" at Leipsic — Parisian Scholars and the Monks of St Germain.. 124


Instruction given in Latin — Preparation for the University —Grammar Masters — French taught at Oxford — The "Act" in Grammar —The Seven Liberal Arts and the Three Philosophies — Text-books — Ordinary and Cursory Lectures — Methods of Lecturing — Repetitions and Disputations — University and College Teaching — Examinations at Paris, Louvain, and Oxford — The Determining Feast — Walter Paston at Oxford... 133

APPENDIX..................................................... 157

BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................. 159

INDEX........................................................ 163




"A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also, That unto logik hadde longe y-go As lene was his hors as is a rake, And he was not right fat, I undertake; But loked holwe, and therto soberly, Ful thredbar was his overest courtepy, For he had geten him yet no benefyce, Ne was so worldly for to have offyce. For him was lever have at his beddes heed Twenty bokes, clad in blak or reed, Of Aristotle and his philosophye, Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrye. But al be that he was a philosophre, Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre; But al that he might of his freendes hente, On bokes and on lerninge he it spente, And bisily gan for the soules preye Of hem that yaf him wherwith to scoleye, Of studie took he most cure and most hede, Noght o word spak he more than was nede, And that was seyd in forme and reverence And short and quik, and ful of hy sentence. Souninge in moral vertu was his speche. And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche."

An account of life in the medieval University might well take the (p. 002) form of a commentary upon the classical description of a medieval English student. His dress, the character of his studies and the nature of his materials, the hardships and the natural ambitions of his scholar's life, his obligations to founders and benefactors, suggest learned expositions which might

in judicious hands Extend from here to Mesopotamy,

and will serve for a modest attempt to picture the environment of one of the Canterbury pilgrims.

Chaucer's famous lines do more than afford opportunities of explanation and comment; they give us an indication of the place assigned to universities and their students by English public opinion in the later Middle Ages. The monk of the "Prologue" is simply a country gentleman. No accusation of immorality is brought against him, but he is a jovial huntsman who likes the sound of the bridle jingling in the wind better than the call of the church bells, a lover of dogs and horses, of rich clothes and great feasts. The portrait of the friar is still less sympathetic; he is a frequenter of taverns, a devourer of widows' houses, a man of gross, perhaps of evil, life. The monk abandons his cloister and its rules, the friar despises the poor and the leper. The poet is making no socialistic attack upon the (p. 003) foundations of society, and no heretical onslaught upon the Church; he draws a portrait of two types of the English regular clergy. His description of two types of the English secular clergy forms an illuminating contrast. The noble verses, in which he tells of the virtues of the parish priest, certainly imply that the seculars also had their temptations and that they did not always resist them; but the fact remains that Chaucer chose as the representative of the parochial clergy one who

"wayted after no pompe and reverence, Ne maked him a spyced conscience, But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve, He taughte, but first he folwed it himselve."

The history of pious and charitable foundations is a vindication of the truth of the portraiture of the "Prologue." The foundation of a new monastery and the endowment of the friars had alike ceased to attract the benevolent donor, who was turning his attention to the universities, where secular clergy were numerous. The clerks of Oxford and Cambridge had succeeded to the place held by the monks, and, after them, by the friars, in the affection and the respect of the nation.

Outside the kingdom of England the fourteenth century was also a great period in the growth of universities and colleges, to which, all (p. 004) over Europe, privileges and endowments were granted by popes, emperors, kings, princes, bishops and municipalities. To attempt to indicate the various causes and conditions which, in different countries, led to the growth, in numbers and in wealth, of institutions for the pursuit of learning would be to wander from our special topic; but we may take the period from the middle of the fourteenth to the middle of the fifteenth century as that in which the medieval University made its greatest appeal to the imagination of the peoples of Europe. Its institutional forms had become definite, its terminology fixed, and the materials for a study of the life of the fourteenth century student are abundant. The conditions of student life varied, of course, with country and climate, and with the differences in the constitutions of individual universities and in their relations to Church and State. No single picture of the medieval student can be drawn, but it will be convenient to choose the second half of the fourteenth century, or the first half of the fifteenth, as the central point of our investigation.

We have already used technical terms, "University," "College," "Student," which require elucidation, and others will arise in the course of our inquiry. What is a University? At the present day a University is, in England, a corporation whose power of granting (p. 005) certain degrees is recognised by the State; but nothing of this is implied in the word "University." Its literal meaning is simply an association. Recent writers on University history have pointed out that Universitas vestra, in a letter addressed to a body of persons, means merely "the whole of you" and that the term was by no means restricted to learned bodies. It was frequently applied to municipal corporations; Dr Rashdall, in his learned work, tells us that it is used by medieval writers in addressing "all faithful Christian people," and he quotes an instance in which Pisan captives at Genoa in the end of the thirteenth century formed themselves into a "Universitas carceratorum." The word "College" affords us no further enlightenment. It, too, means literally a community or association, and, unlike the sister term University, it has never become restricted to a scholastic association. The Senators of the "College of Justice" are the judges of the Supreme Court in Scotland.

We must call in a third term to help us. In what we should describe as the early days of European universities, there came into use a phrase sometimes written as Studium Universale or Studium Commune, but more usually Studium Generale. It was used in much the same sense in which we speak of a University to-day, and a short sketch of its (p. 006) history is necessary for the solution of our problem.

The twelfth century produced in Europe a renewal of interest and a revival of learning, brought about partly by the influence of great thinkers like St Anselm and Abelard, and partly by the discovery of lost works of Aristotle. The impulse thus given to study resulted in an increase in the numbers of students, and students were naturally attracted to schools where masters and teachers possessed, or had left behind them, great names. At Bologna there was a great teacher of the Civil Law in the first quarter of the twelfth century, and a great writer on Canon Law lived there in the middle of the same century. To Bologna, therefore, there flocked students of law, though not of law alone. In the schools of Paris there were great masters of philosophy and theology to whom students crowded from all parts of Europe. Many of the foreign students at Paris were Englishmen, and when, at the time of Becket's quarrel with Henry II., the disputes between the sovereigns of England and France led to the recall of English students from the domain of their King's enemy, there grew up at Oxford a great school or Studium, which acquired something of the fame of Paris and Bologna. A struggle between the clerks who studied at Oxford and the people of the town broke out at the time of John's defiance of the (p. 007) Papacy, when the King outlawed the clergy of England, and this struggle led to the rise of a school at Cambridge. In Italy the institutions of the Studium at Bologna were copied at Modena, at Reggio, at Vicenza, at Arezzo, at Padua, and elsewhere, and in 1244 or 1245 Pope Innocent IV. founded a Studium of a different constitution, in dependence upon the Papal Court. In Spain great schools grew up at Palencia, Salamanca, and Valladolid; in France at Montpellier, Orleans, Angers, and Toulouse, and at Lyons and Reims. The impulse given by Bologna and Paris was thus leading to the foundation of new Studia or the development of old ones, for there were schools of repute at many of the places we have mentioned before the period with which we are now dealing (c. 1170-1250). It was inevitable that there should be a rivalry among these numerous schools, a rivalry which was accentuated as small and insignificant Studia came to claim for themselves equality of status with their older and greater contemporaries. Thus, in the latter half of the thirteenth century, there arose a necessity for a definition and a restriction of the term Studium Generale. The desirability of a definition was enhanced by the practice of granting to ecclesiastics dispensations from residence in their benefices for purposes of study; to prevent abuses it was essential that such permission should be limited to a number of (p. 008) recognised Studia Generalia.

The difficulty of enforcing such a definition throughout almost the whole of Europe might seem likely to be great, but in point of fact it was inconsiderable. In the first half of the thirteenth century, the term Studium Generale was assuming recognised significance; a school which aspired to the name must not be restricted to natives of a particular town or country, it must have a number of masters, and it must teach not only the Seven Liberal Arts (of which we shall have to speak later), but also one or more of the higher studies of Theology, Law and Medicine (cf. Rashdall, vol. i. p. 9). But the title might still be adopted at will by ambitious schools, and the intervention of the great potentates of Europe was required to provide a mechanism for the differentiation of General from Particular Studia. Already, in the twelfth century, an Emperor and a Pope had given special privileges to students at Bologna and other Lombard towns, and a King of France had conferred privileges upon the scholars of Paris. In 1224 the Studium Generale of Naples was founded by the Emperor Frederick II., and in 1231 he gave a great privilege to the School of Medicine at Salerno, a Studium which was much more ancient than Bologna, but which existed solely for the study of Medicine and exerted no influence upon the (p. 009) growth of the European universities. Pope Gregory IX. founded the Studium at Toulouse some fifteen years before Innocent IV. established the Studium of the Roman Court. In 1254 Alfonso the Wise of Castile founded the Studium Generale of Salamanca. Thus it became usual for a school which claimed the status of a Studium Generale to possess the authority of Pope or Emperor or King.

A distinction gradually arose between a Studium Generale under the authority of a Pope or an Emperor and one which was founded by a King or a City Republic, and which was known as a Studium Generale respectu regni. The distinction was founded upon the power of the Emperor or the Pope to grant the jus ubique docendi. This privilege, which could be conferred by no lesser potentate, gave a master in one Studium Generale the right of teaching in any other; it was more valuable in theory than in practice, but it was held in such esteem that in 1292 Bologna and Paris accepted the privilege from Pope Nicholas IV. Some of the Studia which we have mentioned as existing in the first half of the thirteenth century—Modena in Italy, and Lyons and Reims in France—never obtained this privilege, and as their organisation and their importance did not justify their inclusion among Studia Generalia, they never took rank among the universities of Europe. The status of Bologna and of Paris was, of course, (p. 010) universally recognised before and apart from the Bulls of Nicholas IV.; Padua did not accept a Papal grant until 1346 and then merely as a confirmation, not a creation, of its privileges as a Studium Generale; Oxford never received, though it twice asked for, a declaratory or confirmatory Bull, and based its claim upon immemorial custom and its own great position. Cambridge, which in the thirteenth century was a much less important seat of learning than Oxford, was formally recognised as a Studium Generale by Pope John XXII. in 1318; but its claim to the title had long been admitted, at all events within the realm of England. After 1318 Cambridge could grant the licentia ubique docendi, which Oxford did not formally confer, although Oxford men, as the graduates of a Studium Generale, certainly possessed the privilege.

Long before the definition of a Studium Generale as a school possessing, by the gift of Pope or Emperor, the jus ubique docendi, was generally accepted throughout Europe, we find the occurrence of the more familiar term, "Universitas," which we are now in a position to understand.

A Universitas was an association in the world of learning which corresponded to a Guild in the world of commerce, a union among men living in a Studium and possessing some common interests to protect and advance. Originally, a Universitas could exist in a less (p. 011) important school than a Studium Generale, but with exceptional instances of this kind we are not concerned. By the time which we have chosen for the central point of our survey, the importance of these guilds or Universitates had so greatly increased that the word "Universitas" was coming to be equivalent to "Studium Generale." In the fifteenth century, Dr Rashdall tells us, the two terms were synonymous. The Universitas Studii, the guild of the School, became, technically and officially, the Studium Generale itself, and Studia Generalia were distinguished by the kind of Universitates or guilds which they possessed. It is usual to speak of Bologna and Paris as the two great archetypal universities, and this description does not depend upon mere priority of date or upon the impetus given to thought and interest in Europe by their teachers or their methods. Bologna and Paris were two Studia Generalia with two different and irreconcilable types of Universitas. The Universitates of the Studium of Bologna were guilds of students; the Universitas of the Studium of Paris was a guild of masters. The great seats of learning in Medieval Europe were either universities of students or universities of masters, imitations of Bologna or of Paris, or modifications of one or the other or of both. It would be impossible to draw up a list and divide medieval (p. 012) universities into compartments. Nothing is more difficult to classify than the constitutions of living societies; a constitution which one man might regard as a modification of the constitution of Bologna would be in the opinion of another more correctly described as a modification of the constitution of Paris, and a development in the constitution of a University might be held to have altered its fundamental position and to transfer it from one class to another.

Where students legislated for themselves, their rules were neither numerous nor detailed. Our information about life in the student-universities is, therefore, comparatively small, and it is with the universities of masters that we shall be chiefly concerned. It is, however, essential to understand the powers acquired by the student-guilds at Bologna, the institutions of which were reproduced by most of the Italian universities, by those of Spain and Portugal, and, much less accurately, by the smaller universities of France.

CHAPTER II (p. 013)


The Universitates or guilds which were formed in the Studium Generale of Bologna were associations of foreign students. The lack of political unity in the Italian peninsula was one of the circumstances that led to the peculiar and characteristic constitution evolved by the Italian universities. A famous Studium in an Italian city state must of necessity attract a large proportion of foreign students. These foreign students had neither civil nor political rights; they were men "out of their own law," for whom the government under which they lived made small and uncertain provision. Their strength lay in their numbers, and in the effect which their presence produced upon the prosperity and the reputation of the town. They early recognised the necessity of union if full use was to be made of the offensive and defensive weapons they possessed. The men who came to study law at Bologna were not schoolboys; some of them were beneficed ecclesiastics, others were lawyers, and most of them were possessed of adequate means of living. The provisions of Roman Law favoured the creation of such protective guilds; the privileges and immunities of the clergy (p. 014) afforded an analogy for the claim of foreign students to possess laws of their own; and the threat of the secession of a large community was likely to render a city state amenable to argument. The growth of guilds or communities held together by common interests and safeguarded by solemn oaths is one of the features of European history of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the students of Bologna took no unusual or extra-ordinary step when they formed their Universitates.

The distinction of students into "Nations," which is still preserved in some of the Scottish universities, is derived from this guild-forming movement at Bologna at the end of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century. No citizen of Bologna was permitted to be a member of a guild, the protection of which he did not require. The tendency at first was towards the formation of a number of Universitates, membership of which was decided by considerations of nationality. But the conditions which had led to the formation of these Universitates were also likely to produce some measure of unification, and the law-students at Bologna soon ceased to have more than two great guilds, distinguished on geographical principles as the Universitas Citramontanorum and the Universitas Ultramontanorum. Each was sub-divided into nations; the cis-Alpine (p. 015) University consisting of Lombards, Tuscans, and Romans, and the trans-Alpine University of a varying number, including a Spanish, a Gascon, a Provencal, a Norman, and an English nation. The three cis-Alpine nations were, of course, much more populous at Bologna than the dozen or more trans-Alpine nations, and they were therefore sub-divided into sections known as Consiliariae. The students of Arts and Medicine, who at first possessed no organisation of their own and were under the control of the great law-guilds, succeeded in the fourteenth century in establishing a new Universitas within the Studium. The influence of Medicine predominated, for the Arts course was, at Bologna, regarded as merely a preparation for the study of Law and, especially, of Medicine; but this third Universitas gave a definite status and definite rights to the students of Arts. In the same century the two jurist universities came to act together so constantly that they were, for practical purposes, united, so that, by the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Studium Generale of Bologna contained virtually two universities, one of Law, and the other of Arts and Medicine, governed by freely-elected rectors. The peculiar relations of Theology to the Studium and to the universities is a topic which belongs to constitutional history, and not to our (p. 016) special subject.

The universities of Bologna had to maintain a struggle with two other organisations, the guilds of masters and the authorities of this city state. They kept the first in subjection; they ultimately succumbed to the second. A guild of masters, doctors, or professors had existed in the Studium before the rise of the Universitates, and it survived with limited, but clearly defined, powers. The words "Doctor," "Professor," and "Magister" or "Dominus" were at first used indifferently, and a Master of Arts of a Scottish or a German University is still described on his diploma as a Doctor of Philosophy. The term "Master" was little used at Bologna, but it is convenient to employ "master" and "student" as the general terms for teacher and taught. The masters were the teachers of the Studium, and they protected their own interests by forming a guild the members of which, and they alone, had the right to teach. Graduation was originally admission into the guild of masters, and the chief privilege attached to it was the right to teach. This privilege ultimately became merely a theoretical right at Bologna, where the teachers tended to become a close corporation of professors, like the Senatus of a Scottish University.

The Guild or College of Masters who taught law in the Studium of (p. 017) Bologna naturally resented the rise of the universities of students. The doctors, they said, should elect the rectors, as they do at Paris. The scholars follow no trade, they are merely the pupils of those who do practise a profession, and they have no right to choose rulers for themselves any more than the apprentices of the skinners. The masters were citizens of Bologna, and it might be expected that the State would assist them in their struggle with a body of foreign apprentices; but the threat of migration turned the scales in favour of the students. There were no buildings and no endowments to render a migration difficult, and migration did from time to time take place. The masters themselves were dependent upon fees for their livelihood; they were, at Bologna, frequently laymen with no benefice to fall back upon, and with wives and children to maintain. As time went on and the teaching masters became a limited number of professors, they were given salaries, at first by the student-universities themselves and afterwards by the city, which feared to offend the student-universities. They thus passed, to a large extent, under the control of the universities; how far, we shall see as our story progresses. The city authorities tried ineffectually to curb the universities and to prevent migrations, but the students, with the support of the Papacy, succeeded in maintaining the strength of their organisations, and (p. 018) when, in the middle of the fourteenth century, secessions from Bologna came to an end, the students had obtained the recognition and most of the privileges they desired. In course of time the authority of the State increased at Bologna and elsewhere, bodies of Reformatores Studii came to be appointed by republics or tyrants in Italian university cities, and these boards gradually absorbed the government of the universities. The foundation of residential colleges, and the erection of buildings by the universities themselves, deprived the students of the possibility of reviving the long disused weapon of a migration, and when the power of the Papacy became supreme in Bologna, the freedom of its student-universities came to an end. This, however, belongs to a later age. We must now attempt to obtain some picture of the life of a medieval student at Bologna during the greatness of the Universitates.

We will choose an Englishman who arrives at Bologna early in the fifteenth century to study law. He finds himself at once a member of the English nation of the Trans-montane University; he pays his fee, takes the oath of obedience to the Rector, and his name is placed upon the "matricula" or roll of members of the University. He does not look about for a lodging-house, like a modern student in a Scottish University, but joins with some companions (socii) probably of (p. 019) his own nation, to take a house. If our new-comer had been a Spaniard, he might have been fortunate enough to find a place in the great Spanish College which had been founded in the latter half of the fourteenth century; as it is, he and his friends settle down almost as citizens of Bologna. The success of the universities in their attempt to form a citizenship outside the state had long ago resulted in the creation also of a semi-citizenship within the state. The laws of the city of Bologna allowed the students to be regarded as citizens so long as they were members of a University. Our young Englishman has, of course, no share in the government of the town, but he possesses all rights necessary for the protection of his person and property; he can make a legal will and bring an action against a citizen. The existence of these privileges, unusual and remarkable in a medieval state, may excite his curiosity about the method by which they were acquired, and he will probably be told strange and terrible tales of the bad old times when a foreign student was as helpless as any other foreigner in a strange town, and might be tortured by unfair and tyrannous judges. If he is historically minded, he will learn about the rise of the smaller guilds which are now amalgamated in his Universitas; how, like other guilds, they were benefit societies caring for the sick and the poor, burying the dead, and providing (p. 020) for common religious services and common feasts. He will be told (in language unfamiliar at Oxford) how the proctors or representatives of the guild were sent to cheer up the sick and, if necessary, to relieve their necessities, and to reconcile members who had quarrelled. The corporate payment for feasts included the cost of replacing broken windows, which (at all events among the German students at Bologna) seem to have been associated with occasions of rejoicing. The guild would pay for the release of one of its members who was in prison, but it would also insist upon the payment of the debts, even of those who had "gone down." It was essential that the credit of the guild with the citizens of Bologna should be maintained.

Many of these purposes were still served by the "nation" to which our Bologna freshman belonged: but the really important organisation was that of his Universitas. One of his first duties might happen to be connected with the election of a new Rector. The title of the office was common in Italy and was the equivalent of the Podesta, or chief magistrate, of an Italian town. The choice of a new Rector would probably be limited, for the honour was costly, and the share of the fines which the Rector received could not nearly meet his expenses. As his jurisdiction included clerks, it was necessary, by the Canon (p. 021) Law, that he should have the tonsure, and be, at all events technically, a clerk. He could not belong to any religious order, his obligations to which might conflict with his duty to the Universitas, and the expense of the office made it desirable that he should be a beneficed clergyman who was dispensed from residence in his benefice; he could enter upon his duties at the age of twenty-four, and he was not necessarily a priest or even a deacon. Our freshman played a small part in the election. As a member of the English nation, he would help to choose a Consiliarius, who had a vote in the election, and who became one of the Rector's permanent Council. The dignity of the Rector's position would be impressed upon our novice by his senior contemporaries, who could boast that, if a Cardinal came to Bologna, he must yield precedence to the Rector, and the lesson would be emphasised by a great feast on the occasion of the solemn installation and possibly by a tournament and a dance, certainly by some more magnificent banquet than that given by a Rector of the University of Arts and Medicine. After our student's day there grew up a strange ceremony of tearing the robe of the new Rector and selling back the pieces to him, and statutes had to be passed prohibiting the acceptance of money for the fragments, although if any student succeeded in capturing the robe without injuring it, he might (p. 022) claim its redemption. The state and hospitality which the office entailed led to its being made compulsory to accept the offer of it, but this arrangement failed to maintain the ancient prestige of the Rectorship which, after the decline of the Universitates themselves, had outlived its usefulness.

Magnificent as was the position of the Rector of a Universitas, our young Englishman would soon discover that his Rector was only a constitutional sovereign. He had to observe the statutes and to consult his Council upon important questions. He had no power to dispense with the penalties imposed by the regulations, and for any mismanagement of the pecuniary affairs of the Universitas he was personally liable, when at the end of his period of office he had to meet a Committee and to render an account of his stewardship. He could sentence offending students to money fines, but he must have the consent of his Council before expelling them or declaring them subject to the ecclesiastical and social penalties of the perjured man. He claimed to try cases brought by students against townsmen, and about the time of our scholar's arrival, the town had admitted that he might try students accused of criminal offences forbidden by the University statutes, and had agreed to carry out his sentences. Too free a use of the secular arm would naturally lead to unpopularity and trouble; (p. 023) the spectacle of a student being handed over to the gaolers of the Podesta or of the Bishop can never have been pleasant in the eyes of a Universitas. Changes in the statutes of the University could not be made by the Rector; every twenty years eight "Statutarii" were appointed to revise the code, and alterations made at other times required the consent of the Congregation, which consisted of all students except citizens of Bologna and a few poor scholars who did not subscribe to the funds of the Universitas. By the time of which we are speaking, the two jurist-universities at Bologna met together in one Congregation, and if a Congregation happens to be held during our Englishman's residence at Bologna, he will find himself bound under serious penalties to attend its session, where he will mix on equal, terms with members of the Cismontane University, listening to, or taking part in, the debates (conducted in Latin) and throwing his black or white bean into the ballot box when a vote is necessary.

Although the city of Bologna never admitted the jurisdiction of a Universitas over citizens of the town, there were some classes of citizens whose trade or profession made them virtually its subjects. Landlords, stationers, and masters or doctors were in a peculiar relation to the universities, which did not fail to use their advantage to the uttermost. If our English student and his socii (p. 024) had any dispute about the rent of their house, there was a compulsory system of arbitration; if he found an error in a MS. which he had hired or purchased from a Bologna bookseller he was bound to report it to a University Board whose duty it was to inspect MSS. offered for sale or hire, and the bookseller would be ordered to pay a fine; he was protected from extortionate prices by a system which allowed the bookseller a fixed profit on a second-hand book. MSS. were freely reproduced by the booksellers' clerks, and were neither scarce nor unduly expensive, although elaborately illuminated MSS. were naturally very valuable. The landlords and the booksellers were kept in proper submission by threats of interdictio or privatio. A citizen who offended the University was debarred from all intercourse with students, who were strictly forbidden to hire his house or his books; if a townsman brought a "calumnious accusation" against a student, and disobeyed a rectorial command to desist, he and his children, to the third generation, and all their goods, were to lie under an interdict, "sine spe restitutionis."

Interdictio, or discommuning, was also the great weapon which might be employed against the masters of the Studium. The degradation of the masters was a gradual process, and it was never complete. The privileges given by Frederick Barbarossa to Lombard scholars in (p. 025) the middle of the twelfth century included a right of jurisdiction over their pupils, and a Papal Bull of the end of the century speaks of masters and scholars meeting together in congregations. The organisation of the Universitas ultimately confined membership of congregation to students, and the powers of the Rector rendered the magisterial jurisdiction merely nominal. The loss of their privileges is attributed by Canon Rashdall to the attitude they adopted in the early struggles between the municipality and the student-guilds. The doctors, who were citizens of Bologna, allied themselves, he says, "with the City against the students in the selfish effort to exclude from the substantial privileges of the Doctorate all but their own fellow-citizens.... It was through identifying themselves with the City rather than with the scholars that the Doctors of Bologna sank into their strange and undignified servitude to their own pupils." They made a further mistake in quarrelling with the town—the earliest migrations were migrations of professors—and when, in the middle of the thirteenth century, a permanent modus vivendi was arrived at between the city and the universities, the rights of the doctors received no consideration. Other citizens of Bologna were forbidden to take an oath of obedience to the rectors, but the masters, who, in theory, possessed rights of jurisdiction over their pupils, were, (p. 026) in fact, compelled by the universities to take this oath. Even those of them who received salaries from the town were not exempted. A doctor who refused to take a vow of obedience to the representative of his pupils had no means of collecting his lecture-fees, which remained of some importance even after the introduction of salaries, and he was liable to further punishment at the will of the Rector. The ultimate penalty was deprivatio, and when this sentence was pronounced, not only were the lectures of the offending doctor boycotted, but all social intercourse with him was forbidden; students must avoid his company in private as well as decline his ministrations in the Studium. His restoration could only be accomplished by a vote of the whole University solemnly assembled in Congregation.

The oath of obedience was not merely a constitutional weapon kept in reserve for occasional serious disputes; it affected the daily life of the Studium, and the masters were subject to numerous petty indignities, which could not fail to impress our English student if he was familiar with University life in his own country. He would see, with surprise, a doctor's lecture interrupted by the arrival of a University Bedel, as the debates of the House of Commons are interrupted by the arrival of Black Rod, and his instructor would maintain a reverent silence while the Rector's officer delivered some message from the (p. 027) University, or informed the professor of some new regulation. If the learned doctor "cut" a lecture, our student would find himself compelled to inform the authorities of the University, and he would hear of fines inflicted upon the doctors for absence, for lateness, for attracting too small an audience, for omitting portions of a subject or avoiding the elucidation of its difficulties, and for inattention while the "precepta" or "mandata" of the Rector were being read in the schools. He and his fellow-students might graciously grant their master a holiday, but the permission had to be confirmed by the Rector; if a lecture was prolonged a minute after the appointed time, the doctor found himself addressing empty benches. The humiliation of the master's position was increased by the fact that his pupils were always acting as spies upon him, and they were themselves liable to penalties for conniving at any infringement of the regulations on his part. At Bologna, even the privilege of teaching was, to a slight extent, shared by the doctors with their pupils. Lectures were divided into two classes, ordinary and extra-ordinary; the ordinary lectures were the duty of the doctors, but senior students (bachelors) were authorised by the Rector to share with the doctors the duty of giving extra-ordinary lectures. There were six chairs, endowed by the (p. 028) city, which were held by students, and the occupant of one of these was entitled to deliver ordinary lectures. Dr Rashdall finds the explanation of this anomaly in an incident in the fourteenth century history of Bologna, when the Tyrant of the City forbade the professors to teach. The student-chairs were rather endowments for the Rectorship or for poor scholars than serious rivals to the ordinary professorships, and the extra-ordinary lectures delivered by students or bachelors may be regarded as a kind of apprenticeship for future doctors.

There remained one department of the work of the Studium in which our Bologna student would find his masters supreme. The sacred right of examining still belonged to the teachers, even though the essential purpose of the examination was changed. The doctors of Bologna had succeeded in preserving the right to teach as a privilege of Bolognese citizens and even of restricting it, to some extent, to certain families, and the foreign student could not hope to become a professor of his own studium. But the prestige of the University rendered Bolognese students ambitious of the doctorate, and the doctorate had come to mean more than a mere licence to teach. This licence, which had originally been conferred by the doctors themselves, required, after the issue of a Papal Bull in 1219, the consent of the Archdeacon (p. 029) of Bologna, and the Papal grant of the jus ubique docendi in 1292 increased at once the importance of the mastership and of the authority of the Archdeacon, who came to be described as the Chancellor and Head of the Studium. "Graduation," in Dr Rashdall's words, "ceased to imply the mere admission into a private Society of teachers, and bestowed a definite legal status in the eyes of Church and State alike.... The Universities passed from merely local into ecumenical organisations; the Doctorate became an order of intellectual nobility with as distinct and definite a place in the hierarchical system of medieval Christendom as the Priesthood or the Knighthood." The Archdeacon of Bologna, even when he was regarded as the Chancellor, did not wrest from the college of doctors the right to decide who should be deemed worthy of a title which Cardinals were pleased to possess. The licence which he required before admitting a student to the doctorate continued to be conferred by the Bologna doctors after due examination.

We will assume that our English student has now completed his course of study. He has duly attended the prescribed lectures—not less than three a week. He has gone in the early mornings, when the bell at St Peter's Church was ringing for mass, to spend some two hours listening to the "ordinary" lecture delivered by a doctor in his own house (p. 030) or in a hired room; his successors a generation or two later would find buildings erected by the University for the purpose. The rest of his morning and an hour or two in the afternoon have also, if he is an industrious student, been devoted to lectures, and he has not been neglectful of private study. He has enjoyed the numerous holidays afforded by the Feasts of the Church, and several vacations in the course of the year, including ten days at Christmas, a fortnight at Easter, and about six weeks in the autumn. After five years of study, if he is a civilian, and four if he is a canonist, the Rector has raised him to the dignity of a Bachelor by permitting him to give "extra-ordinary" lectures—and after two more years spent in this capacity he is ready to proceed to the doctorate. The Rector, having been satisfied by the English representative in his Council that the "doctorand" has performed the whole duty of the Bolognese student, gives him permission to enter for the first or Private Examination, and he again takes the oath of obedience to that dignitary. The doctor under whom he has studied vouches for his competence, and presents him first to the Archdeacon and some days afterwards to the College of Doctors, before whom he takes a solemn oath never to seek admittance into the Bolognese College of Doctors, or to teach, or attempt to perform any of the functions of a doctor, at Bologna. They then (p. 031) give him a passage for exposition and send him home. He is followed to his house by his own doctor who hears his exposition in private, and brings him back to the august presence of the College of Doctors and the Archdeacon. Here he treats his thesis and is examined upon it by two or more doctors, who are ordered by the University statutes not to treat any victim of this rigorous and tremendous examination otherwise than if he were their own son, and are threatened with grave penalties, including suspension for a year. The College then votes upon his case, each doctor saying openly and clearly, and without any qualification, "Approbo" or "Reprobo," and if the decision is favourable he is now a Licentiate and has to face only the expensive but not otherwise formidable ordeal of the second or Public Examination. As a newly appointed Scottish judge is, to this day, admitted to his office by trying cases, so the Bologna doctor was admitted to his new dignity by an exercise in lecturing. The idea is common to many medieval institutions, and it survived at Bologna, even though the licentiate had, at his private examination, renounced the right of teaching. Our Englishman and his socii go together to the Cathedral, where he states a thesis and defends it against the attacks of other licentiates. His own doctor, known in Bologna (and elsewhere) as the Promoter, (p. 032) presents him to the Chancellor, who confers upon him the jus ubique docendi. He is then seated in a master's chair, and the Promotor gives him an open book and a gold ring and (in the terminology of a modern Scottish University) "caps" him with the biretta. He is dismissed with a benediction and the kiss of peace, and is conducted through the town, in triumphal procession, by his friends, to whom he gives a feast.

The feast adds very considerably to the expenses of the doctorate, for which fees are, of course, exacted by the authorities of the University, the College of Doctors, and the Archdeacon. A considerable proportion of the disciplinary regulations, made by the student-universities, aimed at restricting the expenditure on feasting at the inception of a new doctor and on other occasions. When our young English Doctorand received the permission of his Rector to proceed to his degree, he was made to promise not to exceed the proper expenditure on fees and feasts, and he was expressly forbidden to organise a tournament. The spending of money on extravagant costume was also prohibited by the statutes of the University, which forbade a student to purchase, either directly or through an agent, any costume other than the ordinary black garment, or any outer covering other than the black cappa or gabard. Other disciplinary restrictions at (p. 033) Bologna dealt with quarrelling and gambling. The debates of Congregation were not to be liable to interruption by one student stabbing his opponent in Italian fashion, and no one was allowed to carry arms to a meeting of Congregation; if a student had reason to apprehend personal violence from another, the Rector could give him a dispensation from the necessity of attendance. Gaming and borrowing from unauthorised money-lenders were strictly forbidden; to enter a gaming-house, or to keep one, or to watch a game of dice was strictly forbidden. The University of Arts and Medicine granted a dispensation for three days at Christmas, and a Rector might use his own discretion in the matter. The penalties were fines, and for contumacy or grave offences, suspension or expulsion.

There are indications that the conduct of the doctors in these respects was not above suspicion; they were expressly prohibited from keeping gaming-houses; and the appointment of four merchants of the town, who alone were empowered to lend money to students, was a protection not only against ordinary usurers, but also against doctors who lent money to students in order to attract them to their lectures. That the ignominious position of the Bologna doctors had an evil effect upon their morals, is evident not only from this, but also from the existence of bribery, in connection with examinations for the (p. 034) doctorate, although corruption of this kind was not confined to the student-universities.

The regulations of the greatest of the residential colleges of Bologna, the College of Spain, naturally interfere much more with individual liberty than do the statutes of the student-universities, even though the government of the College was a democracy, based upon the democratic constitution of the University. We shall have an opportunity of referring to the discipline of the Spanish College when we deal with the College system in the northern universities, and meanwhile we pass to some illustrations of life in student-universities elsewhere than at Bologna.

At Padua we find a "Schools-peace" like the special peace of the highway or the market in medieval England; special penalties were prescribed for attacks on scholars in the Schools, or going to or returning from the Schools at the accustomed hours. The presence of the Rector also made a slight attack count as an "atrocious injury." The University threatened to interdict, for ten years, the ten houses nearest to the place where a scholar was killed; if he was wounded the period was four or six years. At Florence, where the Faculty of Medicine was very important, there is an interesting provision for the study of anatomy. An agreement was made with the town, by which (p. 035) the students of Medicine were to have two corpses every year, one male and one female. The bodies were to be those of malefactors, who gained, to some extent, by the arrangement, for the woman's penalty was to be changed from burning, and the man's from decapitation, to hanging. A pathetic clause provides that the criminals are not to be natives of Florence, but of captive race, with few friends or relations. If the number of medical students increased, they were to have two male bodies. At Florence, as almost everywhere, we find regulations against gambling, but an exception was made for the Kalends of May and the days immediately before and after, and no penalty could be inflicted for gambling in the house of the Rector. The records, of Florence afford an illustration of the checks upon the rectorial power, to which we have referred in speaking of the typical Student-University at Bologna. In 1433, a series of complaints were brought against a certain Hieronimus who had just completed his year of office as Rector, and a Syndicate, consisting of a Doctor of Decrees (who was also a scholar in civil law), a scholar in Canon Law, and a scholar in Medicine, was appointed to inquire into the conduct of the late Rector and of his two Camerarii. The accusations were both general and personal, and the Syndics, after deciding that (p. 036) Hieronimus must restore eight silver grossi of University money which he had appropriated, proceeded to hear the charges brought by individuals. A lecturer in the University complained that the Rector had unjustly and maliciously given a sentence against him and in favour of a Greek residing at Florence, and that he had unjustly declared him perjured; fifty gold florins were awarded as damages for this and some other injuries. A doctor of Arts and Medicine obtained a judgment for two florins for expenses incurred when the Rector was in his house. A student complained that he had been denounced as "infamis" in all the Schools for not paying his matriculation-fee, and that his name had been entered in the book called the "Speculum." The Syndics ordered the record of his punishment to be erased. The most interesting case is that of student of Civil Law, called Andreas Romuli de Lancisca. He averred that he had sold Hieronimus six measures of grain, to be paid for at the customary price. After four months' delay, the Rector paid seven pounds, and when asked to complete the payment, gave Andreas a book of medicine, "for which I got five florins." Some days later he demanded the return of the book, to which Andreas replied: "Date mihi residuum et libenter restituam librum." To this request the Rector, "in superbiam elevatus," answered, "Tu reddes librum et non solvam tibi." The quarrel continued, and (p. 037) one morning, when Andreas was in the Schools at a lecture, Hieronimus sent the servant of the Podesta, who seized him "ignominiose et vituperose" in the Schools and conducted him to the town prison like a common thief. For all these injuries Andreas craved redress and a sum of forty florins. The damages, he thought, should be high, not merely for his personal wrongs, but also for the insult to the scholar's dress which he wore, and, indeed, to the whole University. He was allowed twenty pounds in addition to the sum due for the grain. The Syndicate of 1433 must have been an extreme case; matters were complicated by the fact that the Rector's brother was "Executor Ordinamentorum Justitiae Civitatis Florentiae," and he was therefore suspected of playing into the hands of the city. But the knowledge that such an investigation was possible must have restrained the arbitrary tendencies of a Rector.

A reference to the imitation of the Bolognese constitution in Spain must close this portion of our survey. At Lerida, in the earliest code of statutes (about 1300), we find the doctors and master sworn to obey the Rector, who can fine them, though he must not expel them without the consent of the whole University. Any improper criticisms of the Rector ("verba injuriosa vel contumeliosa") by anyone, of whatsoever (p. 038) dignity, are to be punished by suspension until satisfaction is made, and so great is the glory of the office ("Rectoris officium tanta [excellentia] praefulget") that an ex-Rector is not bound to take the oath to his successor. The regulations affecting undergraduates are more detailed than at Bologna, and indicate a stricter discipline. After eight days' attendance at a doctor's lecture, a student must not forsake it to go to another doctor; no scholar is to go to the School on horseback unless for some urgent cause; scholars are not to give anything to actors or jesters or other "truffatores" (troubadours), nor to invite them to meals, except on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, or at the election of a Rector, or when doctors or masters are created. Even on these occasions only food may be given, although an ordinance of the second Rector allows doctors and masters to give them money. No students, except boys under fourteen, are to be allowed to play at ball in the city on St Nicholas' day or St Katherine's day, and none are to indulge in unbecoming amusements, or to walk about dressed up as Jews or Saracens—a rule which is also found in the statutes of the University of Perpignan. If scholars are found bearing arms by day in the students' quarter of the town, they are to forfeit their arms, and if they are found at night with either arms or musical instruments in the students' quarter, they are to (p. 039) forfeit arms or instruments. If they are found outside their own quarters, by night or by day, with arms or musical instruments, the town officials will deal with laymen, and the Bishop or the Rector with clerks. Laymen might be either students or doctors in Spain as in Italy; at Salamanca, a lecturer's marriage was included among the necessary causes which excused a temporary absence from his duties. In the universities of Southern France, the marriage of resident doctors and students was also contemplated, and the statutes of the University of Aix contain a table of charges payable as "charivari" by a rector, a doctor, a licentiate, a bachelor, a student, and a bedel. In each case the amount payable for marrying a widow was double the ordinary fee. If the bridegroom declined to pay, the "dominus promotor," accompanied by "dominis studentibus," was, by permission of the Rector, to go to his house armed with frying-pans, bassoons, and horns, and to make a great tumult, without, however, doing any injury to his neighbours. Continued recusancy was to be punished by placing filth outside the culprit's door on feast-days. In the University of Dole, there was a married Rector in 1485, but this was by a special dispensation. There are traces of the existence of married undergraduates at Oxford in the fifteenth century, and, in the (p. 040) same century, marriage was permitted in the Faculty of Medicine at Paris, but the insistence upon celibacy in the northern universities is one of the characteristic differences between them and the universities of Southern Europe.

CHAPTER III (p. 041)


The Guild or Universitas which grew up in the Studium Generale of Paris was a Society of masters, not of students. The Studium Generale was, in origin, connected with the Cathedral Schools, and recognition as a Master was granted by the Chancellor of the Cathedral, whose duty it was to confer it upon every competent scholar who asked for it. The successful applicant was admitted by the existing masters into their Society, and this admission or inception was the origin of degrees in the University of Paris. The date of the growth of an organised Guild is uncertain; Dr Rashdall, after a survey of the evidence, concludes that "it is a fairly safe inference that the period 1150-1170—probably the latter years of that period—saw the birth of the University of Paris." Such organisation as existed in the twelfth century was slight and customary, depending, as the student-universities of Bologna and in other medieval guilds, upon no external authority. The successors of these early masters, writing in the middle of the thirteenth century, relate how their predecessors, men reverend in character (p. 042) and famous for learning, decided, as the number of their pupils increased, that they could do their work better if they became a united body, and that they therefore formed themselves into a College or University, on which Church and State conferred many privileges. The bond of union they describe as a "jus speciale" ("si quodam essent juris specialis vinculo sociati"), and this conception explains the appearance of their earliest code of statutes in the first decade of the thirteenth century. The Guild of masters, at Paris, like the Guild of students at Bologna, could use with advantage the threat of a migration, and, after a violent quarrel with the town in the year 1200, they received special privileges from Philip Augustus. Some years later, Pope Innocent III. permitted the "scholars of Paris" to elect a procurator or proctor to represent their interests in law-suits at Rome. Litigation at Rome was connected with disputes with the Chancellor of the Cathedral. Already the scholars of Paris had complained to the Pope about the tyranny of the Chancellor, and Innocent had supported their cause, remarking that when he himself studied at Paris he had never heard of scholars being treated in this fashion. It moved and astonished the Pope not a little that the Chancellor should attempt to exact an oath of obedience and payment of money from the masters, and, in the end, that official was (p. 043) compelled to give up his claim to demand fees or oaths of fealty or obedience for a licence to teach, and to relax any oaths that had already been taken. The masters, as Dr Rashdall points out, already possessed the weapon of boycotting, and ordering their students to boycott, a teacher upon whom the Chancellor conferred a licence against the wish of their guild, but they could not at first compel him to grant a licence to anyone whom they desired to admit. After the Papal intervention of 1212, the Chancellor was bound to licence a candidate recommended by the masters.

In the account of their own history, from which we have already quoted, the Parisian masters speak of their venerable "gignasium litterarum" as divided into four faculties, Theology, Law, Medicine, and Philosophy, and they compare the four streams of learning to the four rivers of Paradise. The largest and most important was the Faculty of Arts, and the masters of that Faculty were the protagonists in the struggle with the Chancellor, a struggle which continued long after the intervention of Innocent III. In the course of this long and successful conflict, the Faculty of Arts developed an internal organisation, consisting of four nations, distinguished as the French, the Normans, the Picards, and the English. Each nation elected a proctor, and the four proctors or other representatives of the (p. 044) nations elected a Rector, who was the Head of the Faculty of Arts. The division into nations and the title of Rector may have been copied from Bologna, but the organisation at Paris was essentially different. The Parisian nations were governed by masters, not by students, and whereas, at Bologna, the artists were an insignificant minority, at Paris, the Rector became, by the end of the thirteenth century, the most powerful official of the University, and, by the middle of the fourteenth, was recognised as its Head. The superior Faculties of Theology, Canon Law, and Medicine, though they possessed independent constitutions under their own Deans, consisted largely of men who had taken a Master's or a Bachelor's degree in Arts, and, from the middle of the thirteenth century, they took an oath to the Rector, which was held to be binding even after they became doctors. The non-artist members of these Faculties were not likely to be able to resist an authority whose existence was generally welcomed as the centre of the opposition to the Chancellor. Ultimately, the whole University passed under the sway of the Rector, and the power of the Chancellor was restricted to granting the jus ubique docendi as the representative of the Pope. Even this was little more than a formality, for the Chancellor "ceased," says Dr Rashdall, "to have any real control over the grant or refusal of Licences, except in so far as he retained (p. 045) the nomination of the Examiners in Arts."

At Oxford, the University was also a Guild of masters, but Oxford was not a cathedral city, and there was no conflict with the Bishop or the Chancellor. In the end of the twelfth or the beginning of the thirteenth century, the masters of the Studium probably elected a Rector or Head in imitation of the Parisian Chancellor. After the quarrel with the citizens, which led to the migration to Cambridge, and when King John had submitted to the Pope, the masters were able to obtain an ordinance from the Papal legate determining the punishment of the offenders, and providing against the recurrence of such incidents. The legate ordered that if the citizens should seize the person of a clerk, his surrender might be demanded by "the Bishop of Lincoln, or the Archdeacon of the place or his Official, or the Chancellor, or whomsoever the Bishop of Lincoln shall depute to this office." The clause lays stress upon the authority of the Bishop of Lincoln, which must in no way be diminished by any action of the townsmen. The ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop was welcomed by the University as a protection against the town, and the Chancellor was too far away from Lincoln to press the privileges of the Diocese or the Cathedral against the clerks who were under his special (p. 046) care. The Oxford Chancellor was a master of the Studium, and, though he was the representative of the Bishop, he was also the Head of the masters guild, and from very early times was elected by the masters. Thus he came to identify himself with the University, and his office increased in importance as privileges were conferred upon the University by kings and popes. No Rectorship grew up as a rival to the Chancellorship, though some of the functions of the Parisian Rector were performed at Oxford by the Proctors. There were only two "Nations" at Oxford, for the Oxford masters were, as a rule, Englishmen; men from north of the Trent formed the Northern Nation, and the rest of England the Southern Nation. Scotsmen were classed as Northerners, and Welshmen and Irishmen as Southerners. The division into Nations was short-lived, and the two Rectors or Proctors, though still distinguished as Northern and Southern, soon became representatives elected by the whole Faculty of Arts. As at Paris, the Faculty of Arts was the moving spirit in the University, and Theology, Law, and Medicine never developed at Oxford any independent organisation. The proctors, as Dr Rashdall has shown, thus became the Executive of the University as a whole, and not merely of the Faculty of Arts.

An essential difference between Bologna and its two great northern (p. 047) sisters lies in the fact that, at Paris and at Oxford, masters and scholars alike were all clerks, possessing the tonsure and wearing the clerical garb, though not necessarily even in minor orders. They could thus claim the privileges of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and at Oxford this jurisdiction was exercised by the Chancellor, who also, along with the proctors, was responsible for academic discipline and could settle disputes between members of the University. In this, the University of Oxford had a position of independence which Paris never achieved, for though the Parisian Rector's court dealt with cases of discipline and with internal disputes, criminal jurisdiction remained the prerogative of the Bishop. In the middle of the fourteenth century, royal grants of privileges to the University of Oxford culminated in the subjection of the city, and from the middle of the fifteenth "the burghers lived in their own town almost as the helots or subjects of a conquering people." (Cf. Rashdall, vol. ii. chap. 12, sec. 3). The constitution of Oxford was closely imitated at Cambridge, where the Head of the University was also the Chancellor, and the executive consisted of two rectors or proctors. In the fifteenth century the University freed itself from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ely.

Germany possessed no universities before the fourteenth century. (p. 048) Prague was founded in 1347-8, and was followed before 1400 by Vienna, Erfurt, Heidelberg, and Cologne, and in the first quarter of the next century by Wuerzburg, Leipsic, Rostock, and in the Low Countries by Louvain. The first Scottish University dates from the early years of the fifteenth century. While the provincial universities of France tended to follow Bologna rather than Paris as their model, the German universities approximated to the Parisian type, and although the founders of the Scottish universities were impressed by some of the conditions of the student-universities, and provided for them a theoretical place in their constitutions, yet the three medieval Scottish universities of Scotland, in their actual working, more nearly resembled the master type.

CHAPTER IV (p. 049)


We are now in a position to approach the main part of our subject—life in a medieval University of masters—and we propose to proceed at once to its most characteristic feature, life in a medieval College. The system originated in Paris. In the early days of the University, students at Paris lived freely in private houses, which a number of "socii" hired for themselves. A record of a dispute which occurred in 1336 shows that it was usual for one member of such a community to be responsible for the rent, "tanquam principalis dictae domus," and the member who was held to be responsible in the particular case is described as a "magister." At first it was not necessary that he should be a master, but this soon became usual, and ultimately (though not till the close of the Middle Ages) it was made compulsory by the University. Dr Rashdall has drawn attention to the democratic character of these Hospicia or Halls, the members of which elected their own principal and made the regulations which he enforced. This democratic constitution is found at Oxford as well as at Paris, and was, indeed, common to all the early universities. (p. 050) When a benevolent donor endowed one of these halls, he invariably gave it not only money, but regulations, and it was the existence of an endowment and of statutes imposed by an external authority that differentiated the College from the Hall. The earliest College founders did not necessarily erect any buildings for the scholars for whose welfare they provided; a College is essentially a society, and not a building. The quadrangular shape which is now associated with the buildings of a College was probably suggested accidentally by the development of Walter de Merton's College at Oxford; but, long after the foundation of Merton College in 1263 or 1264, it was not considered necessary by a founder to build a home for his scholars, who secured a suitable lodging-house (or houses) and were prepared to migrate should such a step become desirable in the interest of the University.

The statutes of Merton provide us with a picture of an endowed Hall at the period when such endowments were beginning to change the character of University life. The conception of a College, as distinguished from the older Halls, developed very rapidly, and the Founder's provisions for the organisation of his society were altered three times within ten years. In 1264, Walter de Merton, sometime Chancellor of England, (p. 051) drew up a code of statutes for the foundation of a house, to be called the House of the Scholars of Merton. His motive was the good of Holy Church and the safety of the souls of his benefactors and relations, and these objects were to be served by providing for the maintenance of twenty poor scholars and two or three priests in the schools of Oxford, or elsewhere, if learning should, in these days of civil war, flourish elsewhere than at Oxford. The endowment which he provided was to consist of his manors of Maldon and Farleigh, in Surrey, to which was added the Merton estate, at the end of what are now the "Backs" in Cambridge. This was purchased in 1269-70. The lands were given to his scholars, to be held under certain conditions, in their own name. His own kindred were to have the first claim upon places in the new Society, and, after them, natives of the diocese of Winchester; they were to have allowances of forty shillings each per annum, to live together in a Hall, and to wear uniform garb in token of unity and mutual love. As vacancies arose, by death, by admission into a religious order, by the acceptance of livings in the Church, or by appointments in other callings, they were to be filled up, and if the funds of the society permitted, the numbers, both of scholars and of priests, were to be increased. Scholars who proved to be incorrigibly idle, or who led evil lives, were to be deprived; but the sick and (p. 052) infirm were to be treated generously, and any of the Founder's kin who suffered from an incurable malady, and were incapable of earning an honest living in the Studium or elsewhere, were to be maintained till their death. It was assumed that the scholars had already received the preliminary training in Latin which was necessary for their studies, but provision was made for the elementary instruction of poor or orphan boys of the Founder's kin, until they were ready to enter the University. Once or twice a year all the members of the foundation were to meet and say mass for their Founder and his benefactors, living and dead. The management of the property was entrusted to a Warden, who was to reside not at Oxford or any other Studium where the Hall might happen to be, but at Maldon or Farleigh. The Warden was a member of the Society, but had no authority over the scholars, except that, in cases of disputed elections, he, or the Chancellor or Rector of the University where the Hall happened to be at the time, was to act on the advice of six or seven of the senior scholars, and the senior scholars, rather than the Warden, were looked upon by the founder as the natural leaders of his Society. Every year, eight or ten of the seniors were to go to Surrey to stay for eight days to inquire into the management of their property, and, if at any (p. 053) other time, evil rumours about the conduct of the Warden reached the Hall, two or three of them were to go to investigate. The scholars could, with the consent of the Patron, the Bishop of Winchester, bring about the deposition of the Warden, and elections to the Wardenship were entrusted to the twelve seniors. They were to consult the "brothers" who assisted the Warden at Merton, and were also to obtain the sanction of the Bishop of Winchester.

These first Merton statutes clearly contemplate an endowed Hall, differing from other Halls only in the existence of the endowment. Some regulations are necessary in order that the tenure of the property of the Society may be secure and that its funds may not be misapplied, and the brief code of statutes is directed to these ends. Walter de Merton's earliest rules make the minimum of change in existing conditions. But the preparation of this code of statutes must have suggested to the Founder that his generosity gave him the power of making more elaborate provisions. The Mendicant Orders had already established at Oxford and at Paris houses for their own members, and the Monastic Orders in France were following the example of the Friars. These houses were, of course, governed by minute and detailed regulations, and it may have seemed desirable to introduce some stricter discipline into the secular halls. At all events, in (p. 054) 1270, Walter de Merton took the opportunity of an increase in his endowments to issue a code of statutes more than twice as long as that of 1264. These new statutes mark a distinct advance in the Founder's ideal of College life. The Warden becomes a much more important factor in the conduct of the Hall as well as in the management of the property; in the election and in the expulsion of scholars he is given a greater place; his allowances are increased, and his presence at Oxford seems to be implied. The scholars are to proceed from Arts to Theology; four or five of them may be permitted to study the Canon Law, and the Warden may allow some of them to devote some time to the Civil Law. Two Sub-Wardens are to be appointed, one at Maldon and one in Oxford; Deans are to watch over the morals of the scholars, and senior students are to preside over the studies of the freshmen. The scholars are to be silent at meals and to listen to a reader; there must be no noise in their chambers, and a senior is to be in authority in each chamber, and to report breaches of regulations. Conversation is to be conducted in Latin.

We have here the beginnings of a new system of University life, and we can trace the tendency towards collegiate discipline still more clearly in the Founder's statutes of 1274, which are much longer and more elaborate than in 1270. The scholars or Fellows are now to (p. 055) obey the Warden, as their Superior; the Deans and the seniors in chambers are to bear rule under him and, in the first instance, to report to him; the Sub-Warden is to take his place in his absence and to assist him at other times; three Bursars are to help him in the management, of the property. The Patron or Visitor, may inquire into the conduct of the Warden or into any accusations brought against him, and has the power of depriving him of his office. The Warden is not an absolute sovereign; the thirteen seniors are associated with him in the government of the College, and the Sub-Warden and five seniors are to inspect his accounts once a year. At the periodical scrutinies, when the conduct of all the members of the College is to be examined, accusations can be brought against him and duly investigated. This custom, and others of Walter de Merton's regulations, were clearly borrowed from the rules of monastic houses, and a company of secular clerks seems to have had difficulty in realising that they were bound by them, for as early as 1284 the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had become the Visitor of the College, had to issue a series of orders for the observances of the statutes. The Warden and Fellows of Merton had permitted the study of medicine: they had interpreted too liberally the permission to study law; they had increased their own allowances (p. 056) and the salaries of their brewer and their cook; the Fellows had resisted the authority of the Warden; they had neglected the attendances at divine service enjoined by the Founder, and they had been lax about expulsions. The change which Walter de Merton had made in a scholar's life was so far-reaching that a secular would probably not have shared the astonishment of Archbishop Peckham (himself a friar) at the unwillingness of the Merton scholars to recognise the loss of their traditional freedom.

The system inaugurated by Walter de Merton was destined to have a great development. In the document of 1284, Peckham speaks of Merton as a "College," and its Founder was the founder of the Oxford College system. Although he repeated in his last statutes his permission to move his Society from Oxford, he regarded Oxford as its permanent home. Now that the civil war was over and England at peace, he had, he says, purchased a place of habitation and a house at Oxford, "where a University of students is flourishing." Not only had he provided a dwelling-place, he had also magnificently rebuilt a parish church to serve as a College-Chapel. The example he set was followed both at Oxford and at Cambridge, and the rule of Merton became the model on which College founders based elaborate codes of statutes. English founders generally followed Walter de Merton in making their (p. 057) societies self-governing communities, with an external Visitor as the ultimate court of appeal. There were in many colleges "poor boys" who were taught grammar, performed menial offices, and were not members, nor always eligible for election as members, of the Society; but as a general rule the Fellows or Socii all had a share in the management of the affairs of the House. Routine business was frequently managed by the Head, the officers, and a limited number of the Senior Fellows, but the whole body of Fellows took part in the election of a new Head. A period of probation, varying from one year to three, was generally prescribed before an entrant was admitted a "full and perpetual" Fellow, and during this period of probation he had no right of voting. This restriction was sometimes dispensed with in the case of "Founder's kin," who became full Fellows at once, and the late Sir Edward Wingfield used to boast that in his Freshman term (1850) he had twice voted in opposition to the Warden of New College in a College meeting. As in a monastic house, this freedom was combined with a strict rule of obedience, and though the Head of a medieval College might be irritated by incidents of this kind, he possessed great dignity and high authority within his domain. As founders did more for their students, they expected a larger obedience from them, and (p. 058) attempted to secure it by minute regulations; and the authority of the Head of the College increased with the number of rules which he was to enforce. The foundation of New College at Oxford in 1379 marks the completion of the collegiate ideal which had advanced so rapidly under the successive constitutions of Merton College a hundred years before. William of Wykeham, in providing for the needs of his scholars, availed himself of the experience of the past and created a new model for the future. The Fellows of New College were to be efficiently equipped at Winchester for the studies of the University, and, as we shall see, they were to receive in College special instruction in addition to the teaching of the University. Their magnificent home included, besides their living-rooms, a noble chapel and hall, a library, a garden, and a beautiful cloister for religious processions and for the burial of the dead. King Henry VI. built a still more magnificent house for his Cambridge scholars, and his example was followed by Henry VIII. The later College-founders, as we have said, expected obedience in proportion to their munificence, and the simpler statutes of earlier colleges were frequently revised and assimilated to those of later foundations. We reserve for a later section what we have to say about education, and deal here with habits and customs.

The Merton rule that conversation must be in Latin is generally (p. 059) found in College statutes. At Peterhouse, French might occasionally be spoken, should just and reasonable cause arise, but English very rarely. At New College, Latin was to be spoken even in the garden, though English might be used in addressing a layman. At Queen's College, Oxford, which was founded by a courtier, French was allowed as a regular alternative for Latin, and at Jesus College, Oxford, conversation might be in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew. In spite of the influence of the Renaissance, it seems unlikely that either Greek or Hebrew was much used as an alternative to Latin, but the Latin-speaking rule had become less rigid and in sixteenth-century statutes more generous provision is made for dispensations from it. The Latin rule was not merely an educational method; it was deliberately intended to be a check upon conversation. College founders accepted the apostolic maxim that the tongue worketh great evil, and they were convinced that a golden rule of silence was a protection against both ribaldry and quarrels. In the later statutes of Clare, the legislator recognises that not merely loss of time, but the creation of a disposition to be interested in trifles can be traced to "frequentes collocutiones," and he forbids any meetings in bedrooms (even meetings of Masters of Arts) for the purpose of feasting or of talking. If anyone wishes to (p. 060) receive a friend at dinner or supper, he must apply to the Master for leave, and such leave is to be very rarely given. Conversation in Hall was prohibited by the rule of silence and by the provision of a reader, which we have already found at Merton. The book read was almost invariably the Bible. William of Wykeham, who was followed in this, as in other respects, by later College founders, forbade his scholars to remain in Hall after dinner or supper, on the ground that they were likely to talk scandal and quarrel; but on great Feast days, when a fire was allowed in the Hall, they might sit round and indulge in canticles and in listening to poems and chronicles and "mundi hujus mirabilia." The words, of the statute (which reappear in those of later colleges) seem to imply that even on winter evenings a fire burned in the Hall only on Feast days, and the medieval student must have suffered severely from cold. There were, as a rule, no fireplaces in private rooms until the sixteenth century, when we find references to them, e.g. in the statutes of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; and the wooden shutters which took the place of windows shut out the scanty light of a winter day. When a Disputation (cf. p. 146) was held in Hall at night, a fire was lit, but we are not told how, when there was no Disputation or Colleges meeting, the medieval student spent the time between supper and the "nightcap" which accompanied (p. 061) Compline. Dinner was at ten in the morning and supper at six in the evening. Dr Caius, in the middle of the sixteenth century, ordered his students to be in bed by eight o'clock in the evening, and "early to bed" must have been the custom on winter nights in a medieval College. "Early to rise" was the stern law, even in the dark mornings, for the student's day began at six o'clock, and he must often have listened to lectures which commenced in the dark, although dawn overtook the lecturer before he finished his long exposition. In early times there was no provision for breakfast, and, though the existence of such a meal is distinctly contemplated in the statutes of Queen's College, Oxford, there is no hint of it in those of New College. Probably some informal meal was usual everywhere, and was either paid for privately or winked at by the authorities. The absence of any general provision for breakfast led to its being taken in private rooms and not in Hall, and this is the humble origin of the College breakfast party.

The number of occupants of a single room varied in different colleges. Special provision was made in later College statutes for the Head of the College; at New College he was given (for the first time) a separate establishment and an allowance of plate and kitchen utensils; he (p. 062) was to dine in Hall only on some twenty great Feasts of the Church, and to sit at a separate table on these occasions. Henry VI. followed this precedent at King's, and elsewhere we find that the Head of a College is to have "principalem mansionem" with garden and stabling for the horses, without which it was not becoming that he should travel on College business. It was generally the duty of the Head to apportion the rooms among other members of the College, and to see that the juniors were under proper supervision. At Peterhouse, and in many other colleges, there were to be two in each chamber. When William of Wykeham built on a large scale, he ordered that there should be four occupants in the ground-floor rooms and three in the first-floor rooms. At King's, the numbers were three in ground-floor rooms and two in first-floor rooms. At Magdalen, the numbers were the same as at New College, but two of the beds in the upper rooms and one in the lower were to be "lectuli rotales, Trookyll beddys vulgariter appellati." Separate beds were usually provided, though sometimes boys under fourteen or fifteen years of age were denied this luxury. The bedrooms were also studies; at Oxford there was no general sitting-room, except in monastic colleges, though Cambridge College statutes speak of a "parlura," corresponding to the modern parlour or combination room. Each of the occupants of a room in New College was the (p. 063) proprietor of a small window, at which he worked, probably at some "study" or desk like the old Winchester "toys." The rooms had four windows and four "studiorum loca," and the general type of a College chamber, after the foundation of New College, was a room with one large window, and two, three, or four small windows for "studies."

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