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History of the Christian Church, Volume V: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1049-1294.
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§ 88. Schools.


Literature: John of Salisbury: Metalogicus, Migne, 199. 823–946.—Guibert of Nogent: De vita sua, I. 4–7; Migne, 153. 843–850.—A. H. L. Heeren: Gesch. d. class. Lit. im MlA., 2 vols. Götting., 1822.—S. R. Maitland: The Dark Ages, Essays on the State of Rel. and Lit., 800–1200 a.d., Lond., 1845, 5th ed. 1890.—H. Heppe: D. Schulwesen d. MlA., etc., Marb., 1860.—Schaarschmidt: J. Saresberiensis (John of Salisbury), Leip., 1862.—Léon Maître: Les écoles épiscopales el monastiques de l’occident, 768–1180 a.d., Paris, 1866.—E. Michaud: G. de Champeaux et les écoles de Paris au 12e siècle, Paris, 1867.—J. B. Mullinger: The Schools of Chas. the Great, Lond., 1877; Hist. of the Univ. of Cambr. to 1535, Cambr., 1873.—*R. L. Poole: The School of Chartres, being chap. IV of his Illustr. of the Hist. of Med. Thought.—*F. A. Specht: Gesch. d. Unterrichtswesens in Deutschland von d. ältesten Zeiten bis zur Mitte des 13ten Jahrh., Stuttg., 1885.—*A. and G. Schmid: Gesch. d. Erziehung bis auf unsere Zeit, pp. 94–333, Stuttg., 1892.—Miss Drane: Christ. Schools and Scholars, Lond., 2d ed. 1881. —*J. E. Sandys: A Hist. of Class. Scholarship from 600 b.c. to the end of the M. A., Cambr., 1903.—Mirbt: Publizistik im Zeitalter Greg. VII., pp. 104 sqq.—Rashdall: Universities, vol. I.


Education and the advance of true religion are inseparable. The history of literary culture in this period is marked by the remarkable awakening which started in Western Europe in the latter part of the eleventh century and the rise of the universities in the twelfth century. The latter was one of the most important events in the progress of the intellectual development of the race. The renaissance of the eleventh century showed itself in a notable revival of interest in schools, in the appearance of eminent teachers, in a renewed study of the classics, and in an enlarged sweep of the human mind.

The municipal schools of the Roman Empire were swept away by the barbarian invasions of the fourth and fifth centuries, and few vestiges of them were left. The weight of opinion in the Church had been hostile to Pagan learning from the time of Tertullian and Jerome and culminated in Justinian’s act, closing the university of Athens. But it is doubtful whether the old Roman schools would have withstood the shock from the assaults of Goth, Vandal, and Hun, even had Church teachers been friendly to classical literature.

The schools of the earlier Middle Ages were associated with the convents and cathedrals, and it was not till the thirteenth century that the municipal school appeared again, and then it was in the far North, in Germany, and the Lowlands. The first name in the history of the new education is Cassian who founded the convent school of St. Victor, Marseilles, 404. But it was to Benedict of Nursia that Western Europe owed the permanent impulse to maintain schools. The Benedictine Rule made education an adjunct of religion, provided for the training of children by members of the order, and for the transcription of manuscripts. To the Benedictines, especially to the Cistercians, are our libraries indebted for the preservation of the works of classical and patristic writers.

The wise policy of Charlemagne in establishing the Palace school, a sort of normal school for the German Empire, and in issuing his Capitularies bearing on education, and the policy of Alfred in England, gave a fresh impulse to learning by the patronage of royalty. Alcuin at the court of Charlemagne, Asser in England, and John Scotus Erigena at the court of Charles the Bold, were some of the more eminent teachers. It is possible the education was not confined to clerics, for convents had two kinds of schools, the one, the interior, for oblates intended for the monastery, and the exterior school which seems to have had a more general character. The cathedral schools had for their primary, if not for their sole purpose, the training of youth for cathedral positions—canonici puri. The main, if not the exclusive, purpose of education was to prepare men for the priesthood and the convent.11691169    See Mullinger, Schools of Chas. the Great, pp. 31 sqq.; Rashdall, p. 28; Hauck, IV. 450, etc.edrals in Germany had schools,11701170    Mirbt, pp. 105 sq.

But in that century the centre of education shifted to France. The schools at Bec, Rheims, Orleans, Laon, and Paris had no rivals and their fame attracted students, even monks, priests, and bishops, from England and Germany.11711171    Schmid, pp. 250 sq.; Mirbt, pp. 106 sq. Hauck, IV. 462-456, gives reasons for disparaging the schools of Germany.er fame of Bec, under Lanfranc and Anselm. Students were drawn from afar and, in the judgment of the glowing panegyrist, Ordericus Vitalis, Athens, in its most flourishing period, would have honored Lanfranc in every branch of learning.11721172    Ord. Vit., IV. 7, 11; Bohn’s ed., II. 40, 68. He speaks of the seed of learning sown by Lanfranc—liberalium artium et sac. lectionis sedimen per Lanfr. coepit.s were followed by a succession of teachers whom Ordericus calls "careful pilots and skilful charioteers." Seldom has so splendid a compliment been paid a teacher by a man risen to eminence as was paid by Alexander II. to Lanfranc,11731173    Vita Lanf., Migne, 150. 49. Maître, p. 122, calls Bec, la soeur aînée de l’univ. de Paris, and Schmid, p. 248, die erste Hochschule der Wissenschaft. Church, in his Life of Anselm, pp. 53 sqq., has remarks on mediaeval education. to Rome, after he was made archbishop of Canterbury. Rising to welcome him with open arms, the pope remarked to the bystanders that he received Lanfranc as his teacher, at whose feet he had sat, rather than as archbishop. Guibert of Nogent, who died about 1120, is authority for the statement that teachers were very rare in France in his early years, but, at the time when he was writing, every considerable town in France had a teacher.11741174    De vita sua, Migne, 156. 844. the example of Guibert’s statement concerning his own mother.

As in the earlier period of the Middle Ages, so in this middle period, the idea of universal education was not thought of. Nor was there anything such as we call belles lettres and general literature.11751175    Guizot, Hist. of Civilization, Bohn’s ed., II. 22 sqq. Cardinal Newman in his Hist. Essays, through his admiration of monastic institutions, allowed himself to speak of the state of learning in Europe in the first half of the M. A. in terms which will not bear a moment’s investigation. See Laurie, p. 36.11761176    Hauck, III. 342. often men who could neither read nor write. Ordericus says that during the reigns of six dukes, before Lanfranc went to Bec, scarce a single Norman devoted himself to studies. Duke William of Aquitaine, d. 1030, however, was educated from childhood and was said to have spent his nights in reading till sleep overcame him, and to have had a collection of books.11771177    Wattenbach, p. 592.

The most brilliant teachers of this era were Anselm of Laon, William of Champeaux, Bernard of Chartres, William of Conches, and, above all, Abaelard. They all belonged to France. In their cases, the school followed the teacher and students went not so much to a locality as to an educator. More and more, however, the interest centred in Paris, which had a number of schools,—the Cathedral school, St. Genevieve, St. Victor, St. Denis.11781178    See Poole, p. 110.ll. His descriptions of the studies of the age, and the methods and rivalries of teachers, are given in the Metalogicus.

William of Champeaux, d. 1121, the pupil of Anselm of Laon, won fame at the Cathedral school of Paris, but lost his position by clash with the brilliant abilities of Abaelard. He retired to St. Victor and spent the last eight years of his life in the administration of the see of Chalons. He was an extreme realist.

The teaching of Anselm of Laon and his brother Ralph drew students from as far south as Milan and from Bremen in the North. The brothers were called by John of Salisbury the "splendid luminaries of Gaul,"11791179    Splendidissima lumina Galliarum. Metal., Migne, 199. 832. had Abaelard among his hearers and won his contumely. But John of Salisbury’s praise, and not Abaelard’s contempt, must determine our judgment of the man. His glossa interlinearis, a periphrastic commentary on the Vulgate, was held in high esteem for several centuries.11801180    He also wrote allegorical notes on the Canticles, Matthew, and Revelation. Migne, vol. 162.

Bernard of Chartres, about 1140, was celebrated by John of Salisbury as the "most overflowing spring of letters in Gaul in recent times" and, the most perfect Platonist of our age."11811181    Metal., Migne, 199. 854.ers in these words, "We are as dwarfs mounted on the shoulders of giants, so that we are able to see more and further than they; but this is not on account of any keenness of sight on our part or height of our bodies, but because we are lifted up upon those giant forms. Our age enjoys the gifts of preceding ages, and we know more, not because we excel in talent, but because we use the products of others who have gone before."11821182    Metal., III. 4; Migne, 199. 900.

William of Conches, d. 1152 (?), got his name from the Norman hamlet in which he was born. Like his teacher, Bernard of Chartres, he laid stress upon a thorough acquaintance with grammar as the foundation of all learning, and John of Salisbury seems to have written the Metalogicus to vindicate the claims his teachers made for the fundamental importance of this study as opposed to dialectics. But he was advocating a losing cause. Scholasticism was crushing out the fresh sprouts of humanism.11831183    See Rashdall, I. 67. created from Adam’s rib. The root of his teachings Poole finds in William’s own words, "through knowledge of the creature we attain to the knowledge of the Creator."11841184    See Poole’s art. in Herzog, 2d ed., XVIII. 132 sqq.

The studies continued, at least theoretically, to follow the scheme of the old trivium, including grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic; and the quadrivium, including arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. These branches had a wider scope than we associate with some of the titles. Grammar, for example, with Bernard of Chartres, included much more than technical rules and the fundamental distinctions of words. It took in the tropes and figures of speech, analyzed the author’s body of thought, and brought out the allusions to nature, science, and ethical questions. The teaching extended far beyond the teaching of the Capitularies of Charlemagne. Nevertheless, all these studies were the vestibule of theology and valuable only as an introduction to it. Jacob of Vitry, d. 1244, comparing the seven liberal arts with theology,11851185    Quoted by Compayré, p. 200.od for it teaches us to distinguish truth from falsehood, grammar is good for it teaches how to speak and write correctly; rhetoric is good for it teaches how to speak elegantly and to persuade. Good too are geometry which teaches us how to measure the earth, arithmetic or the art of computing which enables us to estimate the brevity of our days, music which reminds us of the sweet chant of the blessed, astronomy which leads us to consider the heavenly bodies shining resplendently before God. But far better is theology which alone can be called a liberal art, since it alone delivers the human soul from its woes."

Innocent III., through the canons of the Fourth Lateran, ordered all cathedrals to have teachers of grammar and lectors in theology, and offered the rewards of high office only to those who pursued hard study with the sweat of the brow.11861186    Qui diutius sudavit in scholis et laudabiliter proferit in eis. Hurter, III. 244.

The text-books in use for centuries were still popular, such as Cassiodorus, the Isagoge of Porphyry, Aristotle on the Categories; and his De interpretatione, Boethius on Music and the Consolations of Philosophy, Martianus Capella and the grammars of Priscian and Donatus.11871187    See Laurie, pp. 62 sq.; Mullinger, pp. 63 sq., etc.e open use of the classics by some of the leading educators in their lectures and their use in the writings of the time.

The condemnation, passed by Jerome on the ancient classics, was adopted by Cassian and handed down to the later generations. The obscurantists had the field with little or few exceptions for centuries. It is not to Alcuin’s credit that, in his latter years, he turned away from Virgil as a collection of "lying fables" and, in a letter to a novice, advised him not to assoil his mind with that poet’s rank luxuriance.11881188    Quoted by Mullinger, p. 110.osen orators and philosophers but ignorant and rustic men as His agents.11891189    Migne, 139. 337 sq., quoted by Schmid, p. 24311901190    .Migne, 189. 77. For other warnings, see Wattenbach, pp. 324 sqq., and Sandys, pp. 595 sq.

Gerbert taught Virgil, Statius, Terence, Juvenal, Persius, Horace, and Lucan.11911191    Richer, Historiae, III. 45, quoted by Schmid, p. 241.pen the understanding; the study of the writers of the Church to build a tabernacle to God. Anselm of Bee recommended the study of Virgil and other classics, counselling the exclusion of such treatises as contained suggestions of evil.11921192    Ep., I. 55, exceptis his in quibus aliqua turpitudo sonat.y’s teachers were zealous in reading such writings. John, who in the small compass of the Metalogicus quotes no less than seven classical poets, Statius, Martian, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Catullus, and Persius, and some of these a number of times, says that if you search in Virgil and Lucan, you will be sure to find the essence of philosophy, no matter what philosophy you may profess.11931193    Migne, 199. 854. The quotations from the poets in the Polycraticus are even more numerous. John also quoted the historians Sallust, Suetonius, Valerius Maximus, etc., but does nothing more than to refer by name to Livy, Caesar, and Tacitus. See Sandys, 521.ghed at him as duller than a stone.11941194    Metal., I. 8; Migne, 199. 830. See Sandys, pp. 504 sqq., for Latin quotations from 1100 on.iar with Ovid, Seneca, Horace, and other classics. But the time for the full Renaissance had not yet come. In the earliest statutes of the University of Paris the classics were excluded from the curriculum of studies. The subtle processes of the Schoolmen, although they did not altogether ignore the classic compositions, could construct the great theological systems without their aid, though they drew largely and confidently upon Aristotle.

The Discipline of the schools was severe. A good flogging was considered a wholesome means of educational advancement. It drove out the evil spirits of intellectual dulness and heaviness. Degere sub virga, to pass under the rod, was another expression for getting an education. At a later date, the ceremony of inducting a schoolmaster included the presentation of a rod and required him, at least in England, to show his prowess by flogging a boy publicly.11951195    "Then shall the Bedell purvay for every master in Gramer a shrewde boy whom the master in Gramer shall bete openlye in the Scolys," etc, Mullinger, Univ. of Cambridge, I, 345.ce of physical experience.

Guibert’s account of his experiences is the most elaborate description we have of mediaeval school life, and one of the most interesting pieces of schoolboys’ experience in literature.11961196    De vita sua, I. 4-6; Migne, 166. 843-848; Guizot, in his Hist. of Civilization, Bohn’s ed., II. 94 sqq.; Schmid, p. 249, and Laurie, pp. 80 sqq., consider the account of so much importance that they give it at length in the original, or in translation.idowed mother, was unmercifully beaten with fist and rod by his teacher, a man who had learned grammar in his advanced years. Though the teacher was an indifferent grammarian, Guibert testifies to the vigor of his moral purpose and the wholesome moral impression he made upon his pupils. The whipping came every day. But the child’s ardor for learning did not grow cold. On returning to his home one evening and loosening his shirt, his mother saw the welts and bruises on his shoulders, for he had been beaten black and blue that day;11971197    Ipsa liventes attendit ulnulas dorsicula ex viminum illisione cutem ubique prominulam. De vita sua, Migne, 156. 847.

At Cluny the pupils slept near the masters, and if they were obliged to get up at night, it was not till they had the permission of a master. If they committed any offence in singing the Psalms or other songs, in going to bed, or in any other way, they were punished in their shirts, by the prior or other master, with switches prepared beforehand.11981198    Quoted by Schmid, p. 246, note.

But there were not wanting teachers who protested against this method. Anselm urged the way of affection and confidence and urged that a skilful artificer never fashioned his image out of gold plate by blows alone. With wise and gentle hand he pressed it into shape. Ceaseless beating only brutalizes. To an abbot who said "day and night we do not cease to chastise the children confided to our care and yet they grow worse and worse," Anselm replied: "Indeed! And when they are grown up, what will they become? Stupid dolts. A fine education that, which makes brutes of men!... If you were to plant a tree in your garden and were to enclose it on all sides, so that it could not extend its branches, what would you find when, at the end of several years, you set it free from its bounds? A tree whose branches were bent and scraggy, and would it not be your fault for having so unreasonably confined it?"11991199    Quoted by Compayré, p. 303.

The principle ruled that an education was free to all whose circumstances did not enable them to pay for it. Others paid their way. Fulbert of Chartres took a fee from the rapidly increasing number of students, regarding philosophy as worth what was paid for it. But this practice was regarded as exceptional and met with opposition.12001200    Hauck, IV. 452. See Schmid, p. 250.12011201    Discere si cupias gratis quod quaeris habebis. Migne, 101. 757.st scholar at Cluny was as diligent as the care given to children in the palace.12021202    Schmid, p. 246.



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