Universities in Middle Ages

Topics: Medieval university, University, Liberal arts Pages: 11 (4200 words) Published: November 3, 2008

1.1 Origin of the University
The main reason for the establishment of the universities in Europe was a spontaneous and enthusiastic desire for knowledge. Centres of learning had grown up from the monastic and cathedral schools - formed what might be called the secondary school system of the early Middle Ages - and were mostly concerned with the study of the liturgy and prayer. Towards the end of the twelfth century a few of the greatest old cathedral, monastic or some other form of schools claimed, from the excellence of their teaching, to be more than merely local importance. These schools were generally recognized places of study, where lectures were open to student of all countries and of all conditions. However, for these places of study, it took a long period of time to become universities (Cubberley, 1920). The more ancient and customary term for an academic institution was studium generale. Let us explain the way studium was created in those days. It began when the teacher of some ability and reputation attracted more and more students to study. In period of time more teachers and more students came. The addition of generale meant that the studium was attended by students from other countries and it was contrasted with a studium particulare, which taught students only from the neighbourhood. In the thirteenth century, according to famous historian, Hastings Rashdall, three characteristics were connoted by the term Studium Generale; 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, but also one or more of the higher studies of Theology, Law and Medicine (1969, p9). It was used in much the same sense in which we speak of a University to-day (Graves, 1914) The term universitas itself was a general Roman legal term and originally meant any legally defined guild or corporation unless qualified by other expression. The complete name of the medieval university was – Universitas Magistrorum et Scholarium – the body of masters and scholars. Graves suggests that “it signified a company of persons that had assembled for study and, like any other gild, had organized for the sake of protection; since they were in a town there they were regarded as strangers. Thus it did not refer to a place or school at all, but to the teachers and scholars” (1914, p87). Lyte affirms that “in the earliest and broadest sense of the term, a university had no necessary connexion with schools or literature, being merely a community of individuals bound together by some more or less acknowledged tie. The term was, however, specially applied to the whole body of persons frequenting the schools of a large stadium” (1886, p5). According to Mullinger there are at least “three new factors in the intellectual activity of the older universities which clearly distinguish that activity from anything that had gone before. Firstly, there is the introduction of new subjects of study, as embodied in a new or revived literature. Secondly it is the adaption of new methods of teaching, which these subjects rendered necessary. And finally there is the growing tendency to organisation which accompanied the development and consolidation of the nationalities” (1888, p4). Rashdall also concluded that the university had embodied three important educational values: “a commitment to providing not only useful professional training but also the highest intellectual cultivation possible; a desire not only to conserve and transmit knowledge but also to advance it by research and writing; and the most important of all, the idea of joining together teachers of diverse subjects into a single harmonious institution, the ideal of making the teaching body representative of the whole cycle of human knowledge” (1969a, p12).

Practically in the second half of the twelfth century there were only few great centres...
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