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The principal Catholic foundations have been treated in special articles; here the general aspects of the subject are presented:

I. Origin and organization;
II. Academic work and development;
III. Renaissance and Reformation;
IV. Modern period;
V. Catholic action.


Although the name university is sometimes given to the celebrated schools of Athens and Alexandria, it is generally held that the universities first arose in the Middle Ages. For those that were chartered during the thirteenth century, dates and documents can be accurately given; but the beginnings of the earliest are obscure, hence the legends connected with their origin: Oxford was supposed to have been founded by King Alfred, Paris by Charlemagne, and Bologna by Theodosius II (A.D. 433). These myths, though they survived well on into modern times, are now generally rejected, and the historian's only concern with them is to discover their sources and trace their development. It is known, however, that during the eleventh and twelfth centuries a revival of studies took place, in medicine at Salerno, in law at Bologna, and in theology at Paris. The medical school at Salerno was the oldest and the most famous of its kind in the Middle Ages ; but it exerted no influence on the development of the universities. At Paris, the study of dialectics received a fresh impetus from teachers like Roscellin and Abelard, and eventually it displaced the study of the Classics which, especially at Chartres, had constituted an energetic though short-lived humanistic movement. The dialectical method, moreover, was applied to theological questions and, mainly through the work of Peter Lombard, was developed into Scholasticism. This meant not only that all sorts of questions were taken up for discussion and examined with the utmost subtlety, but also that a new basis was provided for the exposition of doctrine and that theology itself was cast into the systematic form which it presents in the works of St. Thomas, and above all, in the great "Summa". At Bologna, the new movement was practical rather than speculative, it afected the teaching, not of philosophy and theology, but of civil and canon law. Previous to the twelfth century, Bologna and been famous as a school of arts, while in regard to legal science it was far surpassed by other cities, e.g. Rome, Pavia, and Ravenna. That it became within a comparatively short time the chief centre of the teaching of law, not in Italy alone but in all Europe, was due mainly to Irnerius and to Gratian. The former introduced the systematic study of the whole Corpus juris civilis , and differentiated the course in law from that in the Liberal Arts ; the latter, in his "Decretum", applied the scholastic method to canon law, and secured for this science a distinct place apart from theology. In consequence, Bologna, long before it became a university, attracted large numbers of students from all parts of the Empire, and its teachers, as they became more numerous, also attained unrivalled prestige.

The school growing thus vigorously from within was further strengthened by the privileges which the emperor granted. In the "Authentic" Habita issued in 1158, Frederick I took under his protection the scholars who resorted to the schools of Italy for the purpose of study, and decreed that they should travel without hindrance or molestation, and that, in case complaint was lodged against them, they should have the option of defending themselves either before their professors or before the bishop. This grant naturally turned to the profit of Bologna; but it also served as the basis of many privileges subsequently accorded to this and to other schools. That Paris also enjoyed similar protection and immunities from an early date is highly probable, though the first grant of which there is record was made by Philip Augustus in 1200. To these two factors of internal growth and external advantage, a third had to be added before Paris or Bologna could become a university: it was necessary to secure a corporate organization. Both cities by the middle of the twelfth century possessed the requisite elements in the way of schools, sholars, and teachers. At Paris three schools were especially prominent: Saint Victor's, attached to the church of the canons regular; Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont, conducted first by seculars and later by canons regular; and Notre-Dame, the school of the Cathedral on the "Island". According to one account these three schools unived to form the university; Denifle, however (Die Universitäten, 655 sqq.), maintains that it originated in Notre-Dame only, and that this school therefore was the cradle of the University of Paris. This does not imply that the cathedral school as an institution was elevated to the rank of a university by royal or pontifical charter. The initiative was taken by the professors who, with the licence of the chancellor of Notre-Dame and subject to his authority, taught either at the cathedral or in private dwellings on the "Island". When these professors, in the last quarter of the twelfth century, inited in one teaching body, the University of Paris was founded (For the older view, see PARIS, UNIVERSITY OF).

This consortium magistorum included the professors of theology, law, medicine, and arts (philosophy). As the teachers of the same subject had special interests, they naturally formed smaller groups within the centre body. The name "faculty" originally designated a discipline or branch of knowledge, and was employed in this sense by Honorius III in his letter (18 Feb., 1219) to the scholars of Paris ; later, it came to mean the group of professors engaged in teaching the same subject. The closer organization into faculties was occasioned in the first instance by questions which arose in 1213, regarding the conferring of degrees. Then came the drafting of statutes for each faculty whereby its own internal affairs were regulated and lines of demarcation drawn between its sphere of action and those of the other faculties. This organization must have been completed within the first half, or perhaps first quarter, of the thirteenth century, since Gregory IX in the Bull "Parens scientiarum" (1231) recognizes the existence of separate faculties. The scholars, on their part, just as naturally fell into different groups. They belonged to various nationalities, and those from the same country must have realized the advantage, or even the necessity, of banding together in a city like Paris to which they came as strangers. This was the origin of the "Nations", which probably were organized early in the thirteenth century, though the first documentary evidence of their existence dates from 1249. The four Nations at Paris were those of the French, the Picards, the Normans, and the English. They were distinctively student associations, formed for purposes of administration and discipline, whereas the faculties were organized to deal with matters relating to the several sciences and the work of teaching. The Nations, therefore, did not constitute the university, nor were they identical with the faculties. The masters in arts were included in the Nations and at the same time belonged to the faculty of arts, because the course in arts was simply a preparation for higher studies in one of the superior faculties, and hence arts formed an "inferior" faculty, whose masters were still classed as scholars. The professors of the superior faculties did not belong to the Nations.

Each Nation elected from among its members a masters of arts as procurator ( proctor ), and the four procurators elected the rector, i.e. the head of the Nations, not, at first, the head of the university. As, however, the faculty of arts was closely bound up with the Nations, the rector gradually became the chief officer of that faculty, and was recognized as such in 1274. His authority extended later to the faculties of law and medicine (1279) and finally (1341) to the faculty of theology ; thenceforward the rector is the head of the entire university. On the other hand, the office of rector did not confer very large powers. From the beginning the chief authority had been exercised by the chancellor, as the pope's representative; and though this authority, by reason of conflicts with the university, had been somewhat reduced during the thirteenth century, the chancellor was still sufficiently powerful to overshadow the rector. Before the university came into existence, the chancellor had conferred the licence to teach, and this function he continued to perform all though the process of organization and after the faculties with their various officials were fully established.

At Bologna, towards the close of the twelfth century, voluntary associations were established by the foreign, i.e., non-Bolognese, students for purposes of mutual support and protection. These students were not boys, but mature men; many of them were beneficed clergymen. In their organization they copied the guilds of travelling tradesmen; each association comprised a number of Nations, enacted its own statutes, and elected a rector who was assisted by a body of consiliarii . These student-guilds were known as universitates , i.e. corporations in the accepted legal sense, not teaching bodies. Originally four in number they were reduced by the middle of the thirteenth century to two: universitas citramontanorum and universitas ultramontanorum . Neither the Bolognese students nor the doctors, being citizens of Bologna, belonged to a "university". The doctors were employed, under contract, and paid by the scholars, and were subject, in many respects, to the statutes framed by the student-bodies. In spite of this dependence, however, the professors retained control of strictly academic affairs; they were the rectores scholarum , while the heads of the universities were rectores scholarium ; in particular, the right of promotion, i.e. conferring degrees, was reserved to the doctors. These also formed associations, the collegia doctorum , which probably existed at or before the time of the founding of the student "universities". At first the doctors had full charge of examinations and in their own name granted the licence to teach. But in 1219 Honorius III gave the Archdeacon of Bologna exclusive authority to confer the doctorate, thus creating an office equivalent to that of the chancellor at Paris. The doctorate itself, as implying the right to membership in the collegium , was gradually restricted to the narrower circle of the doctores legentes , i.e. actually teaching. On the other hand, the student control was lessened by the fact that, in order to offset the inducements offered by rival towns, the city of Bologna, towards the end of the thirteenth century, began to pay the professors a regular salary in place of the fees formerly given, in such amounts as they saw fit, by the scholars. As a result the appointment of the professors was taken over by the city, and eventually by the reformatores studii , a board established by the local authority. Meantime the two "universities" were being drawn together in one body and this was brought into closer relations with the college of doctors ; so that Clement V (10 March, 1310) could speak of a magistorum et scholarium universitas at Bologna. At the beginning of the sixteenth century there was only one rector.

The growth of Oxford followed, in the main, that of Paris. In the middle of the twelfth century the schools were flourishing: Robert Pullen, author of the "Sentences" on which the more famous work of Peter Lombard is largely based, and Vacarius, the eminent Lombard jurist, are mentioned as teachers. The number of students, already considerable, was swelled in 1167 by an exodus from Paris. There were two Nations: the Boreales (Northern) included the English and Scottish students; the Australes (Southern), the Welsh and Irish. In 1274 these coalesced in one Nation, but the two proctors remained distinct. In 1209, owing to difficulties with the town, 3000 scholars dispersed. On their return, the papal legate Nicholas issued (1214) an ordinance enjoining that the town should pay an annual sum for the use of poor scholars and that "in case a clerk should be arrested by the townsmen, he should at once be surrendered on the demand of 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" (Muniments, I, p. 2). The first statutes were enacted in 1252, and confirmed by Innocent IV in 1254. The chancellor at first was an independent official appointed by the Bishop of Lincoln to act as ecclesiastical judge in scholastic matters. Gradually, however, he was absorbed into the university and became its head.

The development at Paris and Bologna explains the term by which the university was first designated, i.e. studium generale . This did not originally and essentially mean a school of universal learning, nor did it include all the four faculties; theology was often omitted or even excluded by the early charters. It first appears at Bologna in 1360, at Salamanca towards the end of the fourteenth century, at Montpellier in 1421; yet each of these schools was a studium generale in the original sense of the term, i.e. a school which admitted students from all parts, enjoyed special privileges, and conferred a right to teach that was acknowledged everywhere. This jus ubique docendi was implied in the very nature of the studium generale ; it was first explicitly conferred by Gregory IX in the Bull for Toulouse, 27 April, 1233, which declares that "any master examined there and approved in any faculty shall everywhere have the right to teach without further examination ".

Universitas , as understood in the Middle Ages, was a legal term; it got its meaning from the Corpus juris civilis , and it denoted an association taken as a whole, i.e. in its corporate capacity. Employed with reference to a school, universitas did not mean a collection of all the sciences, but rather the entire group of persons engaged at a given institution in scientific pursuits, i.e. the whole body of teachers and students: universitas magistorum et scholarium . This is the meaning of the term in official documents relating to Paris and Bologna; thus Alexander IV (10 Dec., 1255) states expressly that under the name university he understands "all the masters and scholars residing at Paris, to whatever society or congregation they may belong." Gradually, however, the terms universitas and studium came to be used promiscuously to denote an institution of learning: Universitas Ozoniensis and Studium Oxoniense were both applied to Oxford. There is mention as early as 1279 of delicta in universitate Oxoniae perpetrata (Munimenta, I, 39), and in the next century such phrases occur as (1306) in universitate Oxoniae studere (ibid., 87 sqq.). That the terms had become practically synonymous at the beginning of the fourteenth century appears from a statement of Clement V, 13 July, 1312, to the effect that the Archbishop of Dublin, John Lech, had reported that in those parts there was no scolarium universitas vel studium generale . About 1300 also the expression mater universitas was used by the Oxford masters, and these may have taken it from a document of Innocent IV (6 Oct., 1254) in which the pope speaks of Oxford as faecunda mater . Later, the expression alma mater was applied, e.g. to Paris in 1389; Cologna, 1392; Oxford, 1411. Alma was probably suggested by the liturgical use, as e.g. in the hymn beginning "Alma redemptoris mater".

The earliest universities had no charters; they grew ex consuetudine . Out of these others quickly developed, by migration, or by formal establishment. As the universities in the beginning possessed no buildings like our modern halls and laboratories, it was an easy matter for the students and professors, in case they became dissatisfied in one place, to find accommodations in another. Conflicts with the town often led to such migrations, especially where some rival town offered inducements: hence the secessions from Bologna to Vicenza (1204), to Arezzo (1213), to Padua (1222), the "great dispersion" from Paris (1229), and the migration (1209) from Oxford to Cambridge. But causes of a less tumultuous sort were also operative. The privileges enjoyed by the first universities lead other cities to seek similar advantages in order to keep their own scholars at home, and possibly attract outsiders, thereby adding to the local prosperity and prestige. Bologna and Paris served as patterns for the new organizations, and the desired privileges were sought from pope or civil ruler. It became, indeed, usual for the papal charter to include a set formula granting the new university "the same privileges, immunities, and liberties which are enjoyed by the masters and scholars of Paris " (or Bologna); thus Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen were to a large extent modelled on Paris and Glasgow on Bologna. The Parisian type was also reproduced at the earliest German universities, Prague, Vienna, Erfurt, and Heidelberg; but these soon began to depart from the original. The Nations were of less imprtance; the rector might be chosen from any faculty; the authority was vested in permanent and endowed professrors who predominated in the university council; and the colleges were under the control of the university, which kept the teaching in its own hands.

In Ireland the first step towards establishing a university was taken by John Lech, Archbishop of Dublin. At his instance, Clement V issued, 11 July, 1113, a Bull for the erection of a university near Dublin ; Lech, however, died a year later, and nothing was accomplished until his successor, Alexander de Bicknor, in 1320 established a university at St. Patrick's Cathedral with the approval of Pope John XXII. The first chancellor was William Rodiart, Dean of St. Patrick's, and the first graduates William de Hardite, O.P., Edward of Karwarden, O.P., and Henry Cogry, O.F.M. Lectures were still given in 1358; in that year Edward II issued letters-patent protecting the members of the university on their travels, and in 1364, Lionel, Duke of Clarence, founded a lectureship. The university failed from want of endowment, as did also the one founded by the Irish Parliament at Drogheda in 1465.

The Founders: Popes and Civil Rulers

In view of the importance of the universities for culture and progress, it is quite intelligible that there should be considerable discussion and divergence of opinion regarding the authority which should receive credit for their foundation. It has, e.g. been maintained that only the pope could establish a university; contrariwise, it has been held that such an establishment was the exclusive perogative of the civil rulers, i.e. emperor and king. These, however, are extreme positions, neither of which accords with the facts, while both are based on a study of a limited group of universities and, in large measure, on a failure to appreciate the relations of Church and State in the thirteenth century. From misunderstandings on the latter point erroneous conclusions have been drawn, not only regarding the origins of universities, but also the general attutude of the age towards the papacy and vice versa. Once it is settled, e.g. that, according to the view prevalent in the thirteenth century, only the pope could found a university, it is easy to interpret any similar foundation by a monarch or any initiative taken by a municipality, as evidence of hostility to the Holy See and as a first move towards that "emancipation" which actually came to pass in the sixteenth century. By the same sort of reasoning the inference is drawn that the pope resented the action of the civil power in granting charters and repressed all attempts at freedom on the part of the universities themselves. To set these conclusions in the proper light, it is sufficient to glance at the various modes of foundation.

Previous to the Reformation 81 universities were established. Of these 13 had no charter; they developed spontaneously ex consuetudine ; 33 had only the papal charter; 15 were founded by imperial or royal authority; 20 by both papal and imperial (or royal) charters. Once the oldest universities, especialy Paris and Bologna, had grown to fame and influence so that their graduates enjoyed the licentia ubique docenti , it was recognized that a new institution, in order to become a studium generale , required the authorization of the supreme authority, i.e. of the pope as head of the Church or of the emperor as protector of all Christendom. Thus in "Las Siete Patridas" (1256-1263), Alfonso of Sabio declares that a "studium generale must be established by mandate of the pope, the emperor, or the king"); and St. Thomas (Op. contra impugn. relig., c. iii): "ordinare de studio pertinet ad eum qi praest reipublicae, et praecipue ad authoritatem apostolicae sedis qua universalis ecclesia gubernatur, cui per generale studium providetus", i.e. in the matter of universities the authority belongs to the chief ruler of the commonwealth and especially to the Apostolic See, the head of the universal Church, "the interest of which is furthered by the university". These last words contain the essential reason for seeking authorization from the pope : the university was not be be a merely local or national institution; its teaching and its degrees were to be recognized throughout the Christian world . On the other hand, in the civil order, the emperor was supreme; hence he conferred on the universities founded by him, without any papal charter, the right to grant degrees in all the faculties, theology and canon law included. The imperial charters were recognized by the popes and, whenever necessary, additional privileges were granted. It cannot then be said that the action of Maximilian I in founding (1502) the University of Wittenberg was an epoch-making event; Charles IV had long before done the same for Siena, Arezzo, an Orange, and the charters with which he founded Pavia and Lucca precceded by twenty years the papal grants.

The kings were not on the same plane as the emperor. They could indeed found a university, appoint the chancellor, and authorize him to confer degrees; but they could not establish a studium generale in the full sense of the term; what they founded was a university respectu regni , i.e. the degrees it granted were valid only within the limits of the kingdom. This was the situation at Naples, founded (1224) by Frederick II, and especially in the Spanish universities. The kings themselves were aware of their limitations in this respect, and accordingly sought the papal authorization. The popes on their part recognized the royal charters as valid, and added to them the character of university required for a studium generale . In some cases the papal intervention was necessary and was sought, not simply to confirm what the king had established, but to save or revive the university: such e.g. were the measures taken by Honorius III (1220) for Palencia, by Clement VII (1379) for Perpignan, and by right -->Julius II (1464) for Huesca — all royal foundations which showed no vitality until the pope came to their assistance. The power of bishops and municipalities was, of course, still more restricted. They could take the initiative by calling professors, establishing courses of study, and providing endowments; but sooner or later they were obliged to seek authorization from the pope. This was notably the case in Italy where the free and enterprising cities (Treviso, Pisa, Florence, Siena ), stimulated by Bologna's example, undertook the founding of their own universities. At Siena, it seemed at first that the attempt to get on without either imperial or papal charter would succeed; the studium , inaugurated in 1275, had ample funds and a large body of professors and students which was continually increased by an emigration from Bologna (1312); yet in 1325 it was on the verge of collapsing, and its existence was not secured until it obtained university privileges from Charles IV in 1457 and papal grants from Gregory XII in 1404. St. Andrews in Scotland was more fortunate. It was founded by Bishop Henry Wardlaw in 1411; but shortly after its opening the bishop in a document addressed 27 Feb., 1412, to the masters and scholars speaks of the "universitas a nobis salva tamen sedis apostolice auctoritate de facto instituta et fundata". Six months later (28 Aug., 1412), Benedict XIII ( Avignon ) issued the charter of foundation, and appointed Wardlaw as chancellor.

There is no ground, then, for the inference that the founding of universities by the civil power and their organization by laymen for lay students was a symptom of antagonism to the Holy See or an attempt at emancipation from the authority of the Church. Such an interpretation of the facts merely projects modern ideas back into a period in which an entirely different spirit prevailed. That spirit was one of co-operation, even of emulation, in a common cause; and neither the spirit nor the cause would have been possible but for the unity of faith and of hierarchical jurisdiction which held the West together in one Church. Had this unity included all Christendom, the East would doubtless have had its share in the university movement; at any rate, it is significant that in Russia and the other countries dominated by the schismatic Greek Church, no university was established during the Middle Ages.

Besides issuing charters the popes contibuted in various ways to the development and prosperity of the universities. (1) Clerics who held benefices were dispensed from the obligation of residence, if they absented themselves in order to attend a university. Both lay and clerical students enjoyed certain exemptions, e.g. from taxation, from military service, from the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts, and from citation to courts at a distance from Paris ( privilegium fori ). To safeguard these privileges was the special duty of the conservator Apostolic, usually a bishop or archbishop appointed by the pope for this purpose. (2) By the Bull "Parens scientiarum" (1231), the magna charta of the university of Paris, Gergory IX authorized the masters, in the event of an outrage committed by any one on a master or a scholar and not redressed within fifteen days, to suspend their lectures. This right of cessation was frequently made use of in conflicts between town and gown. (3) On various occasions the popes intervened to protect the scholars against the encroachments of the local civil authorities : Honorius III (1220) took the part of the scholars at Bologna when the podestà drew up statutes that interfered with their liberties; Nicholas IV (1288) threatened to disrupt the studium at Padua unless the municipal authorities repealed within fifteen days the ordinances they had framed against the masters and scholars. Even the chancellor of Paris, when he demanded of the masters an oath of obedience to himself, was checked by Innocent III (1212), and his powers were greatly reduced by the action of later popes. It became in fact quite common for the university to lay its grievances before the Holy See, and its appeal was usually successful. (4) In many instances, especially in Germany, the endowment of the universities was drawn, largely if not entirely, from the revenues of the monasteries and chapters. More than once the pope intervened to secure the payment of their salaries to the professors, e.g. Boniface VIII (1301) and Clement V (1313) at Salamanca; Clement VI (1346 at Valladolid: and Gregory IX (1236) at Toulouse, where Count Raymond had refused to pay the salaries. The popes also set the example of endowing colleges, and these, founded by kings, bishops, priests, nobles, or private citizens, became not only residential halls for students but also the chief financial support of the university.


The Academic Year

In the earlier period lectures were given throughtout the year, with short recesses at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost and a longer vacation in summer. At Paris this vacation was limited by order of Gregory IX (1261) to one month, but by the end of the fourteenth century it had been extended for the arts faculty from 25 June to 25 Aug., for theology and canon law from 28 June to 15 Sept. The year really began on 1 Oct., and was divided into two periods; the grand ordinary, from 1 Oct. to Easter, and the little ordinary, from Easter to the end of June. At Bologna the vacation began 7 Sept., and the scholastic year opened again on 19 Oct.; this, however, was interrupted for ten days at Christmas, two weeks at Easter, and three weeks at carnival. In Germany, there was considerable difference between the calendars of the various universities and even between those of the faculties at the same university. In general, the year began about the middle of October and closed about the middle of June. But at Cologne, Heidelberg, and Vienna there was a little ordinary from 25 Aug., to 9 Oct. The vacation, however, was not a complete suspension of academic work; the extraordinary lectures, given for the most part by bachelors, were continued, and credit was given to students who attended them. About the middle of the fifteenth century, the division of the year into two semesters, summer and winter, was introduced at Leipzig, and eventually was adopted by the other German universities.


Both the annual calendar and the daily schedule took into account the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary or cursory lectures. This originated at Bologna where certain books of the civil law ("Digestum Vetus" and "Code") were ordinary, while others ("Infortiatum", "Digestum novum", and the smaller textbooks) were extraordinary. In canon law, the ordinary books were the Decretum and the five books of the Decretals ( Gregory IX ); the extraordinary were the Clementines and Extravagants. Ordinary lectures were reserved to doctors, and were given in the forenoon; extraordinary lectures, known at Paris as cursory, and given by masters or by bachelors, were assigned to the afternoon during the year; in the vacation they might be given at any time of the day, as the ordinary lectures were then suspended. Cursory meant either that the lecture was followed by the cursores , i.e. candidates for the licence, or that it ran rapidly over the subject-matter, whereas the treatment in the ordinary lecture was more thorough.

In all the faculties the work of teaching centred about books, i.e. the texts, compilations, and glosses which were regarded as the chief authorities in each subject. At the beginning of the year (or semester) the books were distributed among the professors, who were obliged to use them in accordance with the regulations established by each faculty regarding the daily schedule, the length of the course, the hall to be used, the academic dress to be worn, and the method to be followed. The lecture was in the strict sense a praelectio (whence the German Vorlesung ); the professor had to read the text; in the ordinary lectures, he was not allowed to dictate anything beyond the divisions and conclusions and such corrections of the text as he deemed necessary. The scholars were supposed to have their own copies of the text; if they were too poor to procure the books, the professor might dictate the text to them, not in the regular lecture but at special classes or exercises (repetitions). The plan of the lecture was analytic: careful explanation and definition of terms ( ponere et determinare ); division of the matter and discussion of the several points followed by a summary of the essential ( scindere et summare ); presentation of problems suggested by the text ( quaestiones ), and solution of objections. In lectures on law the reading of the glosses was an important feature, and cases were frequently proposed to illustrate principles. At the ordinary lectures, the scholars were not supposed to ask questions; at the extraordinary, greater freedom was permitted, the scholars being encouraged to express their doubts as to the meaning of the texts and to request further information on obscure matters. More thorough training, however, was given in the resumption and repetitions which the masters held at stated times for the treatment of special problems. The exercises, conducted in dialectical form, afforded full opportunity for discussion between scholar and master; and they served as examinations by which the progress of the scholar was tested. But the most important of the academic exercises was the disputation. This was of two kinds: d. ordinaria and d. de quodlibet . The ordinary disputation took place every week and lasted from morning till noon, or till evening according to the number of participants. On the day set apart for this purposes the lectures and other exercises were suspended, so that all the masters, bachelors, and scholars might be present at the disputation. One of the masters ( disputans ) announced, in the form of question or thesis, the subject of the debate; other masters ( opponentes ) presented arguments against the thesis; answers to the arguments were given by two or three bachelors ( respondentes ) appointed for the occasion. The number of arguments were fixed by statute or was fixed by the dean of the faculty whose duty it was to preside. Throughout the disputation the syllogistic form was employed. The disputation de quodlibet was held only once a year, but with greater solemnity than the ordinary, and over a wider range of topics. The master elected or appointed for the occasion, and known as the quodlibetarius , had to debate a separate question with each of the other masters who chose to enter the lists. The disputation lasted several days, sometimes a fortnight. The arguments and their solutions were written out and preserved in book form. A specimen may be found in the "Quodlibetales" of St. Thomas. It was mainly out of these lectures, repetitions, and disputations that the works of the medieval doctors grew; so that the various commentaries, summae , and books of "sentences" afford the best idea of university teaching both as to content and as to method.

Courses of Study: Degrees

The distribution of the subjects to be studied and of the books to be read in the course was regulated in view of the degrees, i.e. of the various steps ( gradus ) by which the student advanced from the stage of a simple scholar to that of a master or doctor. The system of degrees developed out of the necessity of restricting the right to teach, and consequently of fixing the qualifications which the teacher should possess. It did not, any more than the university itself, spring suddenly into existence, nor did it everywhere present the same details. Three degrees, however, were generally recognized: baccalaureate, licentiate, and doctorate or mastership. The requirements for these varied at different periods and in different universities; each faculty, moreover, had its own regulations regarding the length of courses and the subjects of study; in particular, there was a rather broad division between the faculty of arts and the superior faculties of theology, medicine, and law. For the courses of study in arts, see BACHELOR OF ARTS; THE FACULTY OF ARTS ; MASTER OF ARTS.

In theology, the texts were the Bible and the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard ; in law, the books mentioned above; in medicine, the works of Galen, Avicenna, and other writers prescribed for Montpellier by Clement V in 1309. The medical course included also practical work in anatomy, for which the "Anatomia" of Mondino (1275-1237) of Bologna and a similar text by Henri de Mondeville (1260-1320) of Montepllier, served as guides. The student was further required, before graduation, to accompany the professor on the latter's visits to the sick for the purpose of clinical study. For degrees in the higher faculties, see DOCTOR.


The most conspicuous feature of the student body as a whole was its cosmopolitan character. This is evidenced by the division into Nations mentioned above. The University of Bologna owed its origin mainly to associations of foreign students, and among these the Germans enjoyed exceptional privileges. At Paris the English nation was prominent, and Irish scholars were found in the continental universities long before they were expelled from the English universities in 1423. What the total number was at any of the older universities is a debated question. According to Odofredus, Bologna, at the close of the twelfth century, had 10,000; Oxford, according to Richard Fitz Ralph (d. 1360), had at one time 30,000 and in his own day 6,000, while Wyclif (d. 1384) placed the "heroic" number at 60,000, in his own day at 3,000; the earlier accounts gave Paris between 20,000 and 40,000. Recent estimates have reduced these numbers, allowing Paris a maximum 6000-7000, Bologna about the same, Oxford 1500-3000 (Rashdall, op. cit. infra). For the German universities, the numbers are still smaller; in 1380-1389 Prague had 1027, in the second half of the sixteenth century Vienna had 933, in 1450-1479 Cologne had 852, in 1472 Leipzig had 662; while Greifswald in 1465-1478 had only 103 and Freiburg, in 1460-1500, only 143 (Paulsen). In respect of age the differences were considerable. A boy could begin arts at between twelve or fifteen years of age and graduate at twenty or twenty-one. The students of the superior faculties were, of course, older men. Candidates for the doctorate in theology at Paris must have been over thirty; and it was not uncommon for priests who had already spent some time in the ministry, to matriculate at the university; an abbot, a provost, or even a bishop might become a student without any sacrifice of his dignity.

The frequent use of the work clericus or "clerk" to designate a university student, does not imply that every student was an ecclesiastic. At Bologna the distinction was clearly drawn between the scolaris and the clericus ; the statutes concerning the rector provide that he must be a scholar of Bologna and, in addition, "an unmarried cleric, wearing the clerical dress and not belonging to any religious order". Similar provisions are found at Florence, Perugia, and Padua. Long before the rise of the universities, clerics enjoyed certain privileges and immunities, and these were extended, when the universities had been established, to all the students, lay and clerical alike. The layman would naturally wear the clerical garb not merely as an academic costume but as an evidence that he was entitled to clerical privileges. Even at Paris and Oxford, where the ecclesiastical element dominated, the enjoyment of these privileges was not dependent on the reception of tonsure, i.e. on admission to the clerical state in the canonical sense (Rashdall, II, 646). Celibacy, however, was obligatory on all scholars and masters; as a rule, a master who married lost his position, and though married scholars are sometimes mentioned, e.g. at Oxford, they were disqualified for taking degrees. Still, celibacy was not universally enforced; there were married professors of medicine at Salerno, and at the university of the Roman Curia, which was under the direct supervision of the pope, the masters of law had their wives and children. One of the famous canonists of Bologna was Joannes Andrea (1270-1328, whose daughter Novella sometimes lectured in his stead. At Paris the obligation of celibacy for masters in medicine was removed by Cardinal Estouteville in 1452, for those in law by the statutes of 1600. The first rector at Greifswald (1456) was married, as was also the rector at Vienna in 1470. In other German universities the requirement of celibacy remained longer in force, owing in part, at least, to the fact that many of the chairs were endowed with the revenue of canonries ; but this did not imply that laymen were excluded from university positions.

An important element in the student body and in the entire life of the university was contributed by the religious orders. In Italy they had long been the recognized teachers of theology, and when the faculty of theology was established at Bologna in 1260, they supplied the professors and the majority of the students. The Dominicans settled at Paris in 1217 and at Oxford in 1221; the Franciscans at Paris in 1230 and at Oxford in 1224. At both universities the Carmelites and Augustinians also had their convents. The members of these orders in their community life enjoyed many advantages; a permanent home in which their material needs were provided for, regular hours of study, discipline, and religious practice; and for each order the bond of membership was a source of strength and solidarity. It is not then surprising that the regulars took high rank as scholars and teachers. Of the secular clerks some lived in apartments, others with their masters, and other again, the "martinets", with the townsmen. The students frequently banded together and lived in a rented hall ( hospicium ) under the management of one of their own number, a bachelor or a master elected by them as principal. For the poorest students colleges were established and endowed with burses by generous founders. Between 1200 and 1500 Paris had six colleges ; Oxford, eleven; Cambridge, thirteen. The founders were mostly bishops, canons, or other ecclesiastics ; but the laity, including the sovereigns, did their share (see OXFORD, UNIVERSITY OF: I. Origin and History ). At Bologna the most famous was the College of Spain founded by Egidio Albornoz, Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo (d. 1367). The colleges at the German universities were primarily for the benefit of the teachers, though scholars also were received. The college residents at Paris were students in arts or theology ; they were known as socii (fellows) and were governed by a master, or by several masters if the students belonged to different faculties. The masters were required to hold repetitions on the subjects treated in the university schools and "faithfully to instruct the scholars in life and in doctrine ". This tutoring gradually became more important than the university lectures, and attracted to the colleges large numbers of students besides the holders of burses or scholarships; by the middle of the fifteenth century almost the whole university resided in the colleges, and the public lecture halls served only for determination and inceptions. In this way the Sorbonne, originaly a hospice for poor clerks, became the centre of theological teaching at Paris. The university, however, claimed and exercised the right of visitation and of disciplinary enactments; in 1457 it obliged the martinets to live in or near some college, and forbade the migration of scholars from one master's home to another; and in 1486 it enacted that teachers in colleges should be appointed by the faculty of arts.

With the founding of the colleges, discipline improved. The earlier university regulations dealt chiefly with academic matters, leaving the students quite free in other respects. According to all accounts this freedom meant licence in various forms — fighting, drinking, and graver offences against morality. With due allowance for the exaggeration of some writers who charge the scholars with every crime, it is clear from the college statutes th

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