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illustrate every stage of its history, they roads with thousands of
young throw little light on its academical scholars hurrying to the chosen seats origin. Nothing can be more obscure where teachers were gathered together. than the rise of the University. A new power sprang up in the midst The first century of its existence has of a world as yet under the rule of left little more than the name of a sheer brute force. Poor as they were, teacher, the visit of Gerald, and a sometimes even of servile race, the squabble between the students and a wandering scholars who lectured in cook. In the face of its claims to im- every cloister were hailed as “masters' memorial antiquity it is a little startling by the crowds at their feet. Abelard to have to date the first traces of uni- was a foe worthy of the menaces of versity life at Oxford as late as the Councils, of the thunders of the Church. tweifth century. But venerable as it The teaching of a single Lombard was deems itself, the University is at least of note enough in England to draw down four hundred years younger than the the prohibition of a king. Vacarius, town. No name of school or scholar probably a guest in the court of can be found before the reign of Stephen; Archbishop Theobald, where Beket the lectures delivered by the Lombard and John of Salisbury were already teacher, Vacarius, under the patronage busy with the study of the Canon Law of Archbishop Theobald, are the first —the
new weapon by which the historic indications of any systematic Papacy met the revival of the Roman instruction within its walls. But the jurisprudence-opened lectures on it at supposition of an earlier date can only Oxford. He was at once silenced by have sprung from an utter ignorance of Stephen, then at with the Church, the history of universities in the Middle and jealous of pwer which the Age. Their establishment was every
wreck of royal
Thority and the where throughout Europe the special anarchy of the baronage under his mark of the new impulse that Chris- rule had already thrown into the hands tendom had gained from the Crusades. of the bishops ; but it is probable that A new fervour of study sprang up in here, as elsewhere, the new teacher had the West from its contact with the more quickened older educational foundations civilized East. Travellers like Adelard into a fresh life, and that the cloisters of Bath brought back the first rudiments of Osney and St. Frideswide preserved of physical and mathematical science the fire that the Lombard had kindled.1 from the schools of Cordova or Bagdad. As yet, however, the fortunes of the The earliest classical revival restored new school were obscured by the glories Cæsar and Virgil to the list of monastic of Paris. English scholars gathered in studies, and left its stamp on the pedan- thousands round the chairs of William tic style, the profuse classical quotations, of Champeaux or Abelard. The English of writers like William of Malmesbury took their place as one of the “nations” or John of Salisbury. The scholastic of the new university. John of Salisphilosophy sprang up in the schools of bury became famous as one of the Paris. The Roman law was revived by Parisian teachers. Beket wandered to the Imperialist doctors of Bologna. The Paris from his school at Merton. But long mental inactivity of feudal Europe through the peaceful reign of Henry the was broken up like ice before a summer's Second Oxford was quietly increasing sun. Wandering teachers like Lanfranc in numbers and repute. Forty years or Anselm crossed sea and land to spread
i If we credit the statement of the Annals the new power of knowledge. The same
of Osney, that Robert Pulein read “scriptores spirit of restlessness, of inquiry, of im
at Oxford in 1123, its origins are patience with the older traditions, either carried a few years further back ; but the later local or intellectual, of mankind that date of the completion of these annals hardly
entitles the lectures of Pulein to the same had hurried half Christendom to the
credence as those of Vacarius, of which the tomb of its Lord, had crowded the record is almost contemporary.
No. 145.-VOL. XXV.
later than the visit of Vacarius, its exactions, the students besiege a Legate educational position was fully estab- in the Abbot's house at Osney. A murlished. When Gerald of Wales read his derous “town and gown” row precedes amusing Topography of Ireland to its
the opening of the Barons' War. “When students, the most learned and famous Oxford draws knife, England's soon at of the English clergy were, he tells strife," runs the popular rhyme. us, to be found within its walls. At But the stir, the turbulence, is a stir the opening of the thirteenth century and turbulence of life. A keen thirst Oxford was without a rival in its own for knowledge, a passionate poetry of country, while in European celebrity it devotion, gather thousands round the took rank with the greatest schools of poorest scholar, and welcome the barethe Western world.
foot friar. Edmund-Archbishop of CanBut to realize this Oxford of the past terbury, and saint in later days—comes we must dismiss from our minds all re- a boy of twelve years old from the little collections of the Oxford of the present. lane at Abingdon that still bears his In the outer aspect of the new University name. He finds his school in an inn there was nothing of the pomp
that belongs to the Abbey of Eynsham, awes the freshman as he first paces the where his father has taken refuge from "High" or looks down from the gallery the world. His mother is a pious woman of St. Mary's. In the stead of long fronts of her day, too poor to give her boy of venerable colleges, of stately walks be- much outfit besides the hair shirt that neath immemorial elms, history plunges he promises to wear every Wednesday. us into the mean and filthy lanes of a But Edmund is no poorer than his neighmediæval town. Thousands of boys,
bours. He plunges at once into the huddled in bare lodging-houses, cluster- nobler life of the place, its ardour for ing round teachers as poor as themselves, knowledge, its mystical piety. "Secretly," in church porch and house porch, drink- at eventide, perhaps, when the shadows ing, quarrelling, dicing, begging at the are gathering in the church of St. Mary's corners of the streets, take the place of and the crowd of teachers and students the brightly-coloured train of doctors have left its aisles, the boy stands before and Heads. Mayor and Chancellor an image of the Virgin, and, placing a struggle in vain to enforce order or peace ring of gold upon its finger, takes Mary on this seething mass of turbulent life. for his bride. Years of study, broken The retainers who follow their young by the fever that raged among the lords to the University fight out the crowded, noisome streets, brought the feuds of their houses in the streets. time for completing his education at Scholars from Kent and scholars from Paris, and Edmund, hand in hand with Scotland wage the bitter struggle of a brother Robert of his, begged his way, North and South. At nightfall roysterer as poor scholars were wont, to the great and reveller roam with torches through school of Western Christendom. Here the narrow lanes, defying bailiffs, and a damsel, heedless of his tonsure, so cutting down burghers at their doors. pertinaciously wooed him, that Edmund Now a mob of clerks plunges into the consented at last to an assignation ; but Jewry, and wipes of the memory of when he appeared it was in company of bills and duns by sacking a Hebrew grave academical officials, whose scourging house or two. Now a tavern row be- was so effectual, that, as the maiden detween student and townsman widens clared in the hour of penitence which into a murderous broil, and the bells of followed,“the offending Eve was straightSt. Martin's and St. Mary's are clanging way whipped out of her.” Still true to to arms. Every phase of ecclesiastical his Virgin-bridal, Edmund, his return controversy, of political strife, is pre- from Paris, became the most popular of luded by some fierce outbreak in this Oxford teachers. We see him in the turbulent, seething mob. While Eng- little room which he hired with the land is still only growling at Romish Virgin's chapel hard by, his grey gown
reaching to his feet, ascetic in his devo- A common intellectual kinship and tion, falling asleep in lecture time after rivalry superseded the petty strifes of a sleepless night of prayer, with a grace country with country or realm with and cheerfulness of manner which told realm. What the Church and Empire of his French training, and a chivalrous had both aimed at and both failed in love of knowledge that let his pupils accomplishing, the knitting of Christian pay what they would. “Ashes to ashes, nations together into a vast commondust to dust,” the young tutor would wealth, the Universities for a time say, a touch of scholarly pride perbaps actually did. Dante was as little a mingling with his contempt of worldly stranger in the “Latin ” quarter around things, as he threw down the fee on the Mont St. Geneviève as under the arches dusty window ledge, where a thievish of Bologna. Wandering Oxford scholars student would sometimes run off with carried the writings of Wiclif to the it. But even knowledge brought its libraries of Prague. In England the troubles: the Old Testament, which work of provincial fusion was less diffiwith a copy of the Decretals formed his cult or important than elsewhere, but sole library, frowned down upon a love even in England work had to be done. of secular learning from which Edmund The feuds of Northerner and Southerner found it hard to wean hiniself. At last, which so long disturbed the discipline in some hour of dream, the form of his of Oxford witnessed at any rate to the dead mother floated into the room where fact that Northerner and Southerner the teacher stood among his mathema- had at last been brought face to face in tical diagrams.
“What are these ?" she its streets. And here as elsewhere the seemed to say; and, seizing Edmund's spirit of natural isolation was held in right hand, she drew on the palm three check by the larger comprehensiveness circles interlaced, each of which bore of the University. After the dissenthe name of one of the Persons of the sions that threatened the prosperity of Christian Trinity. “ Be these," she Paris in the thirteenth century, Norman cried, as her figure faded away, “thy and Gascon mingled with Englishmen diagrams henceforth, my son.
in its lecture halls. The rebellion of The story admirably illustrates the Owen Glyndwyr found hundreds of real character of the new training, and Welsh scholars gathered round its the latent opposition between the spirit teachers. And within this strangely of the Universities and the spirit of mingled mass society and government the Church. The feudal and ecclesi- rested on a purely democratic basis. astical order of the old mediæval world The son of the noble stood on precisely were both alike threatened by the the same footing with the poorest power that had so strangely sprung up mendicant among Oxford scholars. in the midst of them. Feudalism rested Wealth, physical strength, skill in on local isolation, on the severance of arms, pride of ancestry and blood, the kingdom from kingdom and barony very basis on which feudal society from barony, on the distinction of rested, went for nothing in Oxford blood and race, on the supremacy of
lecture-rooms. The University was a material or brute force, or an allegiance state absolutely self-governed, whose determined by accidents of place and citizens were admitted by a purely insocial position. The University, on the tellectual franchise. Knowledge made other hand, was a protest against this the “master." To know more than isolation of man
The one's fellows was a man's sole claim smallest school was European and not to be a "ruler” in the schools: and
N inerely every province of within this intellectual aristocracy all France, buv every people of Christendom were equal. The free commonwealth had its place among the “nations” of of the masters gathered in the aisles of Paris or Padna. A common language, St. Mary's as the free commonwealth Latin, superseded within academical of Florence gathered in Santa Maria bounds the warring tongues of Europe. Novella. All had an equal right to
counsel, all had an equal vote in the fought fiercely and unscrupulously. It final decision. Treasury and library met the claims of the Civil Law by a were at the complete disposal of the rival code of the Canon Law, founded body of Masters. It was their voice on the gigantic imposture of the False that named every officer, that proposed Decretals. It crushed the spirit of and sanctioned every statute. Even the heresy by the sword of De Montfort Chancellor, their head, who had at first and the Inquisition of St. Dominic. It been an officer of the Bishop, became availed itself of the patriotism of the an elected officer of their own.
Spaniard and the bigotry of the burgher If the democratic spirit of the to drive Jew and Mussulman, and Universities threatened feudalism, their physical science with them, out of the spirit of intellectual inquiry threatened limits of Christendom. 1 But its chief the Church. The sudden expansion of field of action lay within the Universities the field of education diminished the themselves. The Friars wrested back importance of those purely ecclesiastical the intellectual energy of their scholars and theological studies which had to the barren fields of scholastic hitherto absorbed the whole intellectual theology. In Oxford the spirit of energies of mankind. The revival of independent thought was crushed out classical literature, the rediscovery as by the suppression of the Lollards. The it were of an older and a greater world, secular freedom of the University disthe contact with a larger, freer life, appeared as it died into a group of whether in mind, in society, or in
ecclesiastical colleges in whose governpolitics, introduced a spirit of scep- ment or training the clergy were supreme. ticism, of doubt, of denial, into the Its popularity waned, its numbers derealms of unquestioning belief. Abelard creased with the advent of persecution claimed for reason the supremacy over and the contraction of its studies, till faith. The Florentine poets discussed the fifteenth century found it a mere with a smile the immortality of the theological seminary, a mere feeder to soul. Even to Dante, while he censures the religious benefices of the land. All them, Virgil is as sacred as Jereniiah. danger to the Church was over, and the The imperial ruler in whom the new University was dead. culture took its most notable form, The first stage in this career of academiFrederick the Second, the “World's cal degradation was the result of the conWonder” of his time, was regarded by test with the Town. In the long struggle half Europe as no better than an infidei. with mayor and bailiff the University The faint revival of physical science, so was forced to assume more and more an long crushed as magic by the dominant ecclesiastical position. The immunity ecclesiasticism, brought Christians into of clerks from civil jurisdiction was its perilous contact with the Moslem and one claim to the long list of privileges the Jew. The books of the Rabbis and exemptions which it built up into were no longer a mere accursed thing to a perfect supremacy over the burghers. Roger Bacon. The scholars of Cordova The thunders and excommunications of
“Paynim swine” to the Church were the weapons with which Adelard of Bath. And while its ex- it beat down civic resistance. We have clusive possession of truth was thus already seen the prosperity and freedom doubted from without, and its posses- of the town into which this turbulent sion of truth at all faintly denied from mass of boyish life poured itself in the within, the secular pre-eminence of the reigns of Stephen or Henry. At first Church was menaced by the universities sight the boy-scholar, poor, without of Italy. The legist of Bologna with the Code of Justinian in his hand 1 Of course Hebrew settlements remained saw the descendant of the Cæsars in in Germany and Poland, and indeed in Rome
itself. Barbarossa, and degraded the Pope into
But all intellectual contact between
them and the Christian world had been broken a dependant of the Emperor. Against
off by the fiery persecution which had fallen this tide of opposition the Church on their race.
corporate organization, unbacked as yet the lord abbot whose tenants had become by royal charters or the sanctions of an freemen, the mediæval burgher stood tiquity, seemed no match for the towns. jealously on his guard. But the enman proud of his municipal freedom, of croachments of the University were his alliance with London, of the stately purely involuntary results of social order of his trade guilds, of the power embarrassments which could hardly fail of his mayor. The burgher must have to arise from its mere presence within felt himself fronted by a mere mob of the walls of Oxford. The conflict of schoolboys, but behind the mob of jurisdictions brought about the first schoolboys lay the power of the Church. encounter at a time which promised ill The wide extension which mediæval for the interests of the Church. The usage gave to the word “ orders Papal Interdict had just fallen upon gathered the whole educated world England, and John had replied by the within its pale. Whatever might be confiscation of Church property and his age or proficiency, scholar and by the outlawry of the clergy. It was teacher were alike clerks, free from lay at this moment that the Mayor found responsibilities or the control of civil a woman dying in the street of a blow tribunals, and amenable only to the inflicted by a student. He at onco rule of the Bishop and the sentence of tracked the murderer to his lodgings, his spiritual courts. This ecclesiastical and on his flight arrested two clerks character of the University revealed who shared the inn with him. John, itself in that of its head. The Chancel who was at Woodstock, gave judgment lor was at first no officer of the Univer a few days after in the cause, and by sity itself, but of the ecclesiastical corpo his order the two clerks were hung outration ander whose shadow it had sprung side the town. Daring as was the into life. At Oxford, where no great violation of ecclesiastical privilege, it abbey afforded its shelter to the student was without redress ; the royal courts as in the case of Paris, he was simply were closed against the clergy, the epithe local officer of the Bishop of Lincoln, scopal sentence of excommunication fell within whose immense diocese the unheeded at a time when the mightier University was at that time situated. Interdict of the Papacy was already held It was this identification in outer form in contempt.
The great bulk of the with the Church, widely as the spirit of three thousand scholars who had gathered the University might part from it, that there hurried indeed from the town, gave to the mob of boy-students a power but many remained, and the secession with which the Oxford burgesses had no produced no effect on the spirits of the means of coping. The humblest and townsmen. It was only when the subpoorest clerk in these streets could bring mission of John to the Papacy left on them the inunders of excommunica them without defence against the thuntion. Charters and privileges were waste ders of the Church that the burgesses paper against closed churches and flung themselves at the feet of the Legate silenced bells. The secular touch of a Nicholas, as John had flung himself at town bailiff transformed a disorderly the feet of the Legate Pandulf. Like student into a vindicator of the liberties the King, they had to expiate by an of the Church, and a mere street row outward humiliation their defiance of became part of the great struggle which Rome. Hard as the terms were, there had driven Anselm into exile and was no room for resistance. The Mayor brought Thomas to death.
with fifty burgesses of the town swore The danger was all the more deadly to surrender all students, if arrested, to that the new University entertained no the Bishop, Chancellors or Archdeacon. deliberate
purpose of destroying the The bodies of the two clerks were franchises of the town. Against the disinterred and transported by those of violence of the baron beneath whose the townsmen who had borne a share castle walls a little group of hovels had in their condemnation, to hallowed gathered, or the silent encroachments of ground. Once every ten years the