Thirteenth Century

students, universities, modern, university, time, life, various, matter, education and graduate

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

All the fittings and furnishings of the cathe dral, even the least obtrusive, partook of the same surpassing qualities. Dark corners were not left unfinished for it was the house of God. Every detail was the object of loving devotion. The needlework of the time is probably the best in history. The cope of Ascoli (circa 1280) is looked upon as the most beautiful ever made. The church vestments and hangings were charmingly worked. The precious vessels for the altar were gems of the metal workers' art, of exquisite line and form, delicately finished and appropriately set with jewels. The Mass books, as well as the Books of Hours, used by the educated worshippers, were so beautifully illuminated that they have been marvels ever since and command high prices in the auction-rooms. Manifestly, there was nothing that the people of the time wanted to do well which they did not accomplish with a marvelous perfection. Their domestic and municipal furnishings partook of the same ex cellence. The very utensils in the lcitchen were beautiful as well as useful and the combination of the two qualities in ordinary life has been declared the criterion of culture in the hearts of a people.

The historic life of the century cenfres around the cathedrals very much as their social life centred around it in the cities and towns. Their education came into existence as the de velopment of cathedral schools and these were usually placed under the rectorship of the chancellor of the cathedral.. The shidia gen eralia, as the universities were called because they provided education in so many different subjects, grew into their modern form during the courses of the cen tury. At the beginning a few cities, Salerno, Montpelier, Bologna and Paris and one or two others, had rather important schools of special subjects around which various faculties gradu ally gathered. By the end of the century there were some 20 important universities in our modern sense of the word with large under graduate departments and as a rule the three graduate departments of theology, law and medicine. The course of study for under graduates was summed up by Huxley in his in augural address as rector of Aberdeen Uni versity: "I doubt if the curriculum of any modern university shows so clear and generous a comprehension of what is meant by culture as this old trivium and quadrivium? The seven liberal arts, as the trivium and quadrivium were also called, constituted the undergraduate university studies of grammar, logic and rhetoric, geometry, astronomy, theology and music.

All of these subjects were treated from a scientific standpoint and these were really scientific universities. The study of the classics as the basis of undergraduate education did not come in until the Renaissance time. Hence Huxley's candid admiration for these old-time universities so that he did not hesitate to say that °their work brought them face to face with all the leading aspects of the many-sided mind of man." The philosophical teaching particularly anticipated many modern ideas. Matter and form as the explanation of the composition of matter resembles the modern physical chemistry theory that all matter con sists of an underlying substratum the same in everything and differentiated into various sub stances by the dynamic elements which enter into it. The scholastics taught that matter and

force could be annihilated by the power that brought them to existence, but not destroyed by any human agency, thus anticipating the modern experimental demonstration of the in destructibility of matter and the conservation of energy. They faced the ethical problems of mankind, especially those which concern social relations, exactly in the same spirit which the modern world, after a rather long interval of failure to recognize human rights as superior to those of property, has come around to again. In writing on capital and labor for our time Pope Leo XIII quoted the ethics of Saint Thomas Aquinas, drawn up more than six cen turies before.

The numbers in attendance at the universi ties at the end of this century were probably larger in proportion to the population of the various countries than at any time in the his tory of education down to our own day. The universities of Bologna and of Paris had, dur ing the last quarter of the century, more students than any university of modern times. Oxford and Cambridge were more numerously attended than at any time afterward. Some of the students were boys of 12 or 13 but gradua tion was earlier than with us as it is still in most foreign countries. On the other hand many mature students remained at the univer sity for years listening to a favorite professor or working up some special theme. The literary output of the universities in philosophy and theology as well as from the graduate depart ments generally was extensive. Original work was encouraged, though it was the subject of severe criticism. Groups at various universities were engaged in encyclopedic research and publication. A series of summar of knowledge in general and of special departments was made.

The discipline of the immense numbers of students represented a problem which was solved by sharing disciplinary regulation with students committees chosen by the Nations, that is, the organizations of the students from particular parts of Europe in attendance at the university. The Nations were fraternal unions which helped the student when he first came to the university to orient himself and get settled for his university work. They protected students against impositions and furnished in formation with regard to courses and pro fessors. Many of the features of modern life at our universities were thus anticipated. Initia tions accompanied by hazing were common practices and the Nations provided recreation of various kinds. On the other hand when students were ailing or when remittances from home were delayed by the vicissitudes of the times, help was provided and students were tided over crises in their affairs. A number of abuses crept into university life through these organizations and conflicts between town and gown are noted before the end of the 13th cen tury, but it was later in the history of univer sities that these became so intolerable as to demand correction. In the early history of the universities the students were as important a factor at least as the faculty and new univer sities were often founded by the withdrawal of dissatisfied students to some other town.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7