Universities in Tudor England

Universities in Tudor England

Universities in Tudor England

Universities in Tudor England

Excerpt

An earlier booklet in this series described elementary and grammar-school training in Tudor England. The present essay attempts to sketch very briefly the organization and work of the two universities, Oxford and Cambridge. It is limited to those institutions as places of teaching and learning; it does not consider such interesting but extraneous topics as college architecture, which is better studied on the site.

Universities were a medieval product, a manifestation of intellectual activity in certain cities in the twelfth century. Universitas, a word meaning simply guild or corporation, came to be used of associations of scholars which had curricula, rules of government, recognition by some authority, and power to confer degrees. Oxford and Cambridge were formal associations of this kind. Essentially they were, and still are, corporations of Masters, Fellows, and Scholars engaged in teaching and learning the "arts" (including philosophy) and sciences. As corporations, early universities had two common forms, one typified by Bologna and the other represented by Paris and imitated by British and later by North American universities. Bologna, reputed the oldest university, was organized in the fashion often longed for by modern undergraduates: it was controlled by the students, who even hired and fired professors and prescribed their duties. Paris, on the other hand, was a guild of Masters of Arts, mature scholars who both taught and ruled the younger men.

Medieval university work was professional in aims. Most students were graduate students looking forward to careers in law, medicine, or theology. But since professional studies were not, as a rule, taken up until one became Bachelor of Arts, universities necessarily included undergraduates also. Members . . .

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