The Literacy of the Laity in the Middle Ages

The Literacy of the Laity in the Middle Ages

The Literacy of the Laity in the Middle Ages

The Literacy of the Laity in the Middle Ages

Excerpt

Literacy during the Middle Ages may be measured almost wholly by the extent of the knowledge and use of the Latin language.

Among many problems in the history of medieval culture one of the most obscure is the question of how extensively and how deeply a knowledge of Latin obtained among the laity. By the laity, of course, is here meant the upper class of medieval society, or the no- blesse; for the illiteracy of the common people is not open to question. The interrogation is in itself a challenge to the old and widely accepted opinion which since the Italian Renaissance has held that illiteracy was almost universal, so far as the laity is concerned, throughout the medieval period, that is, before the thirteenth century.

It would be beside the mark to append a list of the standard works on the history of medieval education, for the good reason that none of them has given any attention to this subject. Even historians of medieval culture have ignored this theme. Apart from a few rare. articles, information upon the education and literary ability of the noble class in the Middle Ages must be searched for in the sources of the period. Unless I am greatly mistaken, this monograph fills a gap in the history of medieval education.

J. W. T.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.