The Schools of Medieval England

The Schools of Medieval England

The Schools of Medieval England

The Schools of Medieval England

Excerpt

This is the first attempt at a history of English Schools before the Reformation, reckoned from the accession of Edward VI. It is surprising and yet not surprising that such a history has never been attempted before. It is surprising in view of the interest of the subject and the wealth of illustrative material; but it is not surprising when it is remembered that, before the year 1892, few guessed and fewer knew that there were any public or grammar school-- two terms for the same thing--in England at all, except Winchester and Eton, before the reputed creation of schools by that boy king. If anyone was pressed with the problem how learned persons from John of Salisbury in the twelfth to Cardinal Wolsey in the sixteenth century obtained the schooling which fitted them for their university careers, the solution was invariably sought in some monastery near their birthplace, which was, without the smallest proof, credited with keeping a school. If one asked what was taught in these monastic schools one was told, psalm-singing and a little elementary Latin grammar: a fine preparation truly for the Polycraticus, or the statutes of Cardinal College.

Dr. Furnivall, the author of the best historical account of education and schools of England, in the introduction to his Babees' Book, published by the Early English Text Society in 1868, informed me in 1892, in answer to a request for help in research into the history of grammar schools, that there were no grammar schools in England before Edward VI. Soon convinced to the contrary, he was always ready to impart instances of earlier schools which he came across in his wide reading in ancient manuscripts and books.

Yet long after the facts had been published, when the . . .

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