Academic journal article Medium Aevum

English School Exercises, 1420-1530

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

English School Exercises, 1420-1530

Article excerpt

Nicholas Orme, English School Exercises, 1420-1530 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2013). x + 441 pp. ISBN 978-0-88844-181-2. £57.38.

Manuscript evidence makes clear that the basics of Latin grammar were often taught by means of illustrative sentences, composed by schoolmasters, that schoolboys either memorized, imitated, or translated into English. Such pedagogy seems to have given students not yet ready to learn or translate quotations or selections from literary poetry or prose some practical contact with Latin syntax, although such substitutions for the classics were eventually condemned by humanists (such as Roger Ascham) as corrupting. The scholarship on elementary learning in England has long had a few examples of these exercises in articles by Max Förster (in a Festschrift edited by Stollreither), Sanford Meech (.Modern Philology 38), and W. A. Pantin (Bulletin of theJohn Rylands Library 14), and a varied selection in John Miner's The Grammar Schools of Medieval England (pp. 15 5-62) and its appendices. But Nicholas Orme has now done the history of education and the whole field of medieval literary studies a great service by carefully editing and translating the twelve largest surviving collections of such sentences (often themselves sections of much larger schoolbooks), in each case also carefully editing the English prompts or translations that accompany them. The earliest of these books (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Lincoln College Lat. …

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