practices, they also provided the conditions for the discovery of new knowledge. Such basic matters as accents in language and the system of musical notation were invented in monasteries.
Far from being a period of "darkness," the medieval period (from about 500 to 1500) was a time of educational and intellectual ferment. Charlemagne's effort to spread education without regard to students' social background is still a goal of most governments and is certainly a centerpiece of American educational effort. Aquinas's reconciliation of faith with scientific investigation remains not only a brilliant solution to a serious problem but also a practical source of rapprochement for two major and contradictory intellectual thrusts in the Western world.
Not the least of the medieval period's contributions to education was the university. Such terms as chancellor, dean, college, faculty, and university are Roman labels that traveled a long way toward acquiring their modern meanings under the monastics. The medieval university was more than an extension of classical studies and Roman labels; it was a new structure. For good or ill the central educational symbol of modern society, the university--including the central concept of licensing and professionalizing knowledge--had its birth in monastic Europe. The Renaissance and Reformation, discussed in the next two chapters, elaborated and further developed what medieval Europeans had saved and invented.