The Schools of Medieval England

By A. F. Leach | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE SCHOOLS OF NORTHUMBRIA: BEDE AND ALCUIN

IN the eighth century the centre of interest in English schools is to be found no longer in the south but in the north. As in the seventh century English learning was embodied in the names of Theodore and Aldhelm, so now it is connected with the names of Bede and Alcuin.

The beginning of education in Northumbria has been often attributed to Bede and of York School itself to Archbishop Egbert. But just as Canterbury School must be attributed to Augustine, and not to Archbishop Theodore, who taught it, so York School must be attributed, not to the later archbishop who taught it, but to Paulinus, the founder and first bishop of the church of York. The continuance of the song school under James the Deacon after Paulinus' flight is indirect testimony to the fact that Paulinus had established both grammar and song schools there, and to the revival also of the grammar school with the return of Christianity. The learned and Romanizing Wilfrid is not likely to have neglected the grammar school any more than the song school. In regard to the latter we learn from Eddi, whose Christian name was Stephen, that on Wilfrid's return to Yorkshire from Canterbury, where he acted as bishop during the vacancy of the see before the Greek Theodore's arrival, he took back with him the singers (cantatores), Eddi and Eonan, and masons, and instructors in almost every craft (artis). Eddi was the biographer himself. Bede, rather inconsistently with what he had said before, says, "and from this time in all the English churches they began to learn the tones of the chants (sonos cantandi) which till then they had only known at Canterbury; and the first song master in the Northumbrian churches, except James abovementioned, was Æddi, surnamed Stephen, who was invited from

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