The Schools of Medieval England

By A. F. Leach | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE ERA OF SCHOOL STATUTES

AT some time unknown before 1306 a new departure was taken in organizing the Grammar Schools at Oxford which appears to point to a considerable increase in their number, accompanied perhaps by a falling off or failure in the supply of regent masters, to whom, under the "Ancient Statutes no longer in modern use", their management was till then entrusted. For at a specially solemn congregation held at the beginning of Michaelmas term 1306, at which the Archdeacon of Oxford and the Bishop of Lincoln's Official Principal were present, representing the special episcopal control over grammar schools, perhaps in the absence of the Chancellor (for otherwise that control was exercised by him), it was provided that two M.A.'s should be yearly elected to superintend the grammar schools. If it had not been for the addition of the words "as has been the custom", we might have supposed this to be an entirely new arrangement, whereas apparently it was only the statutable and episcopal recognition of what had already been the practice. The superintending masters were to be paid a salary, as to which it is somewhat mystically stated "that saving the proper seat of the vice-monitor, the whole residue should be divided into two equal parts, to be applied one to the M.A.'s and the other to the vice-monitor"; and, to prevent fraud, the two M.A.'s were to collect this salary together. Who was the vice-monitor? In the Merton School documents the vice-monitor seems to be the same as the Hostiarius or usher. He appears also at this time in the Grammar School of Canterbury and in that of St. Alban's, and he is probably the usher or second master, who is also mentioned. But why the usher should have half the salary collected besides his own special fees as usher, and where

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