Readings in the History of Education eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 163 pages of information about Readings in the History of Education.

[Footnote 2:  R.L.  Poole, Illustrations from the History of Medieval Thought, p. 109.]

[Footnote 3:  Petri Abaelardi Opera, edd.  Cousin et Jourdain, I, p. 25.]



The influences contributing to the rise of universities were numerous, and in many cases obscure.  The most important were:  1.  Inspiring and original teachers, who gathered about them great numbers of students. 2.  A new method of teaching. 3.  A new group of studies. 4.  Privileges granted to scholars and masters by civil and ecclesiastical authorities. 5.  The direct initiative of those authorities in establishing universities by decree.  The readings which follow are chosen to illustrate these influences.


(a) A Pre-University Teacher:  Abelard

Among the teachers of the early part of the twelfth century, two were of especial significance in the later intellectual development of the period,—­Irnerius (ca. 1070-1130) at Bologna, and Abelard (1079-1142) at Paris.  They were the forerunners of the universities which began to take form at the end of the twelfth century in those cities.  Irnerius marks a new epoch in the study of the body of Roman Law; following the traditions of teaching which he established, the University of Bologna became the most prominent school of law in Europe.  In a similar way Abelard marks at Paris the introduction of a new method of teaching and investigation, an attitude of intellectual independence on theological questions, and a permanently influential position in scholastic philosophy; following his initiative the University of Paris became the leading school of Philosophy and Theology.  These two institutions,—­Bologna and Paris,—­were in turn the models for all other mediaeval universities, not only in organization, but also so far as the study of Law, Theology, and Philosophy was concerned.  Hence, indirectly, the influence of Abelard and Irnerius was widely diffused and long continued.

The documents relating to Irnerius are scanty.  For a discussion of his influence on the teaching of Roman Law, see Rashdall, I, ch. iv, and especially pages 121-127.  Concerning Abelard the records are abundant.

Abelard, the eldest son of a noble family of Pallet (Palais), Brittany, was in his day the most renowned teacher in France.  Instead of becoming the head of his family and adopting the career of a soldier, he abandoned his birthright and the profession of arms for the life of the scholar and the battlefields of debate.  His early life as a student wandering from school to school is thus described by himself: 

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