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of Eton, and the school on the model of Eton and Winchester
had long sunk into a bad elementary school.

The spirit of the Renaissance was indeed abroad in the
land, not only among the heretical and revolutionary Lollards,
and the trading and commercial classes, but now in the highest
and most orthodox clerical and political circles. Through
an unfortunate misrepresentation by the self-lauding reformers
of the sixteenth century, the Renaissance has in the educational
sphere come to be considered as synonymous with the intro-
duction of Greek into the curriculum of schools, and particu-
larly with Colet's statutes for the " newe Scole of Powles " in
1510, in which for the first time Greek was suggested as a de-
sideratum, though not demanded as a sine qua non, the High
master being required to be one who knew Greek " yf swyche
could be gotten ". It is one of the idolafori about the Renais-
sance that it was due to the introduction of Greek. The revival
of Greek was an effect, not the cause, of the Renaissance. Pet-
rarch is hailed as the morning star of the Renaissance, but
Petrarch's star had set a generation before there was a single
Greek teacher in Italy, while he himself had tried to learn Greek



THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY AND HUMANISM 247

and failed. The earliest of the Renaissance educators, Vergerius,
was born in the year of the Black Death, and was a man of
fame at fifty when in 1 397 he began to learn Greek grammar
with boys of fifteen under Chrysoloras at Florence. Peter
Paul Vergerius, for whom Purgatory would have been too good
for introducing the pernicious practice of having two Christian
names, published his work on a Liberal Education, De ingenuis
moribus, in 1404. Full as it is of educational platitudes,
borrowed from Quintilian and Cicero, it never suggests that
Greek is an element of a liberal education. Indeed, it la-
ments that Greek was utterly lost to Italy " except for one or
two who are tardily endeavouring to rescue something from
oblivion ". Vittorino da Feltre, who started his famous Palace
School at Mantua in 1414, was likewise born and bred and
had finished his education before Greek was introduced. The
first to advocate Greek as not indeed a necessary, but a desir-
able, part of education was Battista Guarino in 1459. The
warden of New College, Thomas Chandler, introduced Greek
lectures there by an Italian, Cornelio Vitelli, in 1465, and
William Grocyn, the first " Grecian " in England, who left
Winchester for New College in that or the following year,
learnt the rudiments from him. Grocyn, after travelling
abroad, became the first English teacher of Greek in Oxford in
1491. It was studied and presumably taught also at Magdalen
College where Lily, the first head master of Colet's school,
learnt it about that time. Nicholas Harpsfield, and other
Greek scholars and advancers of the study of Greek, almost
certainly learnt Greek at Winchester. William Horman,
scholar of Winchester in 1468, head master of Eton 1485
to 1494 and of Winchester 1494 to 1502, must have taught
Greek in both schools. His Vulgaria, a sort of Delectus,
published in 1519, but reproducing exercises given when
he was head master before 1502, is full of Greek phrases
and references to Greek, even to the performance of a Greek
play. Sir Thomas Pope, writing in 1556, bears specific testi-
mony that when he was " a young scoler at Eton, the Greek
tongue was growing apace, which is now much decayed ".
William Rightwise or Righteous, the first surmaster of St.
Paul's School, who knew Greek, was an Etonian, a little before
Pope.



248 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND .

But it was not the introduction of Greek at Winchester
and Eton, New College and Magdalen, and its appearance in
the statutes of St. Paul's School, which made them the great
schools and colleges of the day, and their scholars the
leading humanists of their age. On the contrary, Greek
was introduced in those colleges and schools because they
were the advanced institutions of the day. Because they
were scholarly and literary they took to Greek. It was not
Greek which made them scholarly and literary.

The very term Renaissance is misleading. There was no
new birth of learning wanted, because learning had never
died in schools at all events. The learning of Latin was
the whole aim and end of education in schools. The authors
read may have differed, though Virgil from first to last formed
the staple. Otherwise Horace and Juvenal may have given
way to Prudentius and Juvencus, and Cicero to Augustine, and
vice versa. But it is by no means clear that the latter were
not better stuff for the schoolboy than the former. There may
well have been more interest in a poet who believed in the God
of whom the boy knew than in Horace's sceptical references in a
mythological and antiquarian vein to the dying divinities of
Greece and Rome. If it be said that the Latin of the Christian
authors is inferior to that of their predecessors, we must ask
what is the standard of inferiority. To all alike Latin was
their native tongue. Is English as spoken to-day " inferior "
to that spoken by Shakespeare or Chaucer? It is certainly
very different. For people who wanted to know Latin, not
to write Latin verses in imitation of Virgil, but to speak it or
to read the latest work on theology or tactics or geography,
the Latin of Prudentius and Augustine, or even of Duns
Scotus, was as good or better than the Latin of Horace or
Cicero.

The true virtue of what is known as the Renaissance is
much better expressed in the term Humanism. It is not the
introduction of Greek or the imitation of Cicero, the preference
for the study of grammar over dialectic, or for the details of
philology instead of the niceties of logic, which constitute
the Renaissance. It was the substitution of humanism for
divinity, of this world for the next, as the object of living, and
therefore of education, that differentiated the humanists from




A UNIVERSITY LECTURE, EARLY FIFTEENTH CENTURY

BKIT. ML'S. MS. ROYAI. 17 E. III. f. 209



THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY AND HUMANISM 249

their predecessors. For a thousand years the attention of
educated mankind had been concentrated on its latter end, or
on what was feared to follow it. Not life but death had been
the subject of culture. Not how to prepare for life but how
to prepare for death was the sole object of education. The
humanists' progress consisted in the adoption of the dogma,
" The noblest study of mankind is man ". In preaching and
practising Cicero in place of Lactantius, Petrarch substituted
political for theological study. His own Ciceronian Latin, of
which he and his age were so proud, is spoken of by Erasmus
with almost the same contempt with which he spoke of his prede-
cessors, or as our scholars speak of Erasmus. " He wants full
acquaintance with the language, and his whole diction shows
the rudeness of the preceding age ", said Erasmus. An
Italian writer, quoted by Hallam, describes Petrarch's style still
more unkindly, as " scarcely bearing the character of Latinity ".

The methods of the humanist educators show little differ-
ence from those of their predecessors. Though the Roman
politician, very much idealized, is substituted by Vittorino
da Feltre and P. P. Vergerius for the starving monks and
ascetic unwashed as the ideal, the means of approaching the
ideal were not greatly altered. Asceticism still shed its bane-
ful shade. Vergerius' Liberal Education lays it down that
" dancing should be kept at a distance and the society of
women carefully avoided ". " Never is it allowable to eat,
drink, or sleep up to the point of complete satisfaction."

./Eneas Sylvius, afterwards Pope Pius II, brought up himself
in the humanist atmosphere, advising the King of Bohemia
and Hungary "On the Education of Boys" in 1450, still
speaks, in the words of Wykeham in 1382, of grammar as the
doorway to all knowledge. Vittorino da Feltre recommends
" old Donatus", as did Wykeham, and puts the Doctrinale, the
grammar in doggerel Latin verse, of Alexander de villa Dei,
a Dominican friar of 1 240, into the hands of Cecilia Gonzaga,
daughter of the tyrant of Mantua, at the age of six. The
results of humanist education in her case, by the way, do not
seem to have been very different from those of the theologians,
as the poor girl became a nun, Vittorino himself aiding and
abetting, and indeed instigating her, against her parents'
wishes. Nicholas Perotti, a pupil of Vittorino's, first tried to



250 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

oust Alexander. Grammar was now defined as "ars recte
loquendi recteque scribendi scriptorum et poetarum lectionibus
observata ", and as being " initium et fundamentum omnium dis-
ciplinarum". But this was no new definition or description.
It is as old as Dionysius Thrax, c. 1 66 B.C., and through
Quintilian, Donatus and Priscian descended to Alcuin and all
the schoolmasters of the Middle Ages.

The pedagogic works of Vergerius and JEneas Sylvius and
others were not new in substance. If based on Quintilian on
the one side, they were borrowed on the other from Friar
Vincent of Beauvais' Education of the Sons of Nobles, addressed
about 1250 to Queen Margaret of France, wife of Louis IX,
and this was itself largely borrowed from Hugo's Scholastic
Discipline. The main difference consists in the object laid
down. Whereas the thirteenth century friar says that "all the
studies of learners ought to be for theology, that is, to tend to
the knowledge of God", his fifteenth century followers aim at
moulding " the nature of man as a citizen, an active member
of the State". Oddly enough both refer to Aristotle in sup-
port of their doctrine. There appear to be two novelties in
the means used and two only ; one, that in Vincent and his
predecessors little or nothing is said about bodily exercise and
training, while in the humanists this, with its corollary of
spacious grounds and handsome school buildings, becomes
prominent. But it may well be that environment accounted for
that difference. The sons of the king of France in the first
half of the thirteenth century were not likely to lack space for
hunting and instruction in the art of war. The children of
a city tyrant, the sovereign Lord Mayor of an Italian city,
cramped within its walls, might well lack the same opportuni-
ties. Vittorino's school, or rather collection of private pupils,
was placed in La Giocosa, a converted "pleasure-house" with
a large enclosed meadow, bordered by the river, exactly like
Meads at Winchester or the Playing-fields at Eton. This in-
novation was probably an unmixed good.

Chaucer was par excellence a product of the Renaissance
and breathes the humanist spirit in every line. But he was
no isolated phenomenon. Many Englishmen besides him
were brought into direct contact with the Italian humanists
and Italy, whether bishops and archdeacons and canon



THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY AND HUMANISM 251

lawyers or traders and merchants. The Council of Constance
was almost a school of humanists. Henry V, though from
political motives a persecutor of the Lollards, yet designed,
according to John Rous, the Warwick historian, a great college
at Oxford for the Seven Sciences, to be endowed with the vast
possessions of the alien priories. " The good duke Hum-
phry " of Gloucester, the Protector of Henry VI, made the
Council of Basle in 1432 a means of getting from Italian
scholars translations of the Greek philosophers and the Greek
fathers into Latin, and of Boccaccio into French.

Henry VI, far more than Edward VI, deserves to be re-
membered as a founder of English schools and as an eminent
promoter, though by no means creator, of English education.
Like his successor, the boy-King suffered personally from over-
education. On i June, 1428, his education, which since 1424
had been in the hands of Dame Alice Boteler, was transferred
from the lady to Richard, Earl of Warwick and Albemarle.
" Whereas ", says a writ of Privy Seal in French," it is expedi-
ent that in our youth we should be taught and indoctrinated
in bons meures lettrure langagee nurture et courtoisie et autres
vertus et enseignements, (translated in annexed articles in Eng-
lish as ' nurture, lettrure (i.e. grammar), language and other
manere of connyng'), "and, above all, *de nous faire traire a
vertues et eschuer vices ', (to draw us to virtues and to eschewing
of vices) " ; therefore the earl was given power, " if we estrange
ourselves from learning or do wrong, to reasonably chastise us
as other princes of our realm and of other realms are accus-
tomed to be chastised ". The earl must have found the
young King a difficult pupil to flog. For four years later, on
29 November, 1432, when the King was eleven years old, the
earl laid before the council a series of articles. In one he said
that the King " is growen in stature of his person and also in
conceit and knowlech of heigh and royal authoritee and estat,
the which naturally causen him more and more to grucche
[grudge] with chastising and to lothe it ". So he asked, not
to leave off chastising him, but for the support of the council
in doing it, and in appeasing any indignation the King might
feel against him for doing it, with power to remove those
whom he knew " at part and in prive not hering ye said Erie "
had " stured " Henry " from his lernyng ". The whole council



252 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

promised to tell the King that it was their advice that he
should be chastised for his " defaultes ", so that " for awe there-
of he forbere ye more to do mys and entende ye more busily
to vertue and to lernyng ".

That Henry did not resent the Spartan training which War-
wick thought necessary, is shown by his making his quondam
tutor and chastiser Duke of Warwick, the first duke in Eng-
land not of royal blood. Henry was not educated alone, as
the tenants-in-chief on the royal estates were invited to send
their sons to be brought up with him in the palace. His ex-
perience of this school, an arrangement almost certainly made
in imitation of the Casa Giacosa established by Gonzaga, the
Marquis of Mantua, for his son and his nobles' children under
Vittorino da Feltre in 1423, was no doubt largely responsible
for Henry's foundation of Eton College, within view of his
birthplace and favourite residence at Windsor Castle, with its
twenty sons of noblemen.

Eton was by no means the first of Henry's educational
foundations. He, or rather the Duke of Bedford, the Regent
of France, in his name, had already established a university at
Caen in 1432, at first only for civil and canon law, which was
not allowed at Paris, but extended, after the English were ex-
pelled from the capital, to theology and medicine, in the hope
of keeping the subjects of the English King away from Paris.
In 1441 another university was established for Henry's southern
dominions at Bordeaux.

By letters patent of II October, 1440, Henry, then
eighteen years old, having just taken on himself the govern-
ment, declared his desire " as a sort of first-fruits ", to " show
like his ancestors his devotion to the Church". But whereas
this devotion had in them taken the shape of monasteries,
in him it took almost as a matter of course the form of a
college or collegiate church, in which a school was a leading,
in this case a predominant, feature. So by the patent he
founded in the parish church of Eton " the King's College of
Oure Ladye of Eton besyde Wyndesore " to consist of a pro-
vost, ten priests (the fellows), four clerks, "six chorister boys,
daily to serve at divine worship, and twenty-five poor and
needy scholars to learn grammar there ", and " twenty-five poor
and disabled men to pray for the souls " of his father and mother



THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY AND HUMANISM 253

and all his forefathers and all the faithful departed ; also " a
Master or Informator in grammar to teach the said needy
scholars and all others from any part of England coming there,
gratis, without exaction of money or anything else ". In other
words Eton was a free grammar school, but from the first non-
local, open, free from tuition fees, to the nation at large. The
college was licensed to hold property up to the value of 1000
marks (,666 133. 4d.) a year, equivalent to at least 20,000
a year now. Shortly after, on 12 February, 1441, King
Henry founded another college, in Cambridge University, con-
sisting of a rector and twelve fellows, by the name of King's
College of St. Nicholas, so called because 6 December, the
king's birthday, was the day of St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron
saint of schoolboys. There was in Eton church before 1425
a chantry of St. Nicholas, and it is quite possible that the
chantry priest of this church was also a grammar schoolmaster,
and that this partly suggested the choice of Eton for the site
of the college school. There was at first no organic connexion
between Eton and the Cambridge college. The immediate
model of the two colleges was the college school at Higham
Ferrers in Northamptonshire and the College of All Souls at
Oxford, founded by Henry Chicheley, Archbishop of Canter-
bury, Henry's godfather, in 1422 and 1438 respectively. But
these were only copies on a smaller scale of the two colleges 01
St. Mary founded by William of Wykeham at Oxford in 1379
and Winchester in 1382.

In his college school at Higham Ferrers, Chicheley incor-
porated two pre-existing foundations, the grammar school and
a Bede-house or almshouse. In the school he had no doubt
been himself educated before getting a scholarship at Win-
chester. The deed in French has just been published from John
of Gaunt's Register, by which, as Duke of Lancaster and Lord
of Higham, he on 21 April, 1372, appointed Henry Barton of
Great Billing master of the grammar school (les escoles de
gramoir) to teach all those scholars and children (escolers et
enfaunts] who wished to train in the faculty of grammar there,
to have and to hold in manner heretofore used for term of
his life, provided that he behave himself well and duly in the
said office. Barton was a married man, for when he died
in 1399, after having served the office of mayor and other



254 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

public offices several times in alternation with Chicheley's
father, Agnes late relict of Henry Barton, schole mayster de
Higham Ferrers, did fealty on I October, 1 399, for a burgage
which she held for her life with reversion to the children of
the said Henry, and next year, Thomas, son of the late Henry
Barton, scholemayster, did fealty by his mother, as he was
under age, for another burgage. The appointment of Barton's
successor as schoolmaster by Henry IV in May, 1400, is also
preserved. Chicheley improved on Wykeham by providing
that one of the eight chaplains or fellows of which the college
consisted might be the grammar schoolmaster and another the
song schoolmaster, thus making the masters integral members
of the governing body of the foundation instead of stipendiary
officers only. So in the reign of Henry VIII the grammar
schoolmaster, Nicholas Stere, was the best paid of the fellows,
the warden receiving 14 133. 4d. a year and the grammar
schoolmaster 10 133. 4d. while the other fellows only received
7 I2s. 2d.

A foundation which probably had a considerable influ-
ence on Henry was that of Michael de la Pole, one of the
Poles of Hull, who in three generations had risen from being
merchants of that seaport, a new foundation of Edward Ill's,
to the Earldom of Suffolk. He founded in 1432, at his wifes
place, Ewelme in Oxfordshire, an almshouse and grammar
school, the outside of which retains all its ancient picturesque-
ness though the inside has suffered from the vandalism of the
Education authorities, converting the ancient grammar school
into a wretched apology for a new elementary school, for the
sake of saving a few shillings to the ratepayers' pockets, instead
of building them a new one. De la Pole provided for a master
who was to be a preacher, and is now the Regius Professor of
Medicine at Oxford, to whose office the mastership was an-
nexed by James I, and a master in grammar " a wele dis-
posed man, apte and able to techyng of gramer, to whose
office it shall longe and perteyne diligently to teche and
informe chylder in the faculte of gramer; provyded that
all the chylder of oure chapelle, of the tenauntes of our lord-
shyp of Ewelme and of the lordshypes perteynyng to the
sayde Almesse Howse, now present and at alle tymes to com,
frely be tawt withoute exaccion of any scole-hire ". No less




ARCHBISHOP CHICHELEY, FOUNDER OF HICHAM FERRERS COLLEGE
AND SCHOOL, 1422, AND ALL SOULS' COLLEGE, OXFORD, 1438



THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY AND HUMANISM 255

than three lordships or manors were given for the endowment.
The "Techer in grammer " received the same pay as the
" Maystyr ", viz. "for his pension and stipende termely, 503.
that is to say 10 in the yere". To prevent slackness on his
part it was provided that if it so fortune, he have not " ore
four childer that actually lernes gramer besides pettites and
reders, that thanne he shal say matyns and evensonge dayly
in the said churche of Ewelme with the seide mayster before
the seide pore men " that is, become an ordinary chantry priest.

The Earl of Suffolk was the only layman among Henry's
principal agents in founding Ewelme with its almshouse
attached.

Another college and school foundation on similar lines to
that of Higham Ferrers may well have influenced Henry ;
the College of St. Gregory and St. Martin, founded at Wye,
Kent, by John Kemp, Archbishop of York, who, like Wykeham,
had been twice Lord Chancellor of England. Born at Wye,
he was a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and a canon
lawyer, and became Chicheley's Vicar-General and Dean of the
Arches, and Chancellor of Normandy. The date generally
attributed to his college is 1447 ; but in point of fact he
obtained the royal licence for it on 10 February, 1432 (not
1431, as given in the local history through the usual confu-
sion of the year of the Lord and the year of the King) and
actually founded the college very shortly after, asking Battle
Abbey, the impropriators of the living, to sell the vicarage
and a site for a college of a " maister and six priests, two
clerks and two queristers, and over that a maister of gramer
that shal frely teche withoutyn anything takyng of hem al
thos that wol come to his techyng ". Like Chicheley, he
bought from Henry the possessions of an Alien Priory,
Newington church, which belonged to the Abbess of Guisnes,
for endowment, thus giving more archiepiscopal sanction to
the appropriation of monastic property to secular clergy and
education. When he, then a cardinal, finally made his
statutes, 14 January, 1448 (not 1447), he provided that the
provost should be a fellow of Merton, and that the second
person in the college should be the master or instructor in
grammar. As " the rudiments of grammar are the first foun-
dation for the understanding of the other liberal arts and
sciences, lest its study should be omitted and the sons of poor



256 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

people be driven to desert it through lack of means", he
ordered that there should be a master diligently intent on
teaching it. He was to be a master in that faculty or a gra-
duate in some other faculty, or some other member of the Uni-
versity of Oxford or Cambridge, fully instructed in grammar,
who, if he was a priest, should be admitted a fellow of the
college, and for more honour sit next to the provost or
his deputy at table. He was to teach freely (gratis), exact-
ing nothing and taking nothing from his scholars whether
poor or rich. Then follows a somewhat remarkable pro-
vision for that time for private pupils. "If, out of school
and at times when he is not obliged to be occupied in school,
he wishes to give greater attention to the teaching of any, we
do not forbid his being paid for that labour only, provided
that, as his oath requires, the common (i.e., public) teaching is
in no way diminished by the private". Among the causes for
his dismissal, besides negligence in teaching and incapacity
through age or illness, is " if he shows any partiality in
college or school ". If he was merely infirm he might retain
his fellowship, giving up the mastership, the pay for which
was to be matter of arrangement. In the admission oath of the
master it was expressly provided that he was 'to teach the poor
and the rich indifferently, and to take nothing except what
was voluntarily offered, except as aforesaid, " besides the cus-
tomary offering of cocks (i.e., on Shrove Tuesday) and of St



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