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'Get up' (Surgite) at 3 p.m., when they have beavers or
bever," an interval for drinking beer, the equivalent of the
modern afternoon tea. Malim recalls the line : " Porta Latina
pilam, pulvinar, pocula prestat", i.e. " St. John Lateran's day
brings the ball, the bed, the beer ".

Ascension Day began the summer holidays, which lasted
till the day before Corpus Christi Day, the Thursday after
Trinity Sunday, anyone not present at evening chapel on that
day being flogged. On St. John the Baptist's birthday, Mid-
summer Day, all the scholars went after evening prayers to a
bonfire, made in the open space at the east end of chapel, and
then, after the choir had sung their anthems, to a bever. On
the eve of that day the boys adorned their chambers with
pictures and verses on the " life and gests of the Forerunner ",
which they wrote out with illuminations and stuck at the foot
of their beds. As it was nearly nine before they went to bed,
they were allowed to lie in bed till six on the feast itself
instead of getting up at five. The same custom was observed
on 29 June, St. Peter and St. Paul. The custom, of the Eton
and Winchester match being always held on one of those two
feast days is perhaps ultimately due to this celebration. On
7 July, the Translation of St. Thomas (Becket), there was also



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 309

a bonfire, but no verses. At Eton, as at Winchester, the boy-
bishop was directed by the statutes to perform divine service
on St. Nicholas's Day, 6 December, and not on the usual day,
that of the Holy Innocents ; to avoid clashing with the estab-
lished boy-bishop celebrations of the choristers of the cathedral
and of St. George's respectively. Originally mixed up with
the boy-bishop was the custom that on St. Andrew's Day (30
November) the schoolmaster used to choose the best and
most appropriate stage plays, i.e. plays of Terence or Plautus,
" which the boys perform sometimes in public during the
Christmas holidays, not without the elegance of the games
(sc. of Rome), before a popular audience ". Altogether the six-
teenth-century schoolboy before the Reformation did not have
such a bad time of it.

It is curious that at the very time when these curricula
showing a diversity of grammars were sent to Saffron Walden,
steps were being taken by Convocation, under Henry's guidance,
to enforce uniformity in the school equally with uniformity in
the Church. In 1529 it laid down, as often before, and with
as little effect, that schoolmasters should be orthodox as well
as learned, and teach the rudiments of faith as well as of
grammar, and prohibited books likely to infect boys' minds
being read in school. Convocation broke new ground, when
it proceeded to complain that, often through the plague raging
in places where public schools were, or through a master's
death, a boy who had learnt grammar for a year or two under
one teacher had to continue under another who had a different
method, and was laughed at or put back accordingly. For
remedy Convocation directed that only one grammar should
be put before boys, and that one to be prescribed within a
year by the Archbishop, and a committee of four bishops, four
abbots, and four archdeacons.

This was probably the first step towards the universal, or
at least general, adoption of, the grammar, the joint composition
of Colet, Lily, and Erasmus, issued in 1513 by Colet to Lily,
commonly known as Lily's Grammar, and adopted by Cardinal
Wolsey for his school at Ipswich. It contained the Accidence
in English and the Syntax in Latin. The preface to Wolsey's
book dated 1528, printed by Peter Treveris in 1529, states
that this grammar was already "prescribed not only for



310 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

Ipswich School, happily established by the Lord Thomas,
Cardinal of York, but also for all the other schools of the
whole of England ". This seems to show that Convocation
was only adopting what was perhaps already enunciated by
Wolsey's legatine authority. The exclusive use of this grammar
was later prescribed by the King in a proclamation, the date
of which has never been exactly ascertained, first mentioned
in a copy printed by Bartlet in 1542. So successful was the
prescription that for thirty-four years this grammar, slightly
revised in 1758 and re-christened the Eton Latin Grammar,
reigned without a rival in the schools of England, and was
only superseded by the Public Schools Latin Primer in 1 867.

Another example of Henry's zeal for education was the
strenuous attempt made, in ushering in the reform of the
Church, to enforce the duty of promoting education on
wealthy ecclesiastics. Through Thomas Cromwell, Privy
Seal, Vice-gerent of the King in causes ecclesiastical, at a
general visitation held in 1536, he put forward the follow-
ing quaintly-worded injunction :

"And to the intent that learned men may hereafter springe
the more, every beneficed man having yerely to dispend in
benefices and other promotions of the church ^100, shall gyve
competent exhibition to one scolar", and for any additional
100 another scholar "in the universitie of Oxford or Cam-
bridge or some grammer scole ". The object is stated to be
that after these scholars have profited in good learning they
may be partners in their patrons' cure and charge as well in
preaching as otherwise in the execution of their offices. But
the lawgiver did not forget the State, for he adds " or may
otherwyse profite the common wealth with their counsell and
wysdom ".

Henry VIII's chief work in education consisted in re-
foundation and improvement, not in creation of new schools,
but he did it on a scale which entitles him to the praise of be-
ing, in a sense, the greatest of school founders.

It has been commonly assumed that in abolishing the
monasteries he abolished a large number of schools, and a
saying of an Elizabethan Speaker to the effect that I oo schools
had disappeared has been cited as referring to monastic schools.
This assumption is founded on the erroneous notion that the



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 311

monasteries were or kept schools. There were of course, as
we have seen, a large number of schools under the government
and trusteeship of monasteries. But as far as is known the
payments made by them in respect of their mastership was
continued. Thus at Reading the grammar school which we
saw handed over to the abbey on its foundation had been, by
some obscure arrangement in which Robert Sherborne was in-
terested, planted in a decayed hospital for widows and given
ten marks a year. At the dissolution the master was Leonard
Cox, an Etonian, who wrote the first English text-book on
Rhetoric and a preface to a school-book on French. When the
abbey was dissolved on 10 February, 1541, the King granted
him by patent the office of master or preceptor of the grammar
school of Reading, and an annuity of 10 a year, charged on the
royal manor of Chelsea. A similar course was taken at Bru-
ton. So at Evesham, the school which, according to nineteenth
century historians, was founded in 1546, but according to the
chantry commissioners of 1548 had existed and been endowed
with 10 a year from the reign of Edward III, was continued.
This payment was now charged on the Crown revenue of
Worcestershire. James I, incorporating the borough in 1605,
confirmed the payment to the corporation, and seized the op-
portunity of calling the school after his son, " Prince Henry's
Grammar School " by which name it is still known a name
which induced a recent clerical historian of the English
Church to assert that Henry VIII had destroyed the old school.
So at Sherborne, imputed to the wise system of Edward VI's
schools, we found Thomas Copeland, a secular, master of
Sherborne School, living outside the abbey and subscribing
handsomely to the rebuilding of the hospital or almshouse of
the two St. Johns in 1437. The school went quietly on after
the dissolution of the monastery and the master was made
the first master of the re-endowed school in 1550. The schools
which Henry abolished in abolishing the monasteries were the
small and insignificant almonry schools of a few charity boys,
and these he more than replaced by the great schools which he
established in the new cathedral foundations.

The abolition of the greater monasteries in 1 540 resulted
in the refoundation of twelve grammar schools as part of the
cathedrals " of the new foundation ", in which the monks who had



312 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

600 years before turned out the canons were now in turn turned
out to make room for canons. In all the new cathedrals
established in 1 541, including Westminster but excepting Win-
chester, " because of that noble school of Wykeham's founda-
tion ", a grammar school, with a master and usher paid on the
highest scale of the day, was included.

At Canterbury, Carlisle, Ely, Norwich, Rochester, and
Worcester, the new cathedral grammar schools were but the
old cathedral schools, which had been under the patronage
and government of the archbishop or bishop, in concert or not
with his archdeacon, re-established in a glorified form, far more
amply endowed, and placed under the patronage and endow-
ment of the new and more continuously resident deans and
chapters. Norwich, however, soon ceased in consequence of
the school placed in the re-created Great Hospital. At Bristol,
Chester, Gloucester, Peterborough, Westminster, the new
cathedral grammar schools also replaced old grammar schools,
of various origin and government, also in a much glorified
form, and as part of the endowment of the churches under the
government of the secular deans and chapters instead of that
of the abbots or others. But at Bristol and Gloucester these
cathedral schools competed with old grammar schools which
had passed under the control of the city councils and were
eventually eclipsed by them. At Westminster, though the
church soon ceased to be a cathedral, and bishop and chapter
alike disappeared to be replaced by a restored abbot and
monks, the school remained endowed, and when the monks
were again expelled and the church was restored as a colle-
giate but not as a cathedral church by Queen Elizabeth, the
school was made an integral part of it and placed under its
dean and chapter ; but Henry must still be regarded as its
real founder in the more glorified form which replaced the
old Almonry School. All the statutes were in the same
form, beginning with the recital :

" Whereas it seemed good to us and the great men of our
realm and to all the senate whom we call Parliament, God
thereunto as we believe moving us, to suppress and abolish
and to convert to far better uses for the true worship of
Almighty God and the far greater benefit of the Commonwealth
the monasteries which existed everywhere in our realm, both



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 313

because the sincere and most ancient religion, the most admired
uprightness of life and the most profound knowledge of
languages and learning, the praise of which virtues it appears
flourished in the earliest monasteries, now in the progress of
time have become corrupt and deficient, and changed to the
foulest superstition and the most disgraceful idleness and lust
and the grossest ignorance of Holy Scripture, and because of
their 'grave and manifold enormities, as for other just and
reasonable causes ; Wherefore we, thinking it more in con-
formity with the divine will and a more Christian thing that
where ignorance and superstition reigned there the true worship
of God should flourish and the holy gospel of Christ be as-
siduously and in purity preached ; and further that for the in-
crease of Christian faith and piety the youth of my realm may
be instructed in good literature and the poor for ever main-
tained, we have in place of the same monasteries erected and
established churches, some of which we will shall be called
cathedral and others collegiate churches ; For the rule and
governance of which churches we have caused to be drawn up
the laws and statutes which follow."

Chapter 27 of the Canterbury Statutes deals with the
grammar boys and their teachers :

" That piety and good letters may in our church aforesaid for
ever blossom, grow and flower and in their time bear fruit for
the glory of God and the advantage and adornment of the
commonwealth, we decree and > ordain that there shall always
be in our church of Canterbury, elected and nominated by the
Dean or in his absence the Sub-dean and Chapter, fifty boys,
poor and destitute of the help of their friends, to be maintained
out of the possessions of the church, of native genius as far
as may be and apt to learn : whom however we will shall not
be admitted as poor boys of our church before they have learnt
to read and write and are moderately learned in the first rudi-
ments of grammar, in the judgment of the Dean or in his
absence the Sub-dean and Head Master."

The boys were to be maintained until they had obtained a
moderate knowledge of, and had learnt to speak and write
Latin, for which four years, extendible to five at the discretion
of the head master, was considered enough. No boy was to be
elected under nine or over fourteen years of age, unless he had



314 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

been a chorister of the cathedral or of the chapel royal, if he was
fit and proved proficient in music, and having well served the
choir was to be preferred to others. If any boy turned out re-
markably slow and stupid or naturally unfit for learning, he,
after long trial, was to be expelled " that he may not like a
drone consume the bees' honey ", and the conscience of the
masters was solemnly charged to use their best diligence to
get all the boys on, and not to suffer any of the drones to
linger uselessly among the rest, but straightway report him to
the dean so that another might be admitted in his place.

The head master was to be learned in Latin and Greek, of
good character and pious life, endowed with the faculty of teach-
ing, to instruct in piety and adorn with good learning those fifty
boys of our church and all others whatsoever who come to our
school to learn. He shall hold the primacy in our school
(J>ri mas obtineat) and be called the head master or chief teacher
(Archididascalus sive pracipuus Informator).

The usher need only be learned in Latin to teach the boys,
under the head master, the first rudiments of grammar and there-
fore to be called the lower master or second teacher (Hipodi-
dascalus sive secundarius Informator).

If found "idle, negligent or unfit to teach ", they might be
deprived after three warnings.

The grammar school, it will be observed, was entirely free
and open to all. The masters were to instruct any who came to
learn grammar. There is not a vestige of foundation for the
notion, sedulously inculcated by some writers and carelessly
accepted by the public, that the school was solely or primarily
or in any substantial degree intended for the choristers. The
choristers were separately provided for by chapter 24 :

" Of the choristers and their master. We decree that
there be ... by the election of the dean eight choristers,
youths who have good voices and are inclined to singing, who
may serve, minister and sing in our choir. For the instruction
of these youths and training them up as well in modest be-
haviour as in skilfulness of singing we will that . . . there
shall be chosen one who is of a good life and reputation, skilful
both in singing and in playing upon the organ, who shall
diligently spend his time in instructing the boys in playing
upon the organs and at proper times in singing divine service."



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 315

That there might be no mistake as to what was meant by
" maintaining " the scholars on the foundation, another statute
provided for a college hall. In his rhetorical way the statute-
framer made preamble: "That those who come together and
praise God together in choir, may also sit together and praise
God together at table ", and he then proceeded to order that
" as well the Minor Canons and all ministers of the church in
the choir, as the teachers of the grammar boys and all other
ministers of the church, the boys too learning music and gram-
mar, if it conveniently may be, shall eat together and dine in a
common hall ". In hall the precentor or senior minor canon
was to preside at the upper table, next came the head master,
then the minor canons. At the second table were the deacon
and sub-deacon, otherwise called epistoller and gospeller, eight
clerks and the under master. At the third were the grammar
boys and the choristers. The servants dined afterwards (secundo
prandid). The precentor as censor morum looked after the be-
haviour of the men ; but only the masters were to correct
the boys. One of the canons or minor canons was to be
steward for the year, and provide " all necessary store, as they
call it ", while a minor canon was to act as steward of hall for a
month and order dinner. The amount allowed for commons
of the head master, minor canons, and choristers' master was
6s. a month or is. 6d. a week ; for the clerks and under-
master, 45. or is. 2d. a week ; and for the grammar boys and
choristers, 33. 4d. a month or lod. a week. The masters and
scholars, like the minor canons and others, were to have their
livery, i.e. cloth for their gowns.

In cathedral the head master and second master had stalls
assigned them, and it was provided that the former should
rank next above and the latter next below the minor canons, just
as the head master at Winchester and Eton ranked next above
the fellows but below the warden or provost, and the second
master next below the fellows and chaplains.

In pay their position was the same. Thus, at Peterborough,
while the dean got 100, a canon 20, minor canon 10,
the head master got 16 135. 4d., the usher 8, and each
grammar scholar 2 133. 4d.

Provision was also made for exhibitions at the University
from the schools, but this provision was taken away in 1545,



316 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

part of the endowment being surrendered in consideration of
the relief, to the grievous damage of the schools.

A Method of Teaching formed the last chapter of the
Statutes. It provided for six classes, three under the usher
and three under the head master. The lower books were Cato,
yEsop and Familiar Colloquies In Form III, Terence and
Mantuanus' Eclogues ; in the Fourth Form, they began to
practise writing Latin letters ; not until the Fifth Form did
they begin to write Latin verses, and polished themes and
translated poets and historians. In the Sixth Form, they read
Erasmus's Copia Verborum and made " varyings ", that is, turned
sentences of Latin from the oratio obliqua to the oratio directa>
and from one tense and mood to another, " so as to acquire the
faculty of speaking Latin as well as is possible for boys ". They
were to read Horace, Cicero and other authors of that class. It
is strange that no Greek author is mentioned, nor any Greek
composition, but it is provided that whatever they are doing
in earnest or in play they shall never use any language but
Latin or Greek. Declamations are insisted on " so that they
may leave school well learned in the practice of argument ".

The schools thus refounded did the greater part of the
education of England till the eighteenth century, and one of
them, Westminster, developed into what was throughout the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, admittedly the greatest
of the public schools, taking the lead even of Winchester and
Eton, alike in its numbers, its aristocratic connexion and its
intellectual achievements.

At Coventry and Bath alone were the cathedral priories
destroyed and not converted into colleges, because, in both
cases, the dioceses had already secular cathedrals at Lichfield
and Wells, while new sees and cathedrals were carved out of
them at Chester and Bristol. The episcopal or city grammar
school at Coventry, for which a new house had been provided
by a private benefactor in 1303, was now endowed by planting
it on St. John's Hospital, worth 95 135. a year, sold to John
Hales, a chancery official, clerk to the Hanaper, for 400,
subject to the condition of finding a free school. A patent
for the foundation of the school was issued on 23 July, 1545.
" The basis and safety of every state are the teaching (infor-
matid) of boys from their very cradle in piety and the humani-



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 317

ties (humanitatem), and, if this is neglected, it is impossible
that the crowd of idolaters, manslayers, thieves, and idle
mendicants" a hit at the friars "which stalks everywhere
should disappear. In order that the army of the wicked
should be quickly removed we have already established colleges
of theologians and schools of faith." Coventry, however, had
hitherto been left unprovided. Now John Hales, in the name
of the whole city, having asked for a faculty, licence was
given him " to found in honour of Jesus Christ who wished
little children to come to him, a perpetual arid free school
which shall be called Our (i.e. King's) school", and licence in
mortmain was given for the grant of lands to the value of
200 marks (166 133. 4d.) to the corporation "for the sup-
port of the schoolmaster, teachers, pupils, and servants of the
same ". At first Hales maintained the school, not in St. John's
Hospital but in the White Friars' Church, allowing the chief
master 30 a year, the usher 10, and the music master 20
nobles (5 133. 4d.) and their board a very generous provi-
sion. Owing, however, to some difficulty about the title to the
White Friars, the school was removed to the chapel of St.
John's Hospital, a fourteenth-century building 80 feet long,
where it remained till 1885. The endowment not being
legally completed, the school was in abeyance under Mary, as
Hales had to fly abroad for his life, but was finally effected by
deed of 5 March, 1573, the Hospital and lands in the city and
other property bringing in 43 us. 2d., being conveyed to
the city council. The salaries of the masters were, however,
reduced to 20, 10, and 2 I2s. a year. The income from
the Hospital lands has now risen to ^"noo a year; so that
the school is much better off than the cathedral schools, the
incomes of which were not augmented by the deans and
chapters when they augmented their own incomes.

Bath School was refounded by a grant to the Corporation
of all the lands of the dissolved Priory in Bath, including some
which by their name of " school land " sufficiently testify to the
existence of the school before the dissolution ; but this was not
till 12 July, 1 552, and the school was therefore dubbed the Free
Grammar School of King Edward the Sixth.

The cathedral statutes spoke of collegiate churches and
collegiate churches were actually established in place of mon-



3i8 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

asteries at Burton-on-Trent, Brecon, and Thornton in Lincoln-
shire, where the schoolmasters and scholars were given the same
important position as at Rochester or Worcester. At Thornton
what the father planted the son pulled up by the roots, and
this church fell under the Chantries Act of Edward VI.

At Burton-on-Trent the late monastery of St. Mary and
St. Modwenna was replaced on 14 August, 1541, by the col-
legiate church of Christ and St. Mary with a dean and four
canons, and a grammar school master, at the high pay of 20
a year. But the founder of the noble house of Beaudesert and
of the Marquises of Anglesey, built on the spoils of the monas-
teries, hankered after Burton, and after four and a half years of
existence the King was persuaded to suppress the college, and
grant it to Sir William Paget by patent of 31 January, 1546.
On 3 March, 1546, Richard Harman, late schoolmaster, was
paid 10 for his half year's pension to Lady Day following,
" but no further as the king has provided for him otherwise ".
Christ's College, Brecon, is still one of the chief schools of Wales.

Some collegiate churches were dissolved by Henry under
the Acts of 1540 and the Chantries Act of 1545 among them
Warwick, Ottery St. Mary's and Crediton. The policy here
pursued was different. The endowments, or a portion of the
endowments, of these churches were by letters patent granted to
incorporations of the inhabitants, to provide for the vicar
and one or two assistant clergy, and the grammar school on
the same enlarged scale as in the cathedrals. Thus Warwick
was surrendered in 1544 and the bulk of its endowments
granted, 1 5 May, 1 545 , to the inhabitants " for the good of them



Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 31 of 39)