Medieval Studies Medieval English Universities
by
Hannah Skoda
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0238

Introduction

Medieval English universities include, of course, only Oxford and Cambridge. These universities emerged in a wider context of the growth of higher learning across Europe, and their origins lie concomitant with those of the universities of Paris, Bologna, and Salamanca for example. These early institutions represent the growth of learning out of the context of monastic and cathedral settings, and provided dedicated environments for the pursuit of studies in the arts, theology, law, and medicine. The stimulus to higher learning came from a variety of sources, particularly the rediscovery of Arabic learning and a growing interest in classical authors: in many ways, the early days of universities should be seen within the context of the “twelfth-century Renaissance.” The term “university” is drawn from Roman law, to refer to the institutional corporation that, in the case of Oxford, arose out of preexisting schools of higher learning: a university was a self-regulating community of scholars, recognized by civil or ecclesiastical authority. Records of teaching in Oxford stretch back to 1096, and over the course of the 12th century, the town became, through a process of cumulative reputation, a center of learning. The head of the university was named as a chancellor in 1201, and the masters were recognized as a universitas in 1231 by the pope; a royal charter was granted in 1248. The origins of the University of Cambridge lie, famously, in an exodus on students from Oxford in 1209 following a dispute between town and gown. Initially these universities looked very different from the collegiate institutions into which they evolved: colleges, with the exception of a few early outliers (Merton, Balliol, and University College in Oxford; Peterhouse in Cambridge), were founded rather later in the 14th and 15th centuries as endowed fellowships of scholars with a remit to work as a community dedicated to the service of God through higher learning. While Oxford and Cambridge stood alone throughout the Middle Ages, this was not inevitable: in 1338, a group of Oxford scholars seceded to Stamford, but failed to found a university there; Owain-Glyn Dwr attempted to found a university in Wales; Scotland saw the foundation of the universities of Aberdeen, St Andrew’s and Glasgow in the 15th century. Students at Oxford and Cambridge could be as young as fourteen. Historians have debated their prosopographical make up, and while it is clear that the lowest social strata would never have been in a position to meet the entrance requirements, higher education did indeed provide some opportunities for social mobility, and increasingly so as scholarship provisions increased. Students studied a course in the arts and could then progress to a higher degree in theology, law, or medicine. The universities of medieval England are well documented and provide a rich source for historians of ideas, those interested in changing institutional structures, the social history of youthful (mis)behavior, relations between town and gown, prosopography, and the shifting political and religious role of universities in the wider polity.

Introductory Works

Historians of universities must begin by considering their origins and developing functions over time. This has been done most effectively in comparative European perspective, and it is widely acknowledged by historians that, despite Henry III’s 1167 prohibition on English students’ study abroad, international networks of scholars rapidly developed (Courtenay and Miethke 2000). Traditionally the focus has been on institutional origins, with the papacy given a prominent role in Rashdall 1987. The institutional approach was followed by Cobban 1975, which argues that two basic models of universities emerged in Bologna and Paris, and explores the distinctiveness of the English case in its early days: in this model, focus is upon administrative structures and the development of student privileges. An alternative approach lies in the intellectual impetuses that drove the schools, seminally explored in Haskins 1972. The intellectual and the institutional were most effectively shown to intersect and to drive development in Leff 1968. Southern 1987 explores a shift under John XXII from the independent authority and jurisdiction of the masters of theology to that of the papacy at Avignon: the implications of this are far reaching since Southern demonstrates the way in which this created an international need for university-trained men; this view was challenged in Courtenay 1989 (see Censorship). Fifteenth-century universities once again appear vulnerable to the complaint that intellectual freedoms were undermined by pragmatic political needs: de Ridder-Symoens 2003 includes articles that address this question of decline from a variety of perspectives (prosopographical, social, intellectual) to argue for the continued vitality of these institutions and to explain the raft of new foundations in this period. Indeed, the period is treated as one of explicit transition in the edited collection Kittelson and Transue 1984, and the argument of political expediency is turned on its head with the argument that it was precisely this ready adaptation of universities that ensured their survival.

  • Cobban, Alan. Medieval Universities: Their Development and Organisation. London: Methuen, 1975.

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    A synthesis of 20th-century historiography of the universities. A useful introduction to the European context, which allows the reader to see what was distinctive about English universities. The book is particularly strong on the early stages of the universities, on colleges, and on relations with wider society.

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    • Courtenay, William, and Jürgen Miethke, eds. Universities and Schooling in Medieval Society. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

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      A useful collection of essays on higher education in European context. The book is particularly helpful in exploring who students were, their socioeconomic and geographical backgrounds, and the establishment of networks of scholars (the article by Courtenay is particularly helpful for students of English universities in this respect).

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      • de Ridder-Symoens, Hilde, ed. A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1, Universities in the Middle Ages. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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        First published in 1992. Presents a series of articles by historians such as Walter Rüegg, Jacques Verger, Rainer Christoph Schwinges, Peter Moraw, Hilde de Ridder-Symoens, and John North, which explore the historiographical debates that frame the study of medieval universities. All the essays discuss European universities (including English ones) in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on shift over time. There is an emphasis on the later Middle Ages.

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        • Haskins, Charles Homer. The Rise of the Universities. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1972.

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          First published in 1923, this remains a seminal introduction to the social and intellectual history of universities. It is particularly useful for students wishing to get a colorful introduction, and to researchers keen to explore the kinds of source material available.

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          • Kittelson, James, and Pamela Transue, eds. Rebirth, Reform and Resilience: Universities in Transition 1300–1700. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1984.

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            A collection of essays in comparative European perspective, exploring the historiographical problem of so-called decline of later medieval universities. Argues that universities were resilient because they were so closely connected to the needs of society.

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            • Leff, Gordon. Paris and Oxford Universities in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: An Institutional and Intellectual History. New York: John Wiley, 1968.

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              Provides a detailed analysis of the curriculum and scholarship in both universities. Argues cogently that institutional and intellectual developments went hand in hand in the early history of the universities, while demonstrating what was distinctive about Oxford.

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              • Rashdall, Hastings. The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987.

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                Revised by F. Maurice Powicke and Alfred B. Emden. First published in 1895, this book remains one of the most comprehensive introductions to the history of medieval universities, with dedicated sections on the English universities. It is particularly strong as an introductory guide to the institutional history of these institutions, and was first revised and updated in the 1930s.

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                • Southern, Richard. “The Changing Role of the Universities in Medieval Europe.” Historical Research 60 (1987): 133–146.

                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2281.1987.tb02288.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  A seminal piece with wide ramifications for the understanding of the function of learning that opens up a wider discussion of the shift from the independent authority and jurisdiction of masters of theology to that of the papacy. Southern argues that, while the authority of universities therefore declined, the career prospects of their masters in the service of pope or state were renewed. An alternative interpretation of the evidence is provided in Courtenay 1989 (cited under Censorship).

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                  General Overviews

                  In this section, I include texts that provide a straightforward overview, particularly suitable for students, into the history of medieval English universities. With the exception of works such as Cobban 1988, Brooke and Highfield 1988, and Courtenay 1987, it is relatively unusual to find Oxford and Cambridge treated together: Cobban as well as Brooke and Highfield provide useful introductions to key themes such as origins, governance, town-gown relations, and student life. Overviews of the curricula taught at Oxford and Cambridge provided in Catto 1984, Catto and Evans 1992, and Cobban 1988 suggest that there were shifts over the course of the Middle Ages: learning became increasingly engaged with the wider needs of the polity, although as the Catto and Evans 1992 collection emphasizes, this could become intensely problematic as in the case of Wycliffism. The ecclesiastical role of the University of Oxford, serving the needs of the western Church, is stressed in Brockliss 2016. Catto 1984 and Catto and Evans 1992 are essential collections of essays regarding the early history of the English universities: not all the articles contained therein can be cited here, but these volumes should be a starting point for anyone working on these institutions. These broad overviews tend to focus on the institutional nature of Oxford and Cambridge, with a focus on processes of internal governance in Cobban 1988, Courtenay 1987 argues that the institutional structures of 14th-century education provided fertile ground for intellectual innovation. The rise of colleges in the later part of the period is given particular prominence in Brooke and Highfield 1988. The effects of rapid demographic decline following outbreaks of epidemic disease in the 14th century play into this debate about the shifting nature of universities both compositionally and in terms of the kinds of learning fostered: this approach is explored in detail in Riehl Leader 1988. If the later Middle Ages seem lacking in intellectual vigor in the majority of these accounts, the question then arises over the point at which the advent of humanism began to redress this issue: this is addressed in Riehl Leader 1988. Cultural history of universities does not always need to engage only with the curriculum itself, and Garrett 2004 points its readers to a wealth of literary and fictional sources on the University of Cambridge that can offer revealing insights into the social life of universities, something that Cobban 1988 also explores. It is, of course, striking that there is more work available on Oxford than on Cambridge: reasons for this are commented on in Zutschi 1993.

                  • Brockliss, Laurence. The University of Oxford. A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

                    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243563.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    A history of the University from its origins to the present day. The medieval period is characterized as one in which the institution served the needs of the institutional Church.

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                    • Brooke, Christopher, and Roger Highfield. Oxford and Cambridge. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                      An overview of the entire history of these universities. The medieval sections provide a straightforward introduction to origins, and the later Middle Ages are characterized as a period of the ascendancy of colleges.

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                      • Catto, Jeremy, ed. The History of the University of Oxford. Vol. 1, The Early Oxford Schools. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                        The first of the eight-volume The History of the University of Oxford. An essential reference work, with detailed articles on subjects ranging from the origins of the University, to its teaching, institutional setting, and social composition of scholars and masters.

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                        • Catto, Jeremy, and Ralph Evans. The History of the University of Oxford. Vol. 2, Late Medieval Oxford. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

                          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199510122.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          The second of the eight-volume The History of the University of Oxford. An essential reference work with specialist articles ranging across the range of disciplines studied at Oxford, the buildings and institutional setting, and role of the university in a wider political context.

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                          • Cobban, Alan. The Medieval English Universities: Oxford and Cambridge to c. 1500. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988.

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                            A useful and comprehensive synthesis of 20th-century research on English universities, useful for students and researchers alike in the wealth of references. Sections on origins, internal university governance, colleges, curricula, relations with municipal and ecclesiastical authorities, and student life.

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                            • Courtenay, William. Schools and Scholars in Fourteenth-Century England. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

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                              Sets the universities in the wider context of other kinds of learning and political and social change. Shows how the institutional setting of the universities fostered intellectual innovation. Extensive bibliography.

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                              • Garrett, Martin. Cambridge: A Cultural and Literary History. Oxford: Signal, 2004.

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                                Intended for a wider audience, this nonetheless provides students and researchers with an insight into the cultural life of medieval Cambridge and suggests the kinds of literary sources to which one might turn.

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                                • Riehl Leader, Damian. A History of the University of Cambridge. Vol. 1: The University to 1546. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                                  Useful introduction to the history of the university, with particular focus on shifts following the Black Death. Relations between town and gown are discussed, as well as the fading intellectual vitality of the institution in the 15th century. This is the first of a four-volume History of the University of Cambridge under the general editorship of Christopher Brooke.

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                                  • Zutschi, Patrick, ed. Medieval Cambridge: Essays on the Pre-Reformation University. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1993.

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                                    A collection of essays on medieval Cambridge, with a useful introduction by Zutschi (pp. 1–6) that summarizes the historiography of the university and offers an overview of the archival material.

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                                    Bibliographies

                                    There are no entirely up-to-date bibliographies already extant, but several extremely useful resources cover much of the scholarship of the 20th century. Gabriel 1974 and the regular updates in History of Universities provide the most useful guides for secondary literature. On primary printed material for the University of Oxford, of which there is a great quantity, Cordeaux and Merry 1958 is a useful resource. Anthologies are the best place to turn for an introduction to the Oxford archives, but for Cambridge, a useful history of the archives and accompanying bibliography are provided in Peek and Hall 1962.

                                    • Cordeaux, Edward, and Dennis Merry. A Bibliography of Printed Works Relating to the University of Oxford. Oxford: Clarendon, 1958.

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                                      A useful bibliography, including many primary printed sources.

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                                      • Gabriel, Astrik. Summary Bibliography of the History of the Universities of Great Britain and Ireland up to 1800, Covering Publications between 1900 and 1968. Notre Dame, Indiana: International Commission for the History of Universities, 1974.

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                                        An extremely useful and wide-ranging bibliography.

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                                        • History of Universities. 1981–.

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                                          An annual journal that, as well as providing articles with the latest scholarship and research on the history of higher education throughout history, includes up-to-date bibliographies at the end of most volumes.

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                                          • Peek, Heather, and Catherine Hall. The Archives of the University of Cambridge: An Historical Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1962.

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                                            For students of the governance of the university and those interested in the history of archives, the overview of how matters were recorded and archived since the origins of the university is invaluable. The book also contains a useful bibliography and is an indispensable tool.

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                                            Anthologies

                                            There are a few anthologies that provide useful starting points for students wishing to explore the range of primary material available, or for teachers keen to teach using primary sources. In many ways, the process of anthologizing these sources began with Anthony Wood’s process of collecting institutional documentation about the university, itself an important testament to early antiquarianism (see Wood 1786). More recent, and really essential to any scholarly work on the University of Oxford, are the volumes produced by the Oxford Historical Society, not all of which can be listed here, but can be easily viewed online. There is not room in this article to cite everything of interest, but there are volumes available via Oxford Historical Society that provide indispensable editions of archival material and discussions of university history: several are cited in subsections Student Behavior and Misbehavior, Colleges, and Universities in Sociopolitical Context. Of this collection, the anthologies of documents collected in Salter 1920–1921 are essential for understanding the range of material available and for consulting editions of these texts, notably proctorial accounts. Salter’s edition of the Chancellor’s Register from 1434 to 1469 (see Salter 1932, with the continuation Mitchell 1981) provides a range of insights into the structures of the university as well as its social history. His anthology, Salter 1924, provides a set of interesting insights into the later 15th-century history of the university, and is particularly useful for exploring episcopal constraints, visitations, and the effects of Wycliffism. A useful text for students is Thorndike 1944, which includes sources from a variety of European institutions and ranges from legal to literary to religious texts. For Cambridge, the critical volume is a collection of edited documents produced in 1852.

                                            • Mitchell, Walter, ed. Registrum Cancellarii, 1498–1506. Oxford Historical Society, New Series 27. Oxford: Clarendon, 1981.

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                                              The continuation of the register of congregation of Oxford. See Salter 1932.

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                                              • Queen’s Commissioners, ed. Documents Relating to the University and Colleges of Cambridge. 3 vols. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1852.

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                                                Volume 1 details references to the university and colleges in the patent and close rolls and other governmental documents; it also contains statutes relating to the university. Volumes 2 and 3 contain editions of statutes and charters relating primarily to the colleges.

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                                                • Salter, Herbert, ed. Medieval Archives of the University of Oxford. 2 vols. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 74–75. Oxford: Clarendon, 1920–1921.

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                                                  Contains a useful introduction to the institutional history of the university and a collection of documents relating largely to the status of the university as an institution, notably texts about weights and measures, the assize, and proctorial accounts.

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                                                  • Salter, Herbert, ed. Snappe’s Formulary and Other Documents. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 80. Oxford: Clarendon, 1924.

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                                                    An anthology containing not only the eponymous formulary, but confirmations of chancellors by the bishops of Lincoln, accounts of the visitation of Archbishop Arundel in the 15th century, excommunications by the university chancellor, a calendar of deeds from late medieval Oxford, and other miscellaneous documents.

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                                                    • Salter, Herbert, ed. Registrum Cancellarii Oxon. 2 vols. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 93–94. Oxford: Clarendon, 1932.

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                                                      Contains an edition of the Chancellor’s Register from 1434 to 1469. As the main court of the city, this offers perhaps the most important collection of insights into student life, misdemeanors, expectations, and town-gown relations.

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                                                      • Thorndike, Lynn. University Records and Life in the Middle Ages. New York: Columbia University Press, 1944.

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                                                        Also available electronically, this is a useful source for introducing students to the wealth of kinds of sources available. The compilation provides insights into universities across Europe, including Oxford and Cambridge, and includes sources on their intellectual history, institutional and legal structures, and social and religious life.

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                                                        • Wood, Anthony. The History and Antiquities of the Colleges and Halls in the University of Oxford. 3 vols. Edited by John Gutch. Oxford: Clarendon, 1786.

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                                                          Heavily indebted to the collections of Brian Twyne, Anthony Wood was a 17th-century antiquary, who fairly systematically explored and compiled from the muniments of the Oxford colleges and the university registers.

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                                                          Structures of Learning and Teaching

                                                          The intellectual work of universities took forms particular to the Middle Ages. Although it is tempting to examine ideas emerging from a university context in isolation, in fact these substantive ideas, which are addressed in Subjects of Study, cannot really be studied unless the forms that structured their production are properly understood.

                                                          Teaching and Syllabi

                                                          This section refers to material exploring the ways in which teaching was conducted, its subject matter, and changes from the 13th to the 15th centuries; of relevance also is the material in the subsection Faculties. Some historians have argued that syllabi were subject to strong institutional constraints and developed in accordance with institutional prerogatives (Maierù 1994). The extent to which these constraints may have shifted, and have themselves been subject to the changing needs of polities, is explored in van Engen 2000. The implication of this can be that teaching lacked intellectual vitality, a view that is refuted by Thomson’s argument for the academic vigor of the Oxford grammar masters (see Thomson 1983). It is also important to examine the ways in which syllabi were shaped by the European context, and Weisheipl 1964 provides an examination of nominalist and realist impulses in European perspective. Teaching and learning are obviously conditioned by the ways in which they can be expressed, and Murphy 2001, a work on medieval rhetoric both as a subject and as a way of teaching, provides useful insights.

                                                          • Maierù, Alfonso. University Training in Medieval Europe. Translated and edited by Darleen N. Pryds. New York: Brill, 1994.

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                                                            A collection of essays that, despite the strong Italian focus, provides a seminal set of insights into the structuring of medieval teaching and syllabi, and the ways in which institutional frameworks shaped intellectual outputs.

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                                                            • Murphy, James. Rhetoric in the Middle Ages: A History of Rhetorical Theory from Augustine to the Renaissance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

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                                                              A useful companion to medieval rhetoric, and the ways in which this shaped both the acquisition and communication of learning. First published in 1974, the 2001 reprint contains valuable bibliographical material for those wishing to explore this further.

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                                                              • Thomson, David. “The Oxford Grammar Masters Revisited.” Mediaeval Studies 45 (1983): 298–310.

                                                                DOI: 10.1484/J.MS.2.306305Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Important article exploring the contribution of the grammar masters to the vigor of the curriculum, arguing that they represented a more intellectually vigorous approach than hitherto thought.

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                                                                • van Engen, John. Learning Institutionalised: Teaching in the Medieval University. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000.

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                                                                  A useful introduction to the ways in which intellectual thought was shaped by institutional frameworks in comparative European focus. The book is particularly useful for addressing the ways in which structures of teaching and syllabi changed in response to the shifting needs of polities over the course of the Middle Ages.

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                                                                  • Weisheipl, James. “Curriculum of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Oxford in the Early Fourteenth Century.” Mediaeval Studies 26 (1964): 143–185.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1484/J.MS.2.305981Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Examines precisely what was taught to students of the arts, and shows the place of arts teaching at Oxford within wider European debates about nominalism and realism. See also Faculties.

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                                                                    Books and Libraries

                                                                    Students obviously depended upon books, and while this area is of interest to historians of the book, it should also be of interest to anyone interested in the practical means by which teaching and learning could be pursued. An interest in the book history of Oxford and Cambridge Universities must begin with an understanding of the holdings and patterns of acquisition of their libraries, to be found in Thomson 2015 and Clarke 2003, respectively. In order to identify the survival and holdings of university manuscripts, scholars should consult Ker 1964 and Ker 1969–2002. Useful introductions in European perspective to the variety of textbooks available to students are to be found in Grubmüller 2000 and Hamesse 1994. Various perspectives are available on the ways in which these books were produced, from an emphasis on the ways in which student needs and annotations shaped their history, as in Campi, et al. 2008, to the practical implications of the pecia system in Pollard 1978 and the themes of production and transmission in Bataillon, et al. 1988; a useful starting point for those interested in the history of printing at Oxford is Madan 1895. Equally, it is important to consider how books shaped the production and classification of knowledge, an approach explored in Rouse and Rouse 1991. The use of books by students is effectively explored in Parkes 1993.

                                                                    • Bataillon, Louis, Bertrand Guyot, and Richard Rouse, eds. La production du livre universitaire au Moyen Age. Paris: CNRS, 1988.

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                                                                      Seminal work on book production at the universities. There is much technical detail here, of interest to a specialist audience.

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                                                                      • Campi, Emidio, Simone de Angelis, Anja-Silvia Goeing, and Anthony Grafton, eds. Scholarly Knowledge: Textbooks in Early Modern Europe. Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance 447. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 2008.

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                                                                        Although set in comparative European perspective, and spanning the late medieval into the early modern period, there are very important insights here into the use of textbooks across a wide range of subjects. Taken together, the articles importantly demonstrate that textbooks evolved in the hands of their users: students annotated, adapted, and added comments in the margins.

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                                                                        • Clarke, Peter D. University and College Libraries of Cambridge. Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues 10. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

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                                                                          Outlines processes by which the University and Colleges of Cambridge became centers for the acquisition and exchange of books. Includes medieval documents about library holdings and borrowing regulations, inventories and catalogues, and a biographical section on individuals who donated books.

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                                                                          • Grubmüller, Klaus. Schulliteratur im späten Mittelalter. Munich: Fink Signatur, 2000.

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                                                                            Encyclopedic guide to the texts emerging from and framing teaching and research in medieval higher education, in European perspective.

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                                                                            • Hamesse, Jacqueline, ed. Manuels, programmes de cours et techniques d’enseignement dans les universités médiévales; Actes du colloque international de Louvain-la-Neuve, 9–11 septembre 1993. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Institut d’Etudes Médiévales, 1994.

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                                                                              An extremely important collection relating specifically to teaching and research resources used in medieval universities. The collection covers Europe more generally, but there is plenty of material here on English universities, as well as much of importance comparatively. Of particular interest will be articles covering more unusual subjects such as the teaching of arithmetic (Allard), and articles regarding the distinctiveness of the English case (Fletcher) and logic at Oxford (Ashworth).

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                                                                              • Ker, Neil R. Medieval Libraries of Great Britain. London: Royal Historical Society, 1964.

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                                                                                A useful handbook of details regarding the development of libraries, including those of Oxford and Cambridge. First published in 1941.

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                                                                                • Ker, Neil R. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries. 5 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969–2002.

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                                                                                  A useful handbook to identify the survival and holdings of manuscripts from Oxford and Cambridge.

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                                                                                  • Madan, Falconer. The Early Oxford Press: A Bibliography of Printing and Publishing at Oxford, “1468” to 1640. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 19. Oxford: Clarendon, 1895.

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                                                                                    Includes a useful appendix, giving details of books that are known to have been printed at Oxford.

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                                                                                    • Parkes, Malcolm. “The Provision of Books.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 145–161. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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                                                                                      Important article on the ways in which books were made available to students, and the impact of this provision on learning.

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                                                                                      • Pollard, Graham. “The Pecia System in the Medieval Universities.” In Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries: Essays Presented to N. R. Ker. Edited by Malcolm Parkes and Alan Watson, 145–161. London: Scolar Press, 1978.

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                                                                                        Explores the importance and mechanism of the pecia system of copying textbooks for students. Provides important insights into the services provided by the city for students, and equally into the production, cost, and types of textbooks available.

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                                                                                        • Rouse, Richard, and Mary Rouse. Authentic Witnesses: Approaches to Medieval Texts and Manuscripts. Publications in Mediaeval Studies 27. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991.

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                                                                                          A collection of essays spanning twenty-five years’ work, pioneering an “archaeology” of manuscripts and demonstrating the importance of the relationship between physical object and function. Of particular interest to historians of the book, but with important ramifications for research into the ways in which learning could be articulated. Articles explore, among other themes, the classification of knowledge, libraries, and dissemination of learning.

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                                                                                          • Thomson, Rodney. The University and College Libraries of Oxford. 2 vols. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                            Explores the importance of borrowing, copying, and purchasing books in medieval Oxford and collates all the extant medieval documents regarding library holdings in Oxford.

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                                                                                            Disputations

                                                                                            As an intellectual method, disputations were central to university life in the Middle Ages. A useful typological overview is to be found in Bazàn, et al. 1985. While this latter volume provides essential specialist detail and arose out of conference proceedings, Glorieux 1925 remains seminal as both an overview of the nature of disputations and a reference work to identify a large number of surviving records of the practice. Novikoff 2013 provides a more recent overview of the nature of the disputational form and the ways in which it shaped intellectual activity and pedagogy in particular, and this European perspective is reinforced in Weijers 2002. Lawn 1993 reminds us that disputations were used in scientific and medical spheres also. While the intellectual work of universities is characterized largely by disputational forms, this did not mean that all disputations were rooted in the university, and the collection Donavin, et al. 2002 provides a useful sense that disputations had a wider context, while giving detailed analysis of their importance at the University of Oxford in particular. Much of this historiography is overtly concerned with institutional and intellectual history, but disputations have also attracted the attention of literary scholars concerned with the nature of performance and theatricality: Enders 1993 on disputational forms is notable in this respect.

                                                                                            • Bazàn, Bernardo, John Wippel, Gérard Fransen, and Danielle Jacquart, eds. Les questions disputés et les questions quodlibétiques dans les facultés de théologie, de droit, et de médecine. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1985.

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                                                                                              Specialist and erudite volume providing detailed analysis of the types of disputation and quodlibet material encountered in different faculties. The introduction provides a very helpful typological overview that helps to classify and distinguish among this wide-ranging material.

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                                                                                              • Donavin, Georgiana, Carol Poster, and Richard Utz, eds. Medieval Forms of Argument: Disputation and Debate. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2002.

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                                                                                                Provides a series of case studies of individual scholars and intellectuals involved in disputations or debate. Notable for scholars of English universities is chapter 1 by Mishtooni Bose. Gives a sense of the discursive variety of disputations and, despite their focus in a university context, their wider appeal.

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                                                                                                • Enders, Jody. “The Theater of Scholastic Erudition.” Comparative Drama 27.3 (1993): 341–363.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/cdr.1993.0039Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  In European context, explores the theatrical and dramatic elements of disputational culture. Of particular interest to literary scholars and those exploring the spectacular nature of late medieval intellectual culture.

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                                                                                                  • Glorieux, Palémon. La littérature quodlibétique de 1260 à 1320. Vol. 1. Kain, Belgium: Bibliothèque Thomiste, 1925.

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                                                                                                    Vol. 2, Paris: J. Vrin, 1935. Erudite and detailed reference work divided into two parts: Part 1 explores the structure and importance of the quodlibetical text, and Part 2 provides a list of quodlibetal disputations, with details of the masters who held them. A series of indexes make possible searches by incipits, subjects, and names. An essential reference work.

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                                                                                                    • Lawn, Brian. The Rise and Decline of the Scholastic “Quaestio Disputata.” Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1993.

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                                                                                                      Important contribution to the history of scholastic disputation. Both a useful summary and an erudite and detailed account of the primary material. With special focus on the use of disputations in the teaching of science and medicine from the medieval through to the early modern period in European perspective.

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                                                                                                      • Novikoff, Alex. The Medieval Culture of Disputation: Pedagogy, Practice, and Performance. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                        Offers a comprehensive introduction to the concept of disputation as an intellectual technique, exploring early medieval origins and development. Chapter 5 focuses specifically on a university context. While the focus of the book is European (and often French oriented), this is an important introduction to the concept of disputation as it shaped intellectual learning and inquiry also in an English context.

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                                                                                                        • Weijers, Olga. La “disputatio” dans les Facultés des arts au moyen âge. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2002.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1484/M.SA-EB.5.106207Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Uses both statutes and texts and explores changes in the later part of the period, as well as pedagogical uses of the disputatio. Points out the growing conservatism of education.

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                                                                                                          Censorship

                                                                                                          Much of the historiographical debate about the learning that emerged from medieval universities, including English ones, asks whether these institutions stimulated or stifled intellectual innovation. Boureau 2000 has argued passionately for the rich diversity of medieval scholastic learning and the opportunities provided by the schools in this respect, and has provided a much more nuanced way of thinking about the complex contextual setting of censorship. Boureau’s article provides an important, although polemical, summary of the historiography on this issue. These issues are crystallized with regard to the heretical movement of Lollards and its origins in Wycliffite ideas developed at Oxford (see also the section Heresy): in this sense, Courtenay 1989 explores the nature of academic condemnations, the types of people subject to such measures, and the nature of procedures against them, judicial or otherwise. Many of these debates operated within a wider European context of concern about forms of mysticism and anti-mendicant attitudes, explored in Kerby-Fulton 2011. A more detailed examination of the implications of anti-mendicant thought and action is to be found in Rayborn 2014.

                                                                                                          • Boureau, Alain. “La censure dans les universités médiévales.” Annales Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations 55.2 (2000): 313–323.

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                                                                                                            Short article focusing mainly on Parisian context, but extremely important in framing the historiographical debate. Lengthy critiques of the works of other historians. Provides ways of understanding notions of censorship and liberty in a scholastic context, and argues for the rich diversity of medieval scholastic thought.

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                                                                                                            • Courtenay, William. “Inquiry and Inquisition: Academic Freedom in Medieval Universities.” Church History 58 (1989): 168–181.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3168722Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Very useful summary with interesting comments in particular on responses to Wycliffism at the University of Oxford.

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                                                                                                              • Kerby-Fulton, Kathryn. Books under Suspicion: Censorship and Tolerance of Revelatory Writing in Late Medieval England. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                Major contribution to the study of late medieval manuscript culture. Examines the censorship largely of visionary material, which is shown theologically to intersect with movements from continental Europe. Demonstrates censorship in a university context to be operating in a wider context. Particularly useful for studying the role in English universities of the writings of William of Saint-Amour, William of Ockham, Uthred de Baldun, and the Lollards.

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                                                                                                                • Rayborn, Tim. Against the Friars: Antifraternalism in Medieval France and England. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014.

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                                                                                                                  Provides a useful introduction, particularly for students, to the nature of antifraternalism and its implications for the intellectual life of the university, as well as the wider social and discursive implications. Chapter 8 is particularly relevant to the context of the University of Oxford.

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                                                                                                                  Lectures and Commentaries

                                                                                                                  Lecturing within the commentary tradition was also a key element of medieval university teaching. Del Punto 1998 provides a useful introduction to the nature of commentary as a genre and addresses the question of its intellectual vitality. Indeed most historians are clear that commentary does not engender only derivative and sterile forms of thought: such a view is sustained in Weijers 1996, a work that highlights the central importance of this textual tradition. Luscombe 1997 provides a useful example in this respect of the rigor and sophistication of commentaries on Aristotle’s Politics.

                                                                                                                  • del Punto, Francesco. “The Genre of Commentaries in the Middle Ages and Its Relation to the Nature and Originality of Medieval Philosophical Thought.” In Was ist Philosophie im Mittelalter? Edited by Jan Aertsen and Andreas Speer, 139–151: Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 1998.

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                                                                                                                    Useful introduction for students to the basic sense of what commentaries were and the implications of this mode of learning for intellectual culture.

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                                                                                                                    • Luscombe, David. “Commentaries on the Politics: Paris and Oxford, XIII–XV Centuries.” In L’enseignement des disciplines à la faculté des arts. Edited by Olga Weijers, 313–327. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1997.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1484/M.SA-EB.4.00390Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Detailed analysis of the importance of commentaries on Aristotle in comparative context. Demonstrates the importance of the commentary tradition in the development of political theory.

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                                                                                                                      • Weijers, Olga. Le maniement du savoir: Pratiques intellectuelles à l’époque des premières universités (XIII–XVe siècles). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1996.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1484/M.SA-EB.5.106237Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        In comparative perspective, provides an overview of methods of teaching and intellectual inquiry in medieval universities, and highlights the importance of the commentary and lecture traditions, while explaining their mechanisms and the variety of texts that were treated in this way.

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                                                                                                                        Subjects of Study

                                                                                                                        If the section Structures of Learning and Teaching provided a set of citations regarding intellectual methods in universities, this section explores the substance of teaching and research. From the 13th century, students in the Faculty of Arts would have studied syllabi focused primarily on the works of Aristotle; this permitted them then to proceed to a higher degree in theology, medicine, or law. The universities were divided into faculties for this purpose.

                                                                                                                        Arts Course

                                                                                                                        The Faculty of Arts provided the teaching for the basic degree at Oxford and Cambridge, the Bachelor of Arts. Weisheipl 1964 provides the most basic introduction to what was taught there, and Weisheipl 1966 explores the extent to which this developed over the course of the 14th century. Fletcher 1984 and Fletcher 1992 likewise provide accounts of developments over the 13th to 15th centuries. The focus on rhetoric, logic, and grammar in the Faculty of Arts is explored in Lewry 1983 and Lewry 1984, wherein it is argued that these developments were dependent upon the transmission of ideas by travelling scholars. In time, grammar was to be superseded by humanist studies, although the timing of this shift is somewhat controversial, and discussed in Bartlett 1977.

                                                                                                                        • Bartlett, Kenneth. “The Decline and Abolition of the Master of Grammar: An Early Victory of Humanism at the University of Cambridge.” History of Education 6.1 (1977): 1–8.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/0046760770060101Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Discusses the gradual supersedence of grammar by the growing interest in “humane letters.”

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                                                                                                                          • Fletcher, John. “The Faculty of Arts.” In The Early Oxford Schools. Vol. 1 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto, 369–399. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                            Provides a very useful discussion of teaching in the Faculty of Arts, and identifies the texts studied.

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                                                                                                                            • Fletcher, John. “Developments in the Faculty of Arts.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 66–102. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                              Explores developments in the late Middle Ages, the effects of Wycliffism, and new continental trends in learning. Useful overview. Argues that Oxford delayed incorporating changes into the curriculum.

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                                                                                                                              • Lewry, P. Osmond. “Rhetoric at Paris and Oxford in the Mid-Thirteenth Century.” Rhetorica 1 (1983): 45–63.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1525/rh.1983.1.1.45Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Compares the beginnings of rhetoric at Oxford with those at Paris. Identifies the relevant manuscripts and sources attesting to an early interest in Oxford, and argues that studies at Paris influenced those at Oxford.

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                                                                                                                                • Lewry, P. Osmond. “Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric.” In The Early Oxford Schools. Vol. 1 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto, 401–433. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                  Critical introduction to the study of these subjects at Oxford: provides a useful overview to the end of the 13th century.

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                                                                                                                                  • Weisheipl, James. “Curriculum of the Faculty of Arts at Oxford in the Early Fourteenth Century.” Mediaeval Studies 26.1 (1964): 143–185.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1484/J.MS.2.305981Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Useful and methodical introduction to what was taught in the Arts course.

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                                                                                                                                    • Weisheipl, James. “Developments in the Arts Curriculum at Oxford in the Early Fourteenth Century.” Mediaeval Studies 28.1 (1966): 151–175.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1484/J.MS.2.306013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Detailed account of the shifts in the curriculum and what promoted those shifts.

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                                                                                                                                      Philosophy

                                                                                                                                      It is an artificial exercise to separate philosophy from the study of theology and the arts in medieval universities: philosophy did not have its own faculty. Nevertheless, it is hermeneutically useful: first because the philosophical content of much university reasoning was far reaching and often of political importance; and second because it does not neatly fit into another single faculty, but was studied largely as part of the curriculum of the Faculty of Arts, while much philosophical thinking emerged from the Faculty of Theology. Marenbon 2007 provides the most reliable and sophisticated overview of medieval philosophy, not just within a university context. Shifts over time can then be examined in general terms by using Schmitt, et al. 1988 on Renaissance philosophy. The contributions of humanist thinking more particularly are examined in Weiss 1967, North 1992, and Riehl Leader 1984. Particular focus on political philosophy within a university context can be found in Dunbabin’s article on Aristotelianism in the schools in Smalley 1965: the volume as a whole examines political theory in much wider context, but this is important in itself in showing the wider relevance and import of university learning.

                                                                                                                                      • Marenbon, John. Medieval Philosophy: An Historical and Philosophical Introduction. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                        An essential introduction to the nature of medieval philosophy. This is an excellent guide for students, but equally with enough conceptual and analytical detail to be a very useful research resource. Chapters 7 and 8 provide particular insights into the nature of philosophical enquiry in an English-university context.

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                                                                                                                                        • North, John D. “Natural Philosophy in Late Medieval Oxford.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 66–102. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                          Discusses developments in the methods used in natural philosophy and astronomy, and explores the range of attitudes to natural philosophy. In particular, the article provides useful insights into the impact of humanist thinking on the study of natural philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                          • Riehl Leader, Damian. “Philosophy and Oxford and Cambridge in the Fifteenth Century.” History of Universities 4 (1984): 25–46.

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                                                                                                                                            Discusses natural and moral philosophy and metaphysics. Uses university statutes and graces, and library catalogues associated with the collegiate university, as well as philosophical manuscripts used by Oxford masters and students. Discusses shifts brought about by humanist ideas at the end of the period.

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                                                                                                                                            • Schmitt, Charles, Quentin Skinner, Eckhard Kessler, and Jill Kraye, eds. The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                              An essential introduction to the shifting emphases in the study of philosophy in the Renaissance, although the strength of the volume is to point to important continuities. A useful guide for students, but equally an important reference work for researchers.

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                                                                                                                                              • Smalley, Beryl, ed. Trends in Medieval Political Thought. Papers presented at All Souls College, Oxford, 1963. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1965.

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                                                                                                                                                This book arose from a series of papers presented at All Souls in 1963. Taken as a whole, the edited collection provides a useful introduction to the rich variety of medieval political thought and allows the reader to situate the role of universities within this wider discursive framework. Of particular interest to scholars of universities is Jean Dunbabin’s article on the role of Aristotelianism in the schools.

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                                                                                                                                                • Weiss, Roberto. Humanism in England during the Fifteenth Century. Oxford: Blackwell, 1967.

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                                                                                                                                                  A seminal text on the early influence of humanist ideas in England, first published in 1941. Although the remit of the book stretches far beyond the university context, this is a dimension of late medieval intellectual life that cannot be ignored. Described by one reviewer as “an arsenal of facts,” this is a useful reference tool as well as a stimulating thesis.

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                                                                                                                                                  Theology

                                                                                                                                                  Theology was one of the higher degrees taught at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It is implicit in much of the historiography that if academic study and research was controversial, it was in the faculties of theology that such controversies were centered. Seminal overviews of the period are provided in chronological order in Catto 1984, Courtenay 1992, and Catto 1992. A good sense of the careers and types of issues in which university theologians were interested is provided by a case study of four Oxford theologians in Little and Pelster 1934. More recently, historians have been particularly interested in the controversies generated, notably that between nominalists and realists in Courtenay 1972. Courtenay 1984 focuses on the particular figure of William of Ockham whose controversial views are essential to an understanding of the ways in which 14th-century academic theology developed. Likewise, controversies between mendicant orders and secular clergy in the university crystallized over theological questions and are examined in Zutschi 2002.

                                                                                                                                                  • Catto, Jeremy. “Theology and Theologians, 1220–1320.” In The Early Oxford Schools. Vol. 1, The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto, 471–517. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                    An excellent overview of the study of theology in the earlier part of the period, with useful references to particularly notable theologians.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Catto, Jeremy. “Theology after Wyclif.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2, The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 264–280. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                      Discusses the changes in the study of theology at Oxford following the repression of Wycliffite ideas. Suggests the importance of the Scotist tradition. Compares the role of theologians at Oxford with those at Cambridge and Paris.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Courtenay, William. “Nominalism and Late Medieval Thought: A Bibliographical Essay.” Theological Studies 33 (1972): 716–734.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/004056397203300405Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Provides a helpful introduction to the debate between nominalists and realists at the late medieval university and provides many references for further research.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Courtenay, William. “The Role of English Thought in the Transformation of University Education in the Late Middle Ages.” In Rebirth, Reform and Resilience: Universities in Transition 1300–1700. Edited by James Kittelson and Pamela Transue, 103–162. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                          This article explores attitudes specifically to the thought of William of Ockham and argues that the theological ramifications of this in an English context had far-reaching consequences for the nature of teaching throughout Europe.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Courtenay, William. “Theology and Theologians from Ockham to Wyclif.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2, The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 1–34. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                            Discusses a range of changes in the Faculty of Theology in the 14th century, from shorter study to different types of exposition. Explores these changes in the context of comparison with Paris.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Little, Andrew G., and Franz Pelster. Oxford Theology and Theologians, c. A.D. 1282–1302. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 96. Oxford: Clarendon, 1934.

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                                                                                                                                                              Based on the analysis of four manuscripts, provides detailed information about the careers and interests of a number of Oxford theologians.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Zutschi, Patrick. “The Mendicant Orders and the University of Cambridge in the Fourteenth and Early Fifteenth Century.” In The Church and Learning in Medieval Society: Studies in Honour of Professor R. B. Dobson. Edited by Caroline Barron and Jenny Stratford, 210–227. Donington, UK: Shaun Tyas, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                An account of antipathy toward the friars at Cambridge; the shifting nature of this antagonism; and the intersection between theological thought, international papal relations, and institutional conflict.

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                                                                                                                                                                Medicine

                                                                                                                                                                Generally a rather understudied area, faculties of medicine nevertheless saw important developments in this period. Bullough 2004 provides the most useful introduction to the importance of universities in medical developments.

                                                                                                                                                                • Bullough, Vern. Universities, Medicine and Science in the Medieval West. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                  A detailed examination of the nature of medical learning, and most particularly the transmission of medical knowledge. These collected essays cover a wide range of medical themes and the interface between university culture and medical care. Chapters 4 and 5 will be of particular interest to those working on the history of Oxford and Cambridge.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Law

                                                                                                                                                                  While Italian universities had provided, from their origins, effective training in law, in northern universities such as Paris and Oxford this was in many ways a development of the later Middle Ages: the growth of a legal profession in the later Middle Ages is a subject that has long fascinated both legal and social historians. Students might have studied canon or civil law, and increasingly were able thus to assure themselves lucrative positions after their studies. A general introduction to the way in which canon law was taught at universities can be found in Owen 1990. Boyle 1984 provides a useful overview of canon law teaching at Oxford, while Logan 1985 does similarly for Cambridge. For civil law, similar overviews are provided in Barton 1984 and Barton 1992, and a discussion of legal training in Brundage 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Barton, John L. “The Study of Civil Law before 1380.” In The Early Oxford Schools. Vol. 1 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto, 519–530. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Useful and extremely detailed overview of the nature of the study and teaching of civil law in Oxford in the early part of the period.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Barton, John L. “The Legal Faculties of Late Medieval Oxford.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 282–313. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Seminal overview of the legal faculties, with particular focus on their disputes with the Faculty of Arts. Details the studies and requirements of the students.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Boyle, Leonard. “The Canon Law before 1381.” In The Early Oxford Schools. Vol. 1 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto, 531–564. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Useful summary of the nature of canon law teaching at Oxford.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Brundage, James. The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226077611.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Useful introduction, particularly for students, to the early forms of legal training available in universities. Chapter 6 offers a particular focus on the university context.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Logan, F. Donald. “The Cambridge Law Faculty.” Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law 15 (1985): 117–125.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Useful summary of the nature of canon law teaching at Cambridge.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Owen, Dorothy. The Medieval Canon Law: Teaching, Learning and Transmission. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Wide-ranging introduction to the nature of medieval canon law and its transmission in a university context.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Language

                                                                                                                                                                              While there were obviously no specific language faculties in this period, there is evidence that attention was indeed given to the most effective pedagogical methods with regard to language learning. Hunt 1991 provides a compendium of manuscripts for teaching Latin, some of which refer to a university context.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Hunt, Tony. Teaching and Learning Latin in Thirteenth-Century England. 2 vols. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                A compendium of over two hundred manuscripts providing teaching aids for instruction in Latin. Not all these texts were intended for a university context, but some of them seem to have been designed for preliminary linguistic instruction at the universities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Social History of Universities

                                                                                                                                                                                In recent years, historians have turned from the institutional history of English universities to examine their social history: what types of students were likely to attend university, what everyday life was like in the universities, how students misbehaved, and what were the peculiar rites of passage to which they were subject have been some of the questions posed.

                                                                                                                                                                                Material Life

                                                                                                                                                                                The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge provide rich sources for the material history of universities since they are characterized by such continuity of purpose and many of the medieval buildings remain intact. Accordingly any study must begin with an architectural guide to the surviving buildings, provided in Willis 1988 for Cambridge and Tyack 1998 for Oxford. Equally, though, Pantin 1964 reconstructs a vision of what Oxford must have looked like using documentary and archaeological evidence, and acknowledging that the landscape of the city has in fact changed quite dramatically; the insights afforded by a rigorous archaeological approach can be seen in Newman and Evans 2011. It is perhaps surprising though that not more work has been undertaken in this area. A detailed sense of the practicalities of founding and building a college can be explored in Walker and Munby 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Newman, R., and C. Evans. “Archaeological Investigations at the Old Schools in Cambridge.” Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 100 (2011): 185–196.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Detailed archaeological discussion of gradual development of this area from the 14th to the 20th centuries, shedding light on town-gown relations and the status of university buildings. Provides useful insights into the benefits of archaeological investigation for the history of universities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Pantin, William A. “The Halls and Schools of Mediaeval Oxford: An Attempt at Reconstruction.” In Oxford Studies Presented to Daniel Callus. Oxford Historical Society, 31–100. Oxford Historical Society, New Series 16. Oxford: Clarendon, 1964.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    An example of analysis of buildings now vanished, using documentary and archaeological evidence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Tyack, Geoffrey. Oxford: An Architectural Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Perhaps the most useful reference work for the architectural history of Oxford, with many bibliographical indications for further research.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Walker, Simon and Munby, Julian. Building Accounts of All Souls College, 1438–1443. Oxford Historical Society, New Series 42. Oxford: Clarendon, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Drawing on All Souls’ MS 401, an impressively complete set of accounts for the building of the college in its first five years. There is a comprehensive commentary and analysis of these accounts, and plans of the site. Provides an almost unique set of insights into the material foundation of a college.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Willis, Robert. The Architectural History of the University of Cambridge and of the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton. Edited by John Willis Clark. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Useful reference work detailing the material history of the buildings of medieval Cambridge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Student Behavior and Misbehavior

                                                                                                                                                                                          As groups of young men at a transitional stage in their lives, it is perhaps unsurprising that students should present some quite specific forms of behavior and misbehavior (see also Town versus Gown Relations). One should perhaps start with the readily accessible primary sources, notably the edited Grace Book A of Cambridge (Leathes 2009, a reedition of an 1897 work), the collection of documents relating to everyday life in Oxford collected in Pantin 1972, and the edition of the 15th-century chancellor’s register of the University of Oxford detailing a range of misdemeanors (Pantin and Mitchell 1972). A general introduction to everyday life at Cambridge can be found in Rait 1912 and at Oxford in Salter 1936. In Oxford, historiographical attention was focused on the question of criminal activity in a seminal article claiming that levels of homicide in the university town were peculiarly high (Hammer 1978). While most explorations rely on legal or disciplinary documents, insights can also be gained by looking at theater and documents relating to festival activity (Billington 1991). Imaginative literature is clearly a key source for everyday life at medieval universities, and, while there is little work on this, Dougill 1998 is useful, and the poems edited in Furneaux 1896 are intriguing.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Billington, Melissa. Mock Kings in Medieval Society and Renaissance Drama. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Covers both the more well-known material about festivals of misrule and contains less frequently used material about such celebrations in a medieval English university context.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Dougill, James. Oxford in English Literature: The Making, and Undoing, of “The English Athens.” Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              A useful reference work for literary treatments of university life. Chapter 1 refers to the Middle Ages, and provides useful references for considering how figures such as Geoffrey Chaucer depicted the university.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Furneaux, Henry. “Poems Relating to the Riot between Town and Gown on St Scholastica’s Day (February 10th, 1354/5) and the Two Following Days.” In Collectanea, 3rd Series. Edited by Montagu Burrows, 163–187. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 32. Oxford: Clarendon, 1896.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Introduction to, and edition of, several poems contained in manuscript Bodleian 859, concerning the St Scholastica’s Day massacre of 1355. A highly unusual source, providing insights into reactions to the massacre.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hammer, Carl. “Patterns of Homicide in a Medieval University Town: Fourteenth-Century Oxford.” Past & Present 78 (1978): 3–23.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/past/78.1.3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  This article situates itself firmly within the historiography of medieval crime and uses judicial records to explore levels of violence in medieval Oxford, comparing it with 20th-century Chicago. An important insight into the social history of Oxford students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Leathes, Stanley Mordaunt. Grace Book A: Containing the Proctors’ Accounts and Other Records of the University of Cambridge for the Years 1454–1488. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Library Collection, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511692819Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Originally published in 1897, this is an edition of a grace book recording decisions of the administration of the University of Cambridge. It is a useful source for researching academic appointments, dispute resolution, and conferral of degrees among other matters. As a research tool, it is complemented by useful indexes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Pantin, William A. Oxford Life in Oxford Archives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      A collection of sources drawn from a variety of university administrative organs, including a number of statutes, which provide particular insights into the everyday lives of students. There is also a substantial introduction, which will be of particular interest to students, as it provides a basic sense of jurisdictional procedures within the university and institutional structures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pantin, William A., and Walter Mitchell, eds. The Register of Congregation, 1448–1463. Oxford Historical Society, New Series 22. Oxford: Clarendon, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        An edition of the 15th-century register of congregation in Oxford. The edition includes appendixes that reproduce later marginalia in the register and a number of letters from the 1440s that should have been inserted into the register itself. Detailed indexes make this volume a really useful research tool for details on the day-to-day running of the university.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Rait, Robert. Life in the Medieval University. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1912.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a useful introductory text for students, delineating the features of social life in the university and giving a sense of the range of sources—disciplinary and statutory—available.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Roth, Cecil. The Jews of Medieval Oxford. Oxford Historical Society, New Series 9. Oxford: Clarendon, 1951.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chapter 7 is of particular interest to historians of the university, detailing relations between the Jews of Oxford, and the university from which they were totally excluded. Points to the high intellectual cultivation of many Jewish figures in Oxford, and suggests there must have been some influence on intellectual currents in the university, even if impossible to pin down.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Salter, Herbert. Medieval Oxford. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 100. Oxford: Clarendon, 1936.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              An early and archivally rich set of insights into life in medieval Oxford. Full of useful references.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Town versus Gown Relations

                                                                                                                                                                                                              One very prominent dimension of student misbehavior lay in the antagonistic town versus gown relations with which medieval universities are so often, then and now, stereotyped. Hammer 1977 provides a useful corrective to the sense of inevitable conflict by arguing that town and gown cooperated quite visibly in the confraternity of Saint Thomas the Martyr in 15th-century Oxford. A far more traditional view is offered in Parker 1983, where town-gown rivalry is placed in the perspective of the broad sweep of the seven hundred years of the university’s history. Munby 2007 is provided in an edited collection of essays that provides a set of typologies useful for conceptualizing these kinds of conflicts. Munby’s contribution to this volume provides a more unusual way of thinking about these relations spatially.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Hammer, Karl. “The Town-Gown Confraternity of St. Thomas the Martyr in Oxford.” Mediaeval Studies 39 (1977): 466–476.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1484/J.MS.2.306842Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                To be read together with the article Hammer 1978 (cited under Student Behavior and Misbehavior). Explores an apparent shift from open conflict to collaboration between townspeople and students in a confraternal setting. An important corrective to stereotypes about inevitable antagonism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Munby, Julian. “Oxford: The Medieval University and the Town.” In Les universités et la ville au Moyen Âge: Cohabitation et tension. Edited by Pierre Gilli, Jacques Verger, and Denis le Blévec, 55–62. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004158764.i-373.8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A contribution in a volume that as a whole offers a useful set of typologies for considering town-gown relations. This article is particularly strong on the spatial dimension of town-gown interactions, particularly the placement of buildings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Parker, Robert. Town and Gown: The 700 Years’ War in Cambridge. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An introductory text exploring the long history of town-gown antagonisms. Useful as a starting point for more detailed research.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gender

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Growing interest in gender history has found an ideal subject of study in medieval universities: groups of young men in a unique institutional setting, and at a transitional stage in their lives, provide insights into constructions of masculinity. Following the growing interest in women’s history, Fletcher and Upton 1987 attempts to put women back into the picture of late medieval universities. More recently, attention has been rather upon the ways in which particular forms of masculinity were constructed. Karras 2000 argues that a wide range of agents contributed to these processes: the nature of syllabi, ritual ceremonies, statutes, encounters with women, and so on. In her book of 2002, Mazo Karras treats universities as one forum among many in which ideas of masculinity among youths could be crystallized and formative experiences undergone (see Karras 2002). A quite different approach is evident in Pratt 1962 in an important article on anti-matrimonial propaganda at the University of Oxford, where Pratt draws also upon literary sources in order to demonstrate the virulent discourse that attempted to denigrate marriage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Fletcher, John M., and Christopher A. Upton. “‘Monastic Enclave’ or ‘Open Society’? A Consideration of the Role of Women in the Life of an Oxford College Community in the Early Tudor Period.” History of Education 16 (1987): 1–9.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/0046760870160101Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Detailed analysis of the marginal role of women in a university context and the ways in which this gendered marginalization was sustained both in an intellectual and in an institutional sense.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Karras, Mazo R. “Sharing Wine, Women, and Song: Masculine Identity Formation in the Medieval European Universities.” In Becoming Male in the Middle Ages. Edited by Jeremy Cohen and Bonnie Wheeler, 187–202. New York: Garland, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Essential reading for examining the ways in which social identities, and more specifically gendered identities, were formed in a university context.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Karras, Mazo R. From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Seminal text with stimulating ideas about the constructions of gendered identities at formative periods in men’s lives. Chapter 3 focuses on the university context.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pratt, Robert. “Jankyn’s Book of Wikked Wyves: Medieval Antimatrimonial Propaganda in the Universities.” Annuale Medievale 3 (1962): 5–27.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            With a focus on Oxford, and a particular interest in literary accounts, this provides an original angle on the misogyny associated with a university context.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Prosopography

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Discussions of the social history of medieval universities must inevitably explore the backgrounds and further careers of those who went there. The social make up of English universities and the ways in which this may have shifted has been the subject of controversy. This controversy is, in part, sustained by the problems of the sources. Any work on this subject must begin with the biographical registers Emden 1957–1959 and Emden 1963 for Oxford and Cambridge, respectively, which collate most of the extant evidence to provide prosopographical information on several thousands of students who attended the universities. The deficiencies of the sources and consequent problems with these data sets are explored in detail in Aston 1977; further methodological concerns are raised in Courtenay 2001. The main lines of debate were provoked by the article Fitch Lytle 1974 that argued that the demographic change engendered by epidemic disease in the 14th century provoked a crisis of patronage, which in turn was responsible for the diminution in intellectual quality at universities. Fitch Lytle himself modified his argument (see Fitch Lytle 1984), and Swanson 1985 discussed the need to be careful with the terminology for university-trained men, and the difficulties of assessing the importance of a university education; this latter explored the effects of wider circumstances such as schism and appropriation. Courtenay 1980 provides an alternative perspective by arguing that, while demographic change dramatically affected the quality of secondary education, the effects on university higher education were at best indirect. Aston 1977 tackled Fitch Lytle’s claims by arguing that his figures were part of a much longer-term pattern of decline. Evans 1992, however, argues that numbers were actually surprisingly stable and presents an optimistic picture of career prospects for students. Aston, et al. 1980 is a similar account for the University of Cambridge. An alternative analytical perspective is provided in Dobson 1978, which discusses a general context of decline by examining the educational attainments of churchmen. A useful summary of the debate can be found in Courtenay 1987 (cited under General Overviews), pp. 138–142. The place of the nobility in this picture is considered in Rosenthal 1969, which demonstrates the very limited contact between the aristocracy and the two English universities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Aston, Trevor. “Oxford’s Medieval Alumni.” Past and Present 74 (1977): 3–40.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/past/74.1.3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A useful introduction to the sources and the problems thereof for doing prosopography of the medieval university. The article contains a helpful critique of Emden’s computer databases of medieval students, which registered 14,922 alumni, but as an unknown fraction of the whole owing to the deficiencies of the sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Aston, Trevor, George Duncan, and Ralph Evans. “The Medieval Alumni of the University of Cambridge.” Past and Present 86 (1980): 9–86.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/past/86.1.9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Uses grace books and proctors’ accounts for prosopographical analysis with a particular emphasis on social origins and geographical provenance of the students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Courtenay, William. “The Effect of the Black Death on English Higher Education.” Speculum 55.4 (1980): 696–714.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2847661Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Examines the demographic effect of plague in Oxford relative to that of the country as a whole. The argument is sustained that, while numbers of deaths may have been relatively low, the quality of education suffered because of the knock-on effect from mortality at local schools. Engages with the argument of Fitch Lytle regarding a crisis of patronage by arguing that the vacancy of many positions actually engendered a rise in the number of university theologians.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Courtenay, William. “Prosopography and University Sources: The Case of Paris.” Medieval Prosopography 22 (2001): 143–152.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Although focusing on Paris, there are important methodological insights and caveats here for any student of university prosopography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Dobson, Barrie. “Oxford Graduates and the So-Called Patronage Crisis of the Late Middle Ages.” In The Church in a Changing Society: Conflict-Reconciliation or Adjustment? Proceedings of the CIHEC-Conference in Uppsala, August 17–21, 1977. International Commission on Comparative Ecclesiastical History, 211–216. Uppsala, Sweden: Publications of the Swedish Society of Church History, 1978.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Discusses the general context of decline in 15th-century Oxford, based on an analysis of the educational attainments of dignitaries and canons of York minster in the later Middle Ages. Argues that there was no positive prejudice against university graduates, and compares Oxford and Cambridge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Emden, Alfred. A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1957–1959.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An essential reference work that was later made into a database.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Emden, Alfred. Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge to 1500. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1963.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          An essential reference work.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Evans, Ralph. “The Number, Origins and Careers of Scholars.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 485–538. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This article situates itself explicitly in the debate over student numbers sustained particularly by Fitch Lytle and Courtenay. It suggests that numbers were likely to have been higher than many historians have supposed, and points to a surprising stability in numbers. The article also grapples with the social composition of the student body, geographical provenance, age, and careers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Fitch Lytle, Guy. “Patronage Patterns and Oxford Colleges, c. 1300–1530.” In The University in Society. Vol. 1. Edited by Lawrence Stone, 111–149. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A seminal article that provoked a far-reaching debate, regarding changing attitudes to absenteeism following mass mortality and the effects this had for the patronage via benefices for late medieval students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Fitch Lytle, Guy. “The Careers of Oxford Students in the Later Middle Ages.” In Rebirth, Reform and Resilience: Universities in Transition 1300–1700. Edited by James Kittelson, and Pamela Transue, 213–253. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Examines the careers, often in governmental service, of Oxford students after their study. Offers important insights into the increasingly vocational nature of study, and argues that there is dissonance between the very negative view in the contemporary literary imagination of the prospects of students, and the more positive reality of opportunities open to them.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Rosenthal, Joel. “The Universities and the Medieval English Nobility.” History of Education Quarterly 9.4 (1969): 415–437.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/367079Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Study of the proportions of men of noble families studying at the English universities between 1307 and 1485. Interesting detail on the study abroad of some of these figures. Argues that the universities had little to offer the aristocracy at this point, and that most noblemen who studied at universities went on to careers in the church.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Swanson, Robert N. “University Graduates and Benefices in Later Medieval England.” Past and Present 106.1 (1985): 28–61.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/past/106.1.28Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An important contribution to the debate inaugurated by Fitch Lytle 1974, and broadly corroborates Fitch Lytle’s argument while suggesting that the period of crisis may have been a little shorter. Draws attention to problems of terminology, and to the wider context that may have contributed to the “crisis.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Institutional Structures

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For all these categories, I refer the reader to the volume edited by Hilde de Ridder-Symoens cited in Introductory Works, which contains useful introductions to the institutional framework of the universities. In order to grapple with the institutional complexity of medieval universities, it is useful to break down the issue into particular dimensions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Legal Status of Students

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Students were, famously, subject to privilegium fori, the jurisdictional privileges that accompanied their clerical status. Kibre 1962 provides what is still the seminal account of scholarly privileges and legal status.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kibre, Pearl. Scholarly Privileges in the Middle Ages: the Rights, Privileges and Immunities of Scholars and Universities at Bologna, Padua, Paris, and Oxford. New York: Medieval Academy of America, 1962.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Essential guide for students and researchers into the nature, significance, and development of judicial privileges of students over the course of the Middle Ages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Faculties

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Perhaps surprisingly, there is not an enormous literature on faculties as institutions within medieval English universities. Useful insights are to be found in Fletcher 1987, with a particular focus on the often-antagonistic relations between faculties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Fletcher, John M. “Inter-Faculty Disputes in Late Medieval Oxford.” In From Ockham to Wyclif. Edited by Anne Hudson and Michael Wilks, 331–342. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This article provides students with useful insights into the nature of faculties, the loyalties that they generated, and the ways in which these issues can be crystallized at moments of conflict.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Colleges

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the popular imagination, colleges lie at the heart of Oxbridge. Yet their medieval antecedents were structurally rather different. Overviews of the medieval college system are provided in Highfield 1984 and Cobban 1992. Gabriel 1961 is a useful exploration of 14th-century colleges, while Brooke and Highfield 1988 expounds the argument that the college system expanded dramatically in the 15th century. While these studies explore the institutional significance and development of colleges, Cobban 1976 and Cobban 1980 are very significant contributions to our understanding of their developing teaching roles. For studies of individual colleges, see Studies of Particular Colleges. There is much primary evidence surviving that can sustain such studies, notably an 1853 edition of college statutes (Statutes of the Colleges of Oxford) and the Rolls of Merton College, which are a particularly rich source (Highfield 1964); Darwall-Smith 1999–2001 is an edition of the account rolls of University College, which affords important insights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Brooke, Christopher, and Roger Highfield. Oxford and Cambridge. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chapter 6 of this volume, entitled “The Colleges Take Over,” provides a seminal account of the rapid development of colleges from the mid-15th century onward, and explores the implications of this in a wider context of the advent of humanism and relations with the crown.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Cobban, Alan. “Decentralized Teaching in the Medieval English Universities.” History of Education 5.3 (1976): 193–206.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/0046760760050301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Discusses the transformation of universities as teaching institutions, as teaching became more heavily centered in the secular colleges.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cobban, Alan. “The Medieval Cambridge Colleges: A Quantitative Study of Higher Degrees to 1500.” History of Education 9.1 (1980): 1–12.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/0046760800090101Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Explores, through quantitative analysis, the growing disjunction between the avowed theological aims of colleges and their increasing focus on law. An argument is made that this disjunction largely arose because legal studies were so lucrative.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cobban, Alan. “Colleges and Halls, 1380–1500.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 582–633. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Focuses on New College, Oxford, and the King’s Hall, Cambridge. Explores the reasons behind, and evolution of, their foundation, and discusses recruitment practices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Darwall-Smith, Robin. Account Rolls of University College. 2 vols. Oxford Historical Society, New Series 39–40. Oxford: Clarendon, 1999–2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Volume 1 (1999) contains an edition of the rolls from 1381/1382, to 1470/1471; Volume 2 (2001) contains an edition of the rolls from 1471/1472, to 1596/1597.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gabriel, Astrik. “The College System in the Fourteenth-Century Universities.” In The Forward Movement of the Fourteenth Century. Edited by Francis Utley, 79–124. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1961.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Useful overview of the role of colleges before their more remarkable ascendancy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Highfield, Roger. The Early Rolls of Merton College. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Useful edition of the early administrative documents of this early foundation of 1264.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Highfield, Roger. “The Early Colleges.” In The Early Oxford Schools. Vol. 1 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto, 225–264. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Important overview of the early college foundations and their institutional role.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Statutes of the Colleges of Oxford: With Royal Patents of Foundation, Injunctions of Visitors, and Catalogues of Documents Relating to the University, Preserved in the Public Record Office. Oxford: Parker, 1853.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a valuable edition of the foundation statutes of the colleges, useful for institutional history and for exploring a sense of the motivations, political or religious, behind these foundations. Can be viewed online.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Studies of Particular Colleges

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There are a wealth of histories of specific colleges, of which only a few outstanding examples have been selected here. Feingold 1981 has argued that this historiography can be lacking in scholarly depth, but notes some striking examples of fine, archivally based scholarship that demonstrates the importance of colleges in their wider context. A case in point is Green 1979, which gives an account of the history of Lincoln College to mark its 550th anniversary in 1977; Twigg 1987 provides a similarly rich account of the history of Queen’s College, Oxford. Some of the best scholarship of this kind focuses explicitly upon the motives propelling the foundation of colleges: Catto 1993 and Storey 1979 discuss the reasons behind the foundations of All Souls College and New College, respectively. Some histories, such as Catto 2013, are particularly strong on the wider political and intellectual context in which the college operated; others, such as Brooke 1985, are noteworthy for their strong prosopographical focus. Some colleges evolved out of earlier foundations, and Cunich, et al. 1994 is a good example. Likewise, studies of medieval foundations that no longer exist are essential—for example, Pantin 1942–1985.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Brooke, Christopher. A History of Gonville and Caius College. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chapters 1, 2, and 3 will be of most interest to medievalists. The volume is particularly strong on the foundation and prosopography of the college; there is also useful information about the library.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Catto, Jeremy. Unarmed Soldiery: Studies in the Early History of All Souls College, Oxford. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A collection of essays arising from the Chichele Lectures in 1993–1994. Explicitly demonstrates the increasingly politicized nature of collegiate life, royal interest in the college, and the perception that learning could be politically useful.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Catto, Jeremy, ed. Oriel College: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chapters 1, 2, and 3, all by Catto, relate to Oriel from its foundation until 1574. He is keen to set Oriel in the context of wider changes in Oxford and the Kingdom of England, both intellectually and politically. There is a strong focus on the intellectual history of the college.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cunich, Peter, David Hoyle, Eamon Duffy, and Ronald Hyam, eds. A History of Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1428–1988. Cambridge, UK: Magdalene College, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Detailed, archivally based publication. Chapter 1 by Peter Cunich relates to the medieval foundation and discusses the period when the institution was known as Buckingham College from the 1470s. Considers such themes as the material history of the college, patronage, intellectual formation, questions of pedagogy, and the impact of changes in the university as a whole.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Feingold, Morderchai. “Oxford and Cambridge College Histories: An Outdated Genre.” History of Universities 1 (1981): 207–213.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that this is an area of historiography that has long been dominated by somewhat introspective works essentially written for old members of the college in question. Describes a number of exceptions, and suggests what the goals of this kind of scholarship should be.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Green, Vivian. The Commonwealth of Lincoln College, 1427–1977. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Includes a useful section on the origins of the college and its rootedness in responses to Wycliffite errors. Also details the financial difficulties of the early years. The role of the college in the wider context of the Wars of the Roses is examined, and attention is drawn to the intellectual conservatism of the institution.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pantin, William A. Canterbury College, Oxford. 4 vols. Oxford Historical Society, New Series 6–8, 30. Oxford: Clarendon, 1942–1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Volume 1 contains inventories of the college; Volume 2, the accounts; Volume 3, miscellaneous documents including charters relating to endowments, the college statutes of 1384, graces for degrees, scholarships, and so on; Volume 4 is a general history of the college, published posthumously.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Storey, Robin. “The Foundation of the Medieval College 1379–1530.” In New College, Oxford 1379–1979. Edited by John Buxton and Penry Williams, 3–43. Oxford: New College, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Examination of the motivations of the founder William of Wykeham. A prosopographical sense of the diverse origins of the students is offered. The gradual ascendency of legal studies over theology is traced.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Twigg, John. A History of Queen’s College, Cambridge 1448–1986. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Part 2, which discusses the college from the 15th to the 17th centuries, will be of most interest to medievalists. It is based on detailed archival research. Explores benefactions, scholarships, endowments, the duties of the various college officers, evidence of quarrels and misdemeanors, family connections, and the growth of interest in scientific matters from the early 16th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Masters of Arts tended to be placed in organizations known as “nations” within the university, which in no way corresponded to any political sense of nation: these were groupings based upon geographical provenance. Kibre 1948 is still the most important and seminal overview. A case for the significance of the nations at Oxford, often assumed to be of minor importance, is made in Emden 1964.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Emden, Alfred. “Northerners and Southerners in the Organisation of the University to 1509.” In Oxford Studies Presented to Daniel Callus. 1–30. Oxford Historical Society, New Series 16. Oxford: Clarendon, 1964.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Important argument that the nations at Oxford were more significant in the administration of the university than had been acknowledged. Interesting material on frictions between the nations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Kibre, Pearl. The Nations in the Medieval University. Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 1948.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An essential guide for both students and researchers to the nature of the medieval nation. Amasses a wealth of archival material to demonstrate the formation, functioning, and significance of nations in various universities across Europe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Finances

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The financial structures of the universities are of interest in their own right as part of their institutional histories, but have wider implications for the power relations and social make up within the universities. In this sense, this section should be used in conjunction with Prosopography. Post 1932 provides a useful introduction to the ways in which these financial structures worked, and Fletcher and Upton 1985 explores the social implications of the costs associated with university study and the fragility of the situation for those of more modest means. Beyond the implications for individual students, the effects of these structures on wider questions of student power are seminally explored in comparative context in Cobban 1971 (see Universities in Sociopolitical Context).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Fletcher, John M., and Christopher A. Upton. “The Cost of Undergraduate Study at Oxford in the Fifteenth Century: The Evidence of the Merton College ‘Founder’s Kin.’” History of Education 14.1 (1985): 1–20.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Important article extrapolating from a particular source in order to assess the costs of study and hence the social composition of students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Post, Gaines. “Masters Salaries and Student Fees in Medieval Universities.” Speculum 7 (1932): 181–198.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Useful introduction to the financial structures of university life and its implications for masters and students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Religion

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Universities were religious institutions, and their origins in many ways predicated on monastic forms of learning, and certainly mimicked monastic houses spatially (this is particularly striking in colleges). The religious life of English universities must then be a critical area of study.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sermons

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    University men were responsible for many sermons in this period, and sermons provide an important point of contact between universities and their surrounding communities (Hamesse, et al. 1998). Essential reference tools for negotiating the vast numbers of surviving sermons are to be found in Schneyer 1969–1990 and Hodl and Koch 2001. These are complex research tools, and a more accessible introduction is Wenzel 2005, which also contains some important methodological insights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hamesse, Jacqueline, Beverly Kienzle, Anne Thayer, and Debra Stoudt, eds. Medieval Sermons and Society: Cloister, City, University. Textes et Études du Moyen Âge 9. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An important collection of articles exploring the role of sermons as a point of intersection between university life and surrounding communities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hodl, Ludwig, and Wendelin Koch, eds. Repertorium der lateinischen Sermones des Spatmittelalters 1350 bis 1500. Münster, Germany: Aschendorff, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        CD-ROM. The complement to the work of Schneyer 1969–1990 for the latter part of the Middle Ages: an essential index of surviving sermons.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Schneyer, Johannes Baptist, ed. Repertorium der lateinsichen Sermones des Mittelalters fur die Zeit von 1150–1350. 11 vols. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 43. Münster, Germany: Aschendorff, 1969–1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The essential index of surviving medieval sermons.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Wenzel, Siegfried. Latin Sermon Collections from Later Medieval England: Orthodox Preaching in the Age of Wyclif. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511483394Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A useful introduction to the nature of preaching in this period, and a guide to the source material available.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Heresy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The University of Oxford is inevitably associated with the Wycliffite heresy in the late 14th century and the backlash and censorship that this engendered in the early 15th century. While much of the historiography of Wycliffism or Lollardy is focused upon the wider implications and social history of this heretical group, several historians have focused upon the academic origins of the movement. Catto 1992 is a complex account of Wycliffite ideas in a university context and demonstrates their debt to a wider context of academic debates at this point; a similar project underpins Robson 1961. Copeland 2005 takes this analysis a stage further by exploring the connection between the development of dissenting ideas and pedagogical techniques. Historians have also studied the ways in which the university sought to control these very problematic ideas (Larsen 2011), particularly through censorship (see Kerby-Fulton 2011, under Censorship).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Catto, Jeremy. “Wyclif and Wycliffism in Oxford, 1356–1430.” In Late Medieval Oxford. Vol. 2 of The History of the University of Oxford. Edited by Jeremy Catto and Ralph Evans, 186–219. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A useful account of the complexity of Wycliffite ideas in a university context.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Copeland, Rita. Pedagogy, Intellectuals, and Dissent in the Later Middle Ages: Lollardy and Ideas of Learning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Examines the longer genealogy of dissenting ideas, and focuses specifically on the development of radical ideas in a pedagogical context. Adopts an approach of literary scholarship and demonstrates how modern theoretical approaches can illuminate our understanding here.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Larsen, Andrew. The School of Heretics: Academic Condemnation at the University of Oxford 1277–1409. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004206618.i-323Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A more introductory text, suitable for students. Chapters 8 to 12 are focused on Lollardy and offer a particular appreciation of how the university sought to control the heresy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Robson, John Adam. Wyclif and the Oxford Schools: The Relation of the “Summa de Ente” to Scholastic Debates at Oxford in the Later Fourteenth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1961.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sets Wycliffite ideas firmly in their intellectual setting at the University of Oxford.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Universities in Sociopolitical Context

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The idea that universities were ivory towers, in which masters and students were engaged in esoteric learning of little political import, has been largely dismantled. One can begin with the primary sources, and the helpful edition Anstey 1898 presents letters between university and magnates indicative of the university’s desire to be taken seriously in a political context. Shadwell 1911 is an edition of enactments in parliament concerning the University of Oxford, and adds to this picture. The context of the schism and subsequent conciliarism is a useful prism in which to examine university involvement in wider politics (Swanson 1979). An alternative perspective is to focus upon the intellectual contributions of university academics to debates in political theory, and Coleman 2006 is an important contribution in this respect. Finally, students themselves were always potentially politically engaged, although perhaps less so than one might expect, and Cobban 1971 is a seminal contribution comparing the “student power” of Oxford students with that of students in Paris and Bologna; he argues that northern students were younger, and less autonomous institutionally, so that the likelihood of political protest was greatly diminished.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Anstey, Henry. Epistolae academicae Oxon. (Registrum F): A Collection of Letters and Other Miscellaneous Documents Illustrative of Academical Life and Studies at Oxford in the Fifteenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 35–36. Oxford: Clarendon, 1898.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An edition of a collection of letters, many between the university authorities and magnates such as the Duke of Bedford or Duke of Gloucester. Extremely useful for those wishing to explore the university’s conception of its role in the wider political community.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cobban, Alan. “Medieval Student Power.” Past and Present 53 (1971): 28–66.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/past/53.1.28Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Seminal article comparing student power and direct action in Italian universities with student power in northern universities, including English ones. Correlations are drawn between student unrest and average age, constitutional arrangements within universities, and finances.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Coleman, Janet. “The Science of Politics and Late Medieval Academic Debate.” In Criticism and Dissent in the Middle Ages. Edited by Rita Copeland, 181–214. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Examines the interplay between universities and the public political sphere in the development of political ideas, and argues for the distinctiveness of the Middle Ages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Shadwell, Leonard. Enactments in Parliament Concerning Oxford and Cambridge. Vol. 1, 37 Edw. III–13 Anne. Oxford Historical Society, First Series 58. Oxford: Clarendon, 1911.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An edition of parliamentary responses to the perceived increasingly precarious situation of the universities over the course of the later Middle Ages.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Swanson, Robert. Universities, Academics and the Great Schism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511523229Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Explores the role of the universities in the Great Schism of the late 14th and early 15th centuries, and in the conciliar movement more generally. The book addresses the European context of university involvement, but masters from Oxford, such as Nicholas de Fakenham, are considered.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Relations Between English and Continental Universities

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It is a truism of medieval university life that many scholars travelled between universities. While many of the texts considered in this article discuss Oxford and Cambridge in comparative European perspective, many also explore the connections, both intellectual and administrative, between the English and continental universities. These connections are explored particularly effectively in Cobban 1988 and Leff 1968. An example of a more microcosmic study of the reasons for which English scholars travelled between institutions can be found in Mitchell 1936, and it would be interesting to see much more work of this kind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cobban, Alan. The Medieval English Universities: Oxford and Cambridge to c. 1500. Aldershot, UK: Scholar, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A seminal overview of the English universities, with frequent reference to inspiration provided by, and transmission of ideas between, Oxford and Cambridge and the continental universities. See particularly pp. 3–110.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Leff, Gordon. Paris and Oxford Universities in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: An Institutional and Intellectual History. New York: John Wiley, 1968.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A seminal text in its own right, but also a useful summary of the scholarship up until 1968. The book explores the interrelationships between the two universities, particularly in terms of intellectual history, but also insists on the ways in which Oxford differentiated itself.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Mitchell, Rosamond. “English Students at Padua, 1460–75.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 19 (1936): 101–117.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Discusses evidence of English students at Padua, and places this in the wider context of their university and subsequent careers. Demonstrates that Italian universities were used by English students to add “luster” to their careers.

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