The Growth of Universities 12th–15th centuries


Map Code: Ax02396

The precursor to the development of universities in Europe was the reform programme of Pope Gregory VII (1073–85), whose centralization of papal power and expansion of canon law led to a drive for the professionalization of the clergy. His 1079 papal decree regulated the formation of cathedral schools, some of which would evolve into the first universities. The process by which they formed was usually ad hoc, with students banding together into scholastic guilds, using their collective bargaining power to buy the services of academics to support their education. In Bologna (reputedly the oldest university, dating back to 1088), the student representative body controlled the hiring, firing and rates of pay for their teachers and the content of courses. The University of Naples, for instance, was founded by the holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1224, to train effective skilled bureaucrats for his administration. The independent colleges and halls that coalesced to form the universities of Oxford and (later) Cambridge were usually endowed by aristocratic benefactors. The University of Paris constituted a further model established by ecclesiastical patronage. The typical entry age for students was 14–15 years. The degree of Master of Arts commonly took six years to complete and consisted of seven subjects: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music theory.

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