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The schools of medieval Europe owed their curriculum of secular studies to the imperial rhetoric schools of Rome. For some centuries after the barbarian invasions Christian bishops kept alight the lamp of learning: in schools where much ‘chant’ and ‘doctrine’ and but a meagre fragment of the old Roman studies were afforded, but the whole curriculum was eventually reclaimed for Christian schools. The imperial schools were 'public schools', in the sense that access to them was open to all who could pay the fees, often small through the subvention of the State, to the rhetor or grammarian; when the expression ‘scholae publicae’ is found, rarely enough, in early medieval documents, it always looks back to a school of this type—either one largely maintained by the State, or the school of a private master teaching for fees—in distinction to episcopal schools, where the pupil might be maintained and taught without payment, but where the bishop or his deputy settled questions of admission.

The curriculum of the imperial schools, viewed by medieval scholars through the writings of Martianus Capella, consisted of the seven liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music. The classification was retained by Boethius (ob. 524), who was the first to divide the subjects into two groups, the trivium and quadrivium. Cassiodorus noted the appropriateness of the sevenfold distinction and its connection with the perfect number of scripture, and Isidore of Seville preserved it in his Origines. The seven liberal arts fell into line with the general predilection for seven divisions in the medieval world, with the seven grades of the clerical militia, the seven articles of the creed, and the seven deadly sins. Under grammar was included the study of the Latin classics, under rhetoric the schemata, tropes, and figures so useful for the interpretation of Christian scriptures, under dialectic the logic of Porphyry and, after the twelfth-century renaissance, of Aristotle. Geometry included geography and such slender conceptions of a Ptolemaic universe as survived; arithmetic was for long represented chiefly by the computus, or tables for establishing the date of Easter and the moveable feasts; and the last two subjects found for some time few professors, the study of Greek music not being necessary for the chant.

The question of the persistence of the rhetoric schools is of great interest.In Britain they perished with the withdrawal of the legions, though the tradition of classical learning survived in the British monasteries of Wales, Armorica, and Ireland. In Gaul in the fourth 766 Schools of rhetoric century masters were still numerous and schools flourishing, to judge from the information about his colleagues given by the rhetor Ausonius, and from other evidence. The continuity of schools in particular towns depended on the presence of celebrated professors; but during the century the existence of schools of several masters is to be inferred at Autun, Marseilles (where Greek was taught as well as Latin), Lyons, Bordeaux, Besançon, Toulouse, Narbonne, Poitiers, Angouleme, Saintes, and Auch. The fifth century brought to Gaul the shock of the Burgundian, Visigothic, and Frankish invasions, and the raid of Attila; the public schools were no longer supported by the State, and Sidonius Apollinaris witnesses to the willingness of the Roman provincial nobles to settle down under barbarian rule. The schools were no longer assured of a clientele preparing for an imperial career, and, except at Lyons, there were no longer groups of masters, though individual rhetors are known to have taught at Marseilles, Aries, Agen, Perigueux, Bordeaux, and possibly at Narbonne and Clermont. In the sixth century the ruin of the schools was completed; the liberal arts were no longer taught; Gregory of Tours wrote that "the culture of liberal letters is declining, or rather perishing, in the towns of Gaul... one would not know how to find a single man instructed in dialectic or grammar"; Fortunatus, the great man of letters of the period, had been brought up in Ravenna. When schools were again founded in Gaul, they were schools of a different type.

In Italy, however, the rhetoric schools never perished—a fact vital to the survival of European civilization, law, and politics. The Ostrogoths Theodoric (ob. 526) and Athalaric (ob. 534) protected them, and the generation which included Ennodius, Boethius, and Cassiodorus profited by the brief spell of peace. Schools were numerous, treatises on grammar were multiplied, and Cassiodorus planned with Pope Agapetus the foundation of a Christian rhetoric school at Rome for the teaching of the liberal arts—a scheme narrowed later to the foundation of his learned monastery at Vivarium. The Lombard invasion proved far more dangerous to the schools than that of the Ostrogoths; but the strength of local tradition, the nearness of the vernacular language to Latin, the contact with Byzantine learning by means of the Greek cities of the South, prevented their disappearance, and produced important results. First, up to and during the Carolingian renaissance, Italy supplied Europe, if not with great scholars, at least with grammar masters trained on the old classical lines. Bethar (ob. 623), an early scholasticus and Bishop of Chartres, who was for some time in charge of the Merovingian palace school (where his teaching was no doubt more religious than literary) came from Italy; as did Hadrian and Theodore, Paulus Diaconus and Peter of Pisa, Lanfranc and Anselm, and many others. Secondly, the tradition of lay scholarship persisted in Italy. Whereas elsewhere in Europe schools were maintained by ecclesiastics, and masters and scholars were clerks, in Italy the rhetoric masters and their scholars were not clerks, though they Clerkship and the tonsure irritated the bishops by claiming benefit of clergy. Thirdly, the lay character of the Italian rhetoric schools, and the ecclesiastical character of other European schools, account for the fact that when, later, groups of schools flowered into universities, Italy took the lead in the secular studies of law and medicine, while Paris was mistress of theology.

Clerkship and the tonsure

The connection between the other type of early medieval school, the episcopal or monastic school, and the minor orders of the clergy, was so close that some reference must be made to it. Those who taught in such schools before 1300, and, with the few exceptions of the children of princes and nobles, those who attended them also, were either clerks or probationers for the clericatus : they received the tonsure and wore the clerical dress. The shearing of the hair (not at first the shaving of the top of the head, leaving a corona or fringe of hair all round) was a sacred rite administered by the abbot to the postulant whom he received, and who did not necessarily proceed afterwards to any of the seven orders of the Church; or by the bishop before the administration of the first minor order. The idea in each case was the same — adoption into the abbot’s or bishop’s familia. The non-monastic tonsure was not an order, but (according to John de Burgh in the Pupilla Oculi of 1385) “a disposition towards an order”. The seven orders (ostiarius, exorcista, lector, acolita, sub- (or hypo-) diaconus, diaconus, presbyter) were all, at first, given separately, but by the sixth century the first and second, or the first, second, and third, were conferred on the same day, and the candidate was ordained exorcist, or, more usually, lector. In England in Archbishop Ecgbert’s time candidates would still seem to have been ordained to each order separately; but Peckham allowed the first three minor orders to be conferred together, and the Pupilla Oculi states that all four might be so conferred. The non-monastic tonsure (it is inexact to call it the “clerical tonsure” since monks were clerks) has always, in the Greek Church, accompanied ordination to the first minor order. In the Latin Church it was first allowed to be given separately, to those who had no intention of proceeding to orders, by Gregory the Great, in the case of the Sicilian actionarii employed in administering the papal patrimony. It was also given separately, after the Carolingian renaissance, to children of seven or over who were received into bishops' households to be trained as their diocesan clergy; before this, such children appear to have been ordained lectors at once. In pre-Conquest England, evidence that the (non-monastic) tonsure was given separately from the conferment of a minor order is lacking. In any case, in Europe generally, the number of those who received the (non-monastic) tonsure without proceeding then or later to minor orders was not great before the rise of the universities in the late twelfth century; afterwards, it was considerable. The reception of the tonsure, like the admission to minor orders, did not entail celibacy, though those who received them usually practised it for a time as living a community life, either, in the earlier centuries, in some bishop’s familia, or, later, in some college of the university or provincial hostel. Episcopal statutes frequently reiterated that none could claim benefit of clergy who scorned to wear the tonsure and the clerical dress. Clerkship was proved by the production of letters of clerkship granted by the bishop at the time of conferment, or failing this, in France, by the production of barbers to swear that the tonsure had been properly made. It was only later than 1300 that English law allowed clerkship to be proved by the reading of certain psalm verses; and even then the verses usually chosen were from the sixteenth psalm: “The Lord himself is the portion of mine inheritance... thou shalt maintain my lot. The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground”, which the candidate would have recited in alternate verses with the bishop who was shearing him. Clerkship before 1300 implied a definite ecclesiastical status and duties, and not merely ability to read or write; nor should clerks be confounded with those who were, for various reasons, entitled to benefit of clergy — a larger number.

Child lectors

By far the most important pre-Carolingian schools were the bishops' schools—small groups of lectors living in their households. The bishops formed the “ordo doctorum”, and in this conception the teaching of the diocesan clergy personally in their own household seems to have been an equally important element with the teaching of the laity by means of sermons. Throughout the middle ages, “cathedra”, of course, meant equally a “cathedral” or a professor’s “chair”. In the early Middle Ages, except for periods of confusion due to the barbarian invasions, bishops were ideally supposed to live a communal life with the clergy of their familia. References to this familia, and the ecclesiastical training afforded in it, are frequent in papal letters and conciliar decrees, and show that the adoption of children of seven into it preceded even the fail of the public rhetoric schools. It was the disappearance of these, however, which made such episcopal schools vital. As long as the rhetoric schools existed, the lives of the more learned bishops show them to have been taught in such schools; but, after their disappearance, the biographies of even the most learned bishops show them to have been received (usually as children) and trained in some bishop's household. Pope Siricius wrote in 385 to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona that “Whoever vows himself to the service of the Church from his infancy (i.e. seven years old) ought to be baptized and joined to the ministry of the lectors”. Certain Statuta Antigua mentioned these child lectors, who read in church, and laid down interesting rules for the regulation of the bishop’s familia of clerks, “widows”, and pilgrims. Pope Zosimus wrote (c. 418) to Esychius of these lectors: “If he shall have given his name from infancy to ecclesiastical ministries, let him remain until his twentieth year with continual observance among the lectors”. Leo I wrote to the African bishops about the choice of suitable candidates for the priesthood: “The venerable sanctions of the holy fathers justly adjudged those to be suitable for sacred functions whose whole life, from childhood to more advanced age, has been passed by means of the stipends of ecclesiastical discipline”. A stipend, an allowance sufficient to support life, could hardly have been made to children otherwise than by maintenance in the bishop’s familia: and this is actually stated by the Council of Toledo in 531.

The first conciliar decree expressly dealing with familial schools came from sixth century Gaul, where the rhetoric schools had just perished. The Council of Vaison in 529 enacted that “all priests (presbyteri) who are appointed to parochiae shall, according to the custom which we have learned is wisely observed throughout all Italy, receive to live with them, in their house where they themselves dwell, young lectors (as many as have taken no wife); and, spiritually nourishing them like good fathers, they shall strive to prepare psalms, to persist in readings of Scripture (divinae lectiones), and in teaching the law of the Lord; so that they may provide for themselves worthy successors, and receive from the Lord the reward of eternal life. But when they shall come to full age, if any of them through the frailty of the fiesh wishes to marrry, he shall not be denied power to marry”. The school of a “mater ecclesia” in a “rural diocese” is clearly here indicated; no chaplain of a rural “oratorium” could have nourished an indefinite number of young lectors. The cost of the maintenance and education of these ordinands is clearly the cause of the frequent enactments that no bishop should ordain the scholar of another. The Council of Toledo in 531 said expressly that it was unfair to the bishop who had taken the child “from rustic and mean surroundings” that he should later, “when imbued with such an education”, transfer himself to another church. This council also echoed the decree of Vaison, applying it to bishops’ schools: “Of those whom the will of their parents sets free from the years of their first infancy for the clerical office, we decree that immediately they have received the tonsure they shall be handed over to the ministry of the lectors; they ought to be taught in the house of the church, in the bishop’s presence, by his deputy. But, when they shall have completed their eighteenth year, their wishes concerning the taking of a wife ought to be scrutinized by the bishop in the presence of clerks and laity”. It was doubtless to this formal choice of the young lectors trained in the familia of Augustine at Christ Church, Canterbury, that Gregory the Great looked forward, when he advised Augustine to live the apostolic (communal) life with his clergy, allowing such lectors as wished at this stage to marry to do so, and to receive their stipends (maintenance) outside the community, while attending its offices. The training of the Canterbury (and Rochester) child lectors by “masters and pedagogues” is independently attested. Gregory the Great himself founded a “schola cantorum” at Rome of a similar nature: he built, that is, two new houses for the school in the papal household which had already existed. The functions of “lectors” and “cantors” run into one another in medieval documents; the cantor or psalmista was not necessarily episcopally “blessed”, the cantorate not being one of the seven orders in the Western Church, although it was in the Eastern. In St Ambrose's church at Milan (and in other instances), we find that it was the lectors who did the singing.

In these episcopal schools the teaching depended on the learning of the bishop, or after the seventh century his deputy, the magister scholarum, scholasticus, or capischola. Latin and the computus were taught as necessary for ecclesiastical equipment, but the seven liberal arts were not usually so taught before the Carolingian renaissance. Paganism was still too real a danger in Italy for ecclesiastics, even those who like Gregory the Great had been taught in rhetoric schools themselves, to wish that classical learning should be sought for its own sake by clerks; hence Ireland, where Roman paganism had never been a danger, became for a time the nursery of classical scholarship. The Irish schools, however, were rather monastic than episcopal. The teaching of Hadrian and Theodore at Canterbury included the liberal arts and the study of Roman Law; but this far surpassed the teaching given in an average episcopal household between 529 and 800. Grammar masters were hard to obtain, as is shown by the story told of Bishop Aitherius of Lisieux by Gregory of Tours. Aitherius rescued from prison, he says, a clerk, from the city of Sens, of extremely bad character. But the clerk “professed himself to be a doctor of letters, and promised the priest that, if he would commend the children to him, he would make them perfect in letters”. Aitherius already had a “praeceptor”, presumably for his household lectors, but he at once “rejoiced, and collected the children of the city, and commended them to him to teach”. The clerk was presented with a vineyard by way of salary, and invited to the homes of the boys he taught. He tried to seduce one of the mothers, and complaints were made; but the bishop could not believe evil of a man so learned, and dismissed them. The wicked clerk then tried to induce the archdeacon to conspire to murder the bishop, and, failing, crept after the bishop, who was walking in a wood, with an axe. The bishop, however, turned and saw him; whereat he explained that the archdeacon had hired him to murder his benefactor, but that he had never intended to do the deed. The good bishop believed him, wept, and made him promise silence. Aitherius then returned to his house for supper, and afterwards "he rested upon his couch, having around his bed the many little beds of his clerks". The clerk approached in the night and raised an alarm, saying that he had seen a woman coming from the bishop; but the slander was apparent to all, for the bishop was over seventy, and was sleeping surrounded by his clerks. Aitherius’ eyes were opened, and he got rid of him.

Early Frankish schools

The lives of pre-Carolingian bishops and abbots refer frequently to these household schools, and show that pupils were also taken for training by other priests; though in some cases the priest was probably, though it is not directly stated, the scholasticus of a bishop. Thus St Lomer (ob. 590), born of noble parents near Chartres, was confided by them to live with a priest Chirmirus and be imbued with sacred letters. Chirmirus, who was also the master of another Chartrain priest, Lancegesil, lived within the city of Chartres, “Domino militans”: a member, that is, of the “clerical militia” or bishop’s household, and probably his deputy in training the young lectors. St Rigomer was thus “trained from infancy by a certain religious priest”; many others, like Gregory of Tours, were thus “nutriti” by some bishop. St Germain de Granval (ob. 667) was delivered as an “infantulus” to Bishop Modoald of Tours; St Leger, Bishop of Autun, was confided to the Bishop of Poitiers and was “strenue enutritus”. Acca was “nutritus atque eruditus” by Archbishop Bosa, the predecessor of John of Beverley at York; Headda (ob. 790) left a bequest to the cathedral of Worcester.

Even when, after the Frankish settlements in Gaul and during the fighting of the early Merovingian kings, the practice of the communal life of bishops with their households was relaxed, the familia still lived normally near the cathedra, and in the society of the bishop. The Council of Tours in 567 wrote: “Let the bishop have his wife as his sister, and so let him govern all his house, both his ecclesiastical and his own house, in holy conversation, that no suspicion... arise. And although by God’s help he shall live chastely by the testimony of his clerks, because they dwell with him both in his cella and wherever he is, and thus the priests and deacons, or at least the crowd of young clerks, keep him safe: yet nevertheless, for zeal to God, let them be divided and sufficiently distant from his mansio, that those who are being nomished in the hope of being received into the clerical servitude be not polluted by the near contagion of the women”. When the reform of the Frankish Church was in progress under the influence of Boniface, the chief instrument of reform was the rule drawn up by Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz, in 754, to ensure a return to communal life on the part of the bishop and his familia. His own edition of the rule has no reference to the cathedral school, though young clerks were no doubt in his day received for training.

Early monastic schools

Monastic schools before the Carolingian renaissance were internal schools, and dealt almost solely with the training of oblate children, who might be received from seven years old, or even younger, like the young lectors in bishops' households. The children of princes and nobles were received for training by abbots both Benedictine and Celtic, but naturally not in large numbers; they would seem to have been received rather as pages into the abbots' households than strictly into the monastic school, though they were no doubt taught letters. In addition, where missionary houses, Benedictine or Celtic, occupied the whole ground, two other needs seem to have been met: that of teaching the outside peasantry the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments by heart, and that of training internally boys for the clerical militia. The latter would only have been taught reading, writing, singing, and Latin. The monastic schools were intended for monks, and the great monastic schools, mainly post-Carolingian, were for adult monks; the practice of receiving monks from other monasteries, sent to complete their studies, was common. The greatest service to general education which the monks rendered was that of supplying learned monks who, as bishops, were competent to teach the young clerks of their household. Educational activities which had been partial and sporadic before Charlemagne became normal or compulsory through the renaissance he inspired. The personal curiosity for learning, which made him attract learned clerks to his court, had immediate effects on the palace school, and on episcopal and monastic schools. He collected from Italy, at one time and another, Peter of Pisa, Paul the Deacon, Leidrad, probably Theodulf the Visigoth, and cantors from the Roman school, to teach the cathedral schools of Metz and Soissons; from England and Ireland he obtained Alcuin, the pupil of Aethelbert and the school of York, and some of his English students, and later Clement the Scot. The court became an "academia," where Charles himself learned classics from Peter of Pisa and the liberal arts from Alcuin—by way of question and answer. In this scholarly circle, Frankish names were too dull; Charles became “king David”,' Alcuin “Flaccus” (Horace), Theodulf “Pindar”, Angilbert “Homer”, Arno of Salzburg “Aquila”, Eppin the cup-bearer “Nehemiah”, and Charles’ daughters “Lucia” and “Columba”.

The palace school, to be distinguished from this “academia” of courtiers, had dated back to the days of St Leger (ob. 678), but not as a school where the liberal arts were taught. It had consisted of the young clerks under the archchaplain, and the sons of the nobility in training as pages and squires; young children do not seem to have been received, for the school was, like the court, ambulatory, and there are references to several “adolescentuli” who attended it after receiving training elsewhere. It is significant that Pepin the Short, by whom so many of the Carolingian reforms were begun, was educated, not in the palace school, but in the monastery of St Denis. In Charles' own time, when Peter of Pisa and Alcuin taught the school, the majority of boys and youths who attended it would seem to have been clerks, the future bishops and abbots of the kingdom, and to these the old classical education of the liberal arts was again afforded; but the point of great interest about the school is that some young lay nobles, like Einhard the historian, also received similar instruction, and this was a new departure. Bishop Wilfrid of York had received young nobles to train either as clerks or squires, according to their own wish when they were old enough to decide; but it was the greatness and magnificence of his household, his “innumerus sodalium exercitus” which procured his banishment. His successor, John of Beverley, also had young laymen in his train when travelling, and apparently living with him “in clero”; but if the tonsure was not yet given separately from a minor order in England, they may have been probationers for such orders. Certainly, the Carolingian palace school was the first to give classical (as distinct from religious) teaching to lay boys in any number, a feature in which it was copied by Alfred's palace school later. The account of Charlemagne's visit to his scholars, after they had been left behind for a time in Gaul under Clement the Scot, during one of his campaigns, would seem to show that even his scholars were mainly clerks; for he rebuked the idle, and promised to the industrious "bishoprics and abbeys"—not lay offices. The sort of instruction conferred on the lay boys may have been of the nature of the “proposition” found in a manuscript contemporary with Alcuin and headed “Ad acuendos iuvenes”. A certain man had a herd of 100 pigs, it begins; he wished to have them slaughtered in equal numbers on three days; how many should he have slaughtered each day? When time has been given for meditation, the “magister” should say, “quasi increpando iuvenes”, “Now this is a fable and it can be solved by nobody."

From the accession of Charlemagne till c. 1170 episcopal schools were the most important organ of education, and were frequent subjects of legislation; after c. 1170 the universities, which grew out of them, replaced them as centres of the teaching of the liberal arts; though they, with the grammar schools of the diocese, continued to teach grammar and rhetoric to schoolboys, and theology to the greater part of the diocesan clergy. Monastic schools from about 800 to 1000 probably produced greater scholars, but these were monks who gave their whole lives to scholarship. From c. 1000 to c. 1170 the cathedral schools — Tours, Orleans, Utrecht, Liege, Rheims, Chartres, Paris — eclipsed the monastic schools even in the production of scholars; during this period they were the international centres of adult scholarship, as well as training-schools for the diocesan clergy.


Charlemagne's capitulary of 787, addressed to the Abbot of Fulda, ordered that in all the monasteries and bishops' houses under his rule there should be study, “litterarum raeditationes”, and “those who can shall teach”, for grammar and rhetoric were indispensable for understanding the figures of scripture. In 789 he issued another more precise: “Let the ministers of God’s altar... collect and associate with themselves (i.e. maintain in their houses) children, not only of servile condition but also free-born (ingenui)”. Some bishops are known to have redeemed slaves for this purpose. “And that there may be schools of reading-boys (i.e. lectors), let them learn psalms, notes, chants, the computus, and grammar in each monastery and bishop’s house”. In these internal schools bishops were to train young clerks, and abbots were to train monks. The capitulary of 805 referred to such schools and ordered that all should learn truly about the computus, that children should be sent to learn the art of medicine (presumably, boarded in some school in South Italy), and that the Roman chant, as used at Metz, should be followed. Alcuin, exhausted with the perambulations of the court, retired in 796 to teach the liberal arts to the canons of the cathedral monastery of St Martin of Tours, and to such scholars as resorted to him. He wrote in that year to Eanbald of York about the conduct of his familia, advising that his clerks should be separated according to their occupation, reading, the chant, or writing, and that a master should be provided for each “order”. Possibly the scholastic classes coincided with the reception of some minor order, as a comparison with the clerks of Milan suggests; or perhaps the use of the word is merely accidental. Alcuin wrote to Arno, later Archbishop of Salzburg, in 799, advising that he and his suffragans should have scholars, and make them diligently learn psalms and church melodies, that the daily course of the praises of God might be performed in each (mother) church; and to another bishop in Germany, advising him to hasten home and set in order the boys' lessons: who should learn grammar, who read epistles and small books, and who Holy Scripture.

Theodulf of Orleans

Bishop Theodulf of Orleans carried the provision for education within his diocese a stage further. "If any priest wishes to send his nephew or his relation to school in the (cathedral) church of Ste Croix, or in the monastery of St Aignan, or St Benoit, or St Liphard, or in other of the monastic communities which it is granted us to govern: we give him leave to do this". The concession is here financial: the cathedral school shall receive their relations for nothing (and board them, probably); and the bishop will see that abbots also receive, board, and teach them for nothing, as oblates, or possibly as candidates for the secular clergy also. The next canon probably refers to the teaching of day scholars : “Let priests in towns and villages have schools, and if any of the faithful wishes to commend his little ones to them to learn letters, they ought to receive them... and teach them with the greatest affection — They shall demand nothing in this matter by way of price, nor shall they receive anything from them, except what the parents... shall bestow upon them voluntarily”. This canon shows the high-water mark of Carolingian advance, and shows the ideal of one of the greatest scholars of Charles’ court—of one also acquainted with conditions in Italy, where grammar masters were fairly plentiful. The whole set of canons are rather counsels of perfection than ecclesiastical laws; the laity were equally canonically bound to say their prayers at least twice a day, and priests to confess their sins with groans and tears, reciting the fifty-first psalm, once or twice a day, or as much oftener as possible. Theodulf was at one time Abbot of St Benoit (Fleury), and energetic in the reform movement connected with St Benedict of Aniane, and hence his capitulary was read and copied by monastic reformers. Dunstan and the English reformers were closely in touch with Fleury, and this probably explains the presence of different parts of the capitulary in two English manuscripts, both in Latin with English translations. The part of the capitulary dealing with schools occurs in a manuscript following some “statute” collected by Abbot Aelfric of Evnsham; but there is no evidence that it was ever “lecta et publicata” in any English synod, or even that the translator was Aelfric. Another copy in a monastery at Ghent attributed it explicitly, but certainly wrongly, to the Council of Constantinople, 680, causing confusion to later writers. The canon about schools is not drawn from any Eastern council, but was Theodulf’s own work.

Charlemagne’s capitularies were not universally obeyed. In 813 the Council of Chalon reiterated that schools must be set up; and in 817 the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle dealt with both monastic and cathedral schools. In monasteries there were to be schools only of oblates; a few, like Fulda and St Gall, continued for a time to have “scholae exteriores seu canonicae” for training secular clerks. Chrodegang’s rule, revised and enlarged by some chapters, was to be observed, as the “regula Aquisgranensis”, by all the cathedrals of the Empire. A chapter of the rule regulated the provisions for the cathedral school. As earlier, it was to be an internal school, in which the young clerks were maintained by the chapter; the boys slept and worked together, in charge of an aged and discreet canon, though they might have a younger one to teach them. The rule was influential in reforms earned out by Dunstan in England and was formally adopted by Leofric of Exeter c. 1050. The chapter describing the school must be taken as descriptive of the normal cathedral school in the Carolingian Empire from this time forward, apart from evidence to the contrary in particular cases, and till the communal life of chapters lapsed. Alcuin's teaching at Tours made the school so famous that conditions were perhaps abnormal there in his day. External scholars, boarding in the town, may have been taught by him; certainly in 843 Amalric, canon and scholasticus, left a bequest to the future preceptors in the school, to prevent the abominable custom, which had sprung up in his predecessors’ day, of taking a price for instruction, “as from any other worldly business”. Whether the endowment was to recompense the preceptors for renouncing the fees of external scholars, or to enable them to board these scholars gratis in their house, is not clear. There was certainly an internal and an external school at Rheims later; and, from about 900 onwards, the general practice of the cathedrals seems to have been for the chapter to maintain a number of “clericuli”, while others were taken into the school as a private bargain with their relatives, and yet others were boarded by individual canons, who made a special bargain with relatives for “introducing them into the clerical order”. Generally speaking, and theoretically, no fees, or very small fees, were charged for teaching only in the cathedral grammar or theology school, the masters being maintained by the chapter; but unless they had a prebend the maintenance was sometimes insufficient, and practice varied.

The ninth century brought difficulties to the schools. Louis the Pious, in 822, desired that schools should be amended: the parents or lords of scholars (no longer, significantly, the bishop) must help to provide for them; if the diocese (parochia) were very large, two or three places of study must be founded. The Council of Paris, in 824, ordered each bishop to show more zeal to have a school to educate the militia of Christ; to encourage this, let each bishop bring his scholasticus to the provincial council. In 824 Lothar, as co-regent with his father, ordered that, since instruction was lacking in Italy, schools of “doctrina” should be maintained in certain towns, which he specified. In 826 Pope Eugenius II enacted that, since in some places there were neither masters nor care for the study of letters, each bishopric, and other places where there was need, should have masters and doctors to teach letters and the “dogmas of the liberal arts”. The Council of Paris, in 829, repeated the provisions of 822, and the bishops petitioned the Emperor Louis that, lest his father’s work should be lost, three “public schools” should be set up in his Empire; which three schools of Charlemagne they referred to is not clear, though a subsequent canon shows that they were including Italy in the Empire. The Council of Meaux, in 845, declared all the capitularies of Charles and Louis the Pious to be still in force, and ordered all bishops to build a cloister near their church for the regular training of their clerks (as Eugenius II had also ordered in 826). In 852 Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims enjoined in a synod that answers should be made to certain questions, to be propounded by the magister and the dean “in each mother-church, and in each chapel of our parochia (archbishopric)”; among others: “Had the priest a clerk who could keep school, or read the epistle and sing, according as was necessary”—the one, probably, in a mother-church (ecclesia), the other in a chapel (capella). This provision was perhaps due to a clause in the homilies of the contemporary Pope Leo IV that “each priest should have a scholar clerk, who could read the epistle or lesson and respond at mass, and with whom he could sing psalms”. The same Pope, in 853, practically repealed Eugenius' canon about the schools of liberal arts, by acknowledging that grammar masters were scarce, and ordering that, in lack of them, masters of divine scriptures and teachers of the office should be provided.

The ravages of the Northmen and internecine wars had half consumed learning by the mid-century, and the Council of Valence, summoned in 855 for the provinces of Lyons, Vienne, and Arles, could only order that “something should be discussed, and if possible decreed and ordained, about schools both of divine and secular literature and church chant, since, from the long intermission of this study, ignorance of the faith and of all knowledge has overtaken many bishoprics”. Archbishop Herard of Tours, in 858, ordered that “priests should have schools as much as they can, and corrected books”; and Bishop Walter of Orleans in the same year interpreted this by enacting that “every priest must have a clerk, whom he must have religiously educated; and, if it is possible for him, he must have a school in his church, and wisely take heed that those whom he receives to teach he may chastely and sincerely nourish”. This seems an interesting attempt to extend the system of training lectors from episcopal and collegiate churches to those of single priests; each priest must train or have trained one clerk (the ancestor, of course, of the later parish clerk), and, if it be possible, let him nourish more. In 859 the Council of Savonnières urged that “scholae publicae” (apparently implying, at the date, royally endowed schools) should be set up, so that fruit both of divine and human learning might accrue to the Church.

After these enactments, however, the schools gradually recovered and became flourishing; the records of individual cathedrals indicate greater prosperity and scholarship. Bishop Ratherius of Verona in 966 decreed that he would in future promote no ordinands who had not lived in his own city, or in some monastery, and to some extent learned letters. The clause about private teaching is characteristic of Italian conditions; north of the Alps ordinands would have attached themselves to some cathedral school (unless ordained without preparation in deference to the wish of some layman). Gregory VII in 1078 ordered that “all bishops were to have the arts of letters taught in their churches”, i.e. not merely “divine learning” but secular. The growth of the schools is marked by increase of masters. Fulbert (ob. 1028), the scholar-Bishop of Chartres, who raised the schools to the pitch of fame, gave Hildegaire both the birch of the grammaticus and the tablets of the chancellor as symbols of authority; in addition, Hildegaire held the position of sub-dean. Fluctuations still occurred at Chartres between the work and functions of the chancellor, vice-chancellor, and grammaticus; but by c. 1150 the chancellor as such had a prebend, taught only theology, and had under him a scholasticus now usually termed the “magister scholarum”. The latter had no prebend as such, but was some- times a canon; in any case, he received the usual distributions of food and money for attendance at offices. Development at other cathedrals "was roughly parallel, the magister scholarum of the earlier centuries becoming the chancellor in the twelfth century, and teaching only theology, with a grammar master under him. In all dioceses other grammar schools were now fairly frequent, the right of teaching, however, remaining a strict monopoly, guarded by the chancellor of the diocese. After the rise of the universities (c. 1170), the best scholars were drawn away from the cathedral schools as such, and the teaching of the liberal arts in these dwindled to the teaching of grammar and rhetoric.

The decline of diocesan teaching roused the anxiety of the Church. In the lesser cathedrals there was difficulty even in obtaining a grammar master, since no benefice was provided for him, and there was more lucrative employment elsewhere. The Third Lateran Council, in 1179, ordered that a competent benefice should be given in every cathedral to a master, who should teach the clerks of the church and poor scholars for nothing; nor was the ecclesiastical authority to charge for the license to teach, nor deny it to any suitable candidate. The Fourth Lateran Council, in 1215, asserted that this provision had remained widely unfulfilled; it ordered each cathedral church, and other (collegiate) churches which had the means, to provide a prebend for a grammar master, and each metropolitan church one for a theology master. The provisions still remained largely unfulfilled, the difficulty being to get the chapter to give up a prebend for the purpose, especially as so many prebends were anticipated by papal provision. The friars, however, set up in this century their own hierarchy of schools, in some of which the presence of seculars was allowed. St Thomas Aquinas wrote in 1257 that the decree for the provision of a theology master in each metropolitan church had not been observed through lack of letters, but now it had been more than fulfilled by the religious.

External monastic schools

The monastic schools saw their two most flourishing centuries after the Carolingian renaissance. The external schools about which most is known were those of Fulda, St Gall, and Bec. Raban Maur of Fulda was sent by his abbot to study under Alcuin at Tours, and was afterwards given the direction of the monks' school at Fulda, with orders to preserve Alcuin's method of teaching. He then ruled both schools (for oblates and clerks) "with piety and doctrine", and appointed two masters to teach under him. The schools of St Gall were famous in the ninth century, when Notker the Stammerer and other scholars were trained there. “The cloister school with blessed Notker and other children of the monastic habit was handed over to Marcellus, and the external school, that is the canonical school, to Iso”. In 937 one of the scholars of this school started a serious fire in the monastery, to save himself a beating. The external school started at Bec by Lanfranc was somewhat of a new departure; it was not maintained to fill the place of a non-existent canonical, or cathedral, school, but to aid the poverty of the newly-founded house with fees; it was, in fact, a continuation of Lanfranc’s work as a private rhetoric teacher in Italy. On the other hand, when St William of Dijon (ob. 1031) was called by Duke Richard to Normandy to introduce the Cluniac reforms, he substituted monks for clerks in the abbey of Fécamps, and started an external school there of the old, canonical type. “For when he saw that knowledge of singing and reading among the rural clerks was... almost perished, not only in that place but throughout the whole province... he founded a school of the sacred ministry where the brothers skilled in this office taught freely, for the love of God”.

The teaching of laymen in this period has been passed over, for there were no schools for laymen as such, even the little A. B.C. schools being mainly intended to teach “song” to little clerks. The sons of the nobility were more frequently taught reading, writing, and such Latin as they were considered to need, by their father's chaplain, or the chaplain of the lay noble, bishop, or abbot to whom they were sent for “nurture”. Learned laywomen were similarly taught, though the nunneries, being poorer than the men’s houses, more often received little “prebendinants” (boarders), boys as well as girls, for education. But as a rule the teaching of laymen and laywomen before 1300 was individuals.