Skip to main content Accessibility help

English Learning in the Late Twelfth Century1

  • R. W. Hunt


The title of this paper may raise false hopes in the minds of many; and it will be well to explain what has been attempted. English writers of the later twelfth century have on the whole been neglected; and when I was investigating the life and works of Alexander Nequam, it was necessary, in order to keep a sense of proportion, to try to learn something about the schools of the time, and to look at the work of some of his contemporaries. One or two things of interest have come to light, which I have tried to set out here. But the picture is far from complete. Nothing, for example, is said about legal studies.



Hide All

page 20 note 1 De artificioso modo predicandi, Serm. 2, Cambridge, Univ. Libr., Ii. I, 24, s. XIII, f. I73vb-I74ra: Tempus quo puer eram scolaris pauci erant in terra ista fontes tales; uix aliqui inueniebantur magistri, quorum non esset intentio ambitiosa, lectio institoria, lingua uenalis. Sed multi sunt nunc, dei gratia, qui gratis docent. Multi sunt fontes saluatoris qui omnibus haurire uolentibus semper patent. Fere unaqueque ciuitas huiusmodi fontem habet, Norhamptona magistrum … Oxonia magistrum Philippum, Exonia magistrum Iohannem, et sic alie alios. The first part of this tract without the sermons is in Oxford, Magdalen Coll. 168, s. SIII, f. 128V, there ascribed to magister Willelmus Ruffus. Extracts from the sermons in it are anon, in Cambridge, Trinity Coll. R. 14, 40(912), s. XIII, pp. 48a-49b, but this passage is omitted. Alexander was prior “in the reign of John,” V.C.H. Northants, II, p. 133. He is found as papal judge-delegate at Oxford 1197-1201, Oseney Cartulary, ed. Salter, O.H.S., XCVII, IV. p. 62.

page 20 note 2 Dr. Salter has kindly informed me that the only master Philip is the vice-archdeacon, found c. 1174-5, Oseney Cartulary, II, p. 224I

page 20 note 3 Eynsham Cartulary, ed. Salter, O.H.S., LI, II, pp. 45-7. They are acting as delegates of Hubert Walter.

page 21 note 1 Hist. MSS. Comm., MSS. of the Duke of Rutland, IV, p. 82. The meaning of such terms is ill-defined. Cf. Alexander Nequam, super Cant. Cant. VI, 20, B.M. Royal 4 D XI, f. 1g6vb: Theologi rectores scolarum locum jstum (i.e. Cant. 8. 7) sic explanauere: Aque multe non poterunt extinguere caritatem de facili.

page 21 note 2 De gestis, III, 3, Opp. ed. Brewer, R.S., I, p. 93.

page 21 note 3 On him see G. Lacombe, New Scholasticism, 5, 1931, 141 f., 148-50.

page 21 note 4 Cambridge, C.C.C. 186 f. 21r; London, B.M. Adds. 16164, f. 15r.

page 22 note 1 S. H. Thomson thinks that the De anima is an early work, New Scholasticism, 7, 1933, 202-21. G. Englhardt, Die Entwicklung der dogmat. Glaubenspsychologie, Beiträge z. Gesch. der Philosophie des Mittlealters, XXX, 4-6, p. 220 f, thinks it is based in part on the Summa de bono of Philip the Chancellor.

page 22 note 2 Johannes de Garlandia, De triumphis eccl., ed. Wright, p. 53 f, cited by Paetow, L. J., Morale scolarium of John of Garland, p. 83. This probably refers to a period immediately before the strike of 1209-14. Cf. Rashdall's Medieval Universities, ed. Powicke and Emden, III, p. 50n.

page 22 note 3 J. C. Russell, Shorter Latin Poems of Henry of Avranches, Medieval Acad. of America, Studies and docs. 1, Cambridge, 1935, p. 131; lines ff: Primus Aristotilis satagens perquirere libros, Quando recenter eos Arabes misere Latinis, Quos numquam fertur legisse celebrius alter, Aut prius, ut perhibent Oxonia Parisiusque. Henry says that John taught theology for twelve years after this, so that his teaching of the Arts must be earlier than 1220. P. Glorieux, Répertoire des maitres en thiologie, I, 302 f. and Tables puts his teaching at Paris 1218 ?-23 ? and 1223-26. He says he went to Oxford in 1229.

page 23 note 1 Studies in the History of Medieval Science, Cambridge, 1927.

page 23 note 2 Ibid., p. 125. J. C. Russell, Isis, 18, 1932, 15, has found him as a witness in a Hereford charter as late as 1195.

page 23 note 3 Cambridge, C.C.C., 400, p. 119, G. Cambrensis, poem XLII, ed. Brewer, Opp. I, p. 382 f. The date of the poem is c. 1195-7. The description of the subjects taught is not in Brewer's text and will be found in Appendix I. It is an addition of 32 lines after line 36. Its genuineness is supported by the excellence of the manuscript, on which see Dimock, Opp. V. p. xiv, Butler, H. E., Medium Aevum IV, 1935, 143 a n d the description in the Catalogue by M. R. James. Father Ziegler tells me it is much the earliest reference to geomancy in England.

page 24 note 1 See the preface to the Philosophia, most of which is in O.H.S. Collectanea, II, 169 f. The whole work was printed by K. Sudhoff in Archiv. fülr die Gesch. der Naturwissenschaften, VIII, 6-40, from B.M. Arundel, 377. Cf. M. Müller, “Die Stellung des Daniel von Morley,” Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 1928, 301–37.

page 24 note 2 This word is omitted in Sudhoff's text. It was restored by A. Birkenmajer, ibid., IX, 47, from Berlin lat. qu. 387.

page 24 note 3 A. Birkenmajer, Le role joué par Us médecins et les naturalistes dans la réception d' Aristote au xiie et xiiie siécles (Extrait de la Pologne au VIe Congres international des sciences hist., Oslo, 1928), Warsaw, 1930, P. 3 f.

page 24 note 4 Russell, Isis, loc. cit. 22 f. It is odd that he is never called magister in the record sources. In the preface to the Philosophia he does call the Bishop of Norwich dominum meum ac patrem spiritualem.

page 24 note 5 Baeumker, C., Die Stellung des Alfred von Sareshel, Bayerische Akad. Sitz. Ber., Phil. hist. Kl., Abh. 9, 1913.Lacombe, G.,Aus der Geisteswelt des Mittelalters, Beiträge, Suppl. Bd. III, 1, pp. 463–71. He quotes a passage in which Alfred names his master, Solomon Avenroza.

page 25 note 1 Haskins, op. cit., p. 129.

page 25 note 2 In his valuable paper cit. supr. p. 24, Birkenmajer called attention (p. 5) to the occurrence of Urso's name in Laus sap. div. (IV, 235, ed. Wright, R.S., p. 425).

page 25 note 3 Vaux, R. de, Notes et textes sur I'Avicennisme latin, Bibl. Thomiste, XX, Paris, 1934.

page 26 note 1 Vaux, R. de, Notes et textes sur VAvicennisme latin, XX, Bibl. Thomiste, XX, p. 138.

page 26 note 2 Spec. eccl. proem., ed. Brewer, Opp. IV, p. 10 (written c. 1220): super librum Aristotilis quendam de Anima intitulatum. This preface is not in the printed edition of Avicenna's works. It was first published by Jourdain, A., Recherches sur les anciennes traductions d'Aristote, Paris, 1843, p. 449, and has been printed several times since.

page 26 note 3 de Garlandia, J., De triumph, eccl., p. 54.

page 27 note 1 G. Cambrensis, De gestis, II, 20, Opp. I, p. 79. Cf. Stubbs, Epp. Cantuarienses, R.S., pp. xxxvi, 230.

page 27 note 2 See the poem of which part is printed by Faral, E., Les arts poétiques du xiie et clu xiiie stécle, Paris, 1924, p. 17. A couplet is in the Summa de col. rhet., ibid., p. 323.

page 27 note 3 Faral, op. cit., pp. 34-7- He is found as a witness to two charters at St. Paul's; A 17/261 (W.D. 1, f. 2iv), a grant by Godfrey de Lucy to Geoffrey de Lucy, dean of St. Paul's and the chapter, 1229-41; and A 32/608, a grant by Peter son of William son of Alulf to G. de Lucy, dean of St. Paul's, 1229-31. For these references I am indebted to Miss M. Gibbs.

page 28 note 1 Gesta Abbatum, ed. Riley, R.S., I, pp. 194–6.

page 28 note 2 Ibid., p. 217.

page 28 note 3 Chron. abb. Evesham, ed. Macray, R.S., pp. 232, 267.

page 28 note 4 Ibid., p. 147.

page 28 note 5 Memorials of St. Edmund's Abbey, ed. Arnold, R.S., I, p. 323.

page 28 note 6 De artif. modo pred., prol., Cambridge Univ. Libr. II, 1, 24, f. 166v.

page 29 note 1 Breuissima comprehensio historiarum uet. et nou. test., prol., York Cath. XVI. Q. 14, s. XIII, f. 56rb, The work is anon, with only a short piece from the end of the prol. in B.M. Royal 6 B. XI, ff. 54V-61, s. XIV in.

page 29 note 2 On him see Turner, C. H., Early Worcester MSS., Oxford, 1916, App. II.

page 29 note 3 Holland, O.H.S. Collectanea, II, p. 181 f. Holland doubted whether Oxford was referred to. But see Salter's note on the Vision of the Monk of Eynsham c. XXVI, Eynsham Cartulary, O.H.S., LI, II, p. 325 f.

page 30 note 1 Holland, O.H.S., op. cit., p. 182.

page 30 note 2 Gesch. der schol. Methode, Freiburg, 1911, II, p. 510.

page 30 note 3 The suggestion of R. R. Darlington that he made the abbreviation of the life of St. Wulfstan (Vita Wulfstani, Camden 3rd Ser. 1928, p. xxi) is supported by a letter to Roger, Bishop of Worcester in Bodl. 633 (1966), f. 197V: Uitam quoque beatorum pontificum OSWALDI et WLSTANI etsi non quo decuit, quo tamen potui, stilo descripsi.

page 30 note 4 Holland, op. cit., p. 180.

page 31 note 1 Wilmart, A., Méanges Mandonnet, Bibl. Thomiste, xiv, Paris, 1930, II, p.161.

page 31 note 2 On him see Haskins, op. cit., pp. 169-71.

page 31 note 3 De connubio, II, 22, Bodl. Laud. misc. 725, s. XII, f. 129va (immediately after the passage cit. below): Non enim imrideo monachis scribentibus, sed congaudeo, licet non sim monachus, sed indignissimus canonicorum ecclesie sancte dei genitricis Marie sub disciplina sancti et uenerabilis S(erlonis) primi eiusdem loci abbatis pro remissione peccatorum suorum deo supplicantium. Serlonis is written out in full in Hereford Cath. P. 4, viii. He was abbot 1131-47. Therefore the work must be dated 1131- c. 1140, which removes the foundation from Haskins' argument that he is Roboratus. The preface is in Holland, op. cit., p. 161 f. Hereford, P. 4, viii, adds Winchelcumbensi after Laurentio monacho and Geruasio et Achardo after sanctis fratribus.

page 32 note 1 Loc. cit. Nam et que in manus nostras uenerunt scripta uenerabilis abbatis Clarisuallensis legi; et uiri summe eruditionis Guillelmi Meldunensis ecclesie monachi et cantoris preclarum opus quod super Lamentationes Ieremie compilauit non tantum legi, uerum ut et in nostra ecclesia scriptum haberetur exegi. Legi et libellum eius de miraculis beatissime dei genitricis et perpetue uirginis Marie, qui et in nostra ecclesia habetur. Quid dicam super deflorationibus eius ex opusculis beatissimi pape Gregorii ? In quibus ita uiolentus procedit eradicator uitiorum et diligens edificator uirtutum, ut in eo quodammodo uideatur impleri quod scriptum est: Ecce constitui te super gentes et regna ut euellas et destruas et edifices et plantes. Alia eius opuscula nondum legi, sed legam, si deo placuerit et et uite mee spatium protelauerit. William of Malmesbury's excerpts from Gregory escaped Stubbs. They are in Cambridge Univ. Libr., Ii. 3, 20, mentioned by James, M. R., Two Ancient English Scholars, Glasgow, 1931, p. 19.

page 32 note 2 Spec, fidei, III, 5, Cambridge, C.C.C. 380, f. 62V. The text of the whole chapter will be found in Appendix II. The date of the incident is before the death of Peter Lombard in 1160. Possibly the occasion was Robert's visit to Rome in 1158. He made other journeys there in 1141 (not quite certainly) and in 1151. The passage shows that Robert of Melun did return to Paris, as R. M. Martin suggests (Œuvres de Robert de Melun I, Spicil. sacr. Lovaniense 13, Louvain 1932, p. ix). The Robert archdeacon of Oxford, mentioned by Martin, p. x, was Robert Foliot. The Speculum fidei is dedicated to a layman, Robert, earl of Leicester. A copy of it is in the catalogue of the library of the Abbey of Lyre (Cat. gen. des MSS., Departements, II, p. 381, referred to by Manitius, Gesch., III, pp. 24m.) of which the Earls of Leicester were patrons.

page 33 note 1 Lambeth 51. The text is printed in the Catalogue. A translation was given by Coulton, G. G.,Social Life in Britain, Cambridge, 1919, pp. 218 ff.

page 33 note 2 Pt. I is in Oxford, Merton Coll. 191, B.M. Royal 6 E. VIII, 7 E. VIII; pts. II-III, in Merton 192, Royal 7 C. XIII, 7 F. IV; pt. IV in Lincoln Coll. lat. 83, Royal 7 C. XIV. There are other MSS.

page 33 note 3 Ralph is thanked for helping Peter to hire scribes to copy the work. Pt. I, prol. preter rem, Merton 191 f. 1vb: Michi et scribendi et transcribendi et scriptores conducendi non minus uoluptaria quam necessaria uelud Thimotheus Paulo aut Damasus Ieronimo liberaliter inpendis.

page 33 note 4 It is repeated in the prol. of pts. I, II-III and IV in almost identical terms. The text of the prol. of pt. I, which gives the clearest account of his aims, will be found in Appendix III.

page 33 note 5 Stephen was prior from 1170-97.

1 I have to thank Professor F. M. Powicke for criticisms and suggestions, and also Miss E. Rathbone and Mr. R. W. Southern.

English Learning in the Late Twelfth Century1

  • R. W. Hunt


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.