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Life in the Medieval University

Robert S. Rait

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Archdeacon, who came to be described as the Chancellor and Head of the Studium. "Graduation," in Dr Rashdall's words, "ceased to imply the mere admission into a private Society of teachers, and bestowed a definite legal status in the eyes of Church and State alike.... The Universities passed from merely local into ecumenical organisations; the Doctorate became an order of intellectual nobility with as distinct and definite a place in the hierarchical system of medieval Christendom as the Priesthood or the Knighthood." The Archdeacon of Bologna, even when he was regarded as the Chancellor, did not wrest from the college of doctors the right to decide who should be deemed worthy of a title which Cardinals were pleased to possess. The licence which he required before admitting a student to the doctorate continued to be conferred by the Bologna doctors after due examination.

We will assume that our English student has now completed his course of study. He has duly a. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Pros: Very good description of where a lot of traditions come from as well as what the students and villages went through living together at this time. It goes into a lot about the hazing at the times, the general studies, how draconic the rules were on doing anything and the punishments inflicted.


This was interesting to see the life and rules associated with being a collegiate back then. I wish the author spent more time on the 7 liberal arts, but it was good enough for a brief history book. I also wish he had translated all of the Latin phrases used because I don't know the language and had

A bit bare in some parts and too much Latin intermingled with the book.

A good overview, though I was disappointed that I didn't see any mention of the effect of the Black Plague on universities.

I was hoping for greater coverage of the curriculum, but this was still a good read. The first section, which focuses on the University of Bologna, is the best. Perhaps part of this is due to Bologna's structure - it was student-run, and organizationally feels very odd to anyone modern familiar with