Chronicle and Romance (The Harvard Classics Series)
by Jean Froissart, Thomas Malory, Raphael Holinshed
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Every one of these colleges have in like manner their professors or readers of the tongues and several sciences, as they call them, which daily trade up the youth there abiding privately in their halls, to the end they may be able afterward (when their turn cometh about, which is after twelve terms) to shew themselves abroad, by going from thence into the common schools and public disputations (as it were "In aream") there to try their skill, and declare how they have profited since their coming thither.

Moreover, in the public schools of both the universities, there are found at the prince's charge (and that very largely) fine professors and readers, that is to say, of divinity, of the civil law, physic, the Hebrew and the Greek tongues. And for the other lectures, as of philosophy, logic, rhetoric, and the quadrivials (although the latter, I mean arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy, and with them all skill in the perspectives, are now smally regarded in either of them), the universities themselves do allow competent stipends to such as read the same, whereby they are sufficiently provided for, touching the maintenance of their estates, and no less encouraged to be diligent in their functions.

These professors in like sort have all the rule of disputations and other school exercises which are daily used in common schools severally assigned to each of them, and such of their hearers as by their skill shewed in the said disputations are thought to have attained to any convenient ripeness of knowledge according to the custom of other universities (although not in like order) are permitted solemnly to take their deserved degrees of school in the same science and faculty wherein they have spent their travel. From that time forward also they use such difference in apparel as becometh their callings, tendeth unto gravity, and maketh them known to be called to some countenance.

The first degree is that of the general sophisters, from whence, when they have learned more sufficiently the rules of logic, rhetoric, and obtained thereto competent skill in philosophy, and in the mathematicals, they ascend higher unto the estate of bachelors of art, after four years of their entrance into their sophistry. From thence also, giving their minds to more perfect knowledge in some or all the other liberal sciences and the tongues, they rise at the last (to wit, after other three or four years) to be called masters of art, each of them being at that time reputed for a doctor in his faculty, if he profess but one of the said sciences (besides philosophy), or for his general skill, if he be exercised in them all. After this they are permitted to choose what other of the higher studies them liketh to follow, whether it be divinity, law, or physic, so that, being once masters of art, the next degree, if they follow physic, is the doctorship belonging to that profession; and likewise in the study of the law, if they bend their minds to the knowledge of the same. But, if they mean to go forward with divinity, this is the order used in that profession. First, after they have necessarily proceeded masters of art, they preach one sermon to the people in English, and another to the university in Latin. They answer all comers also in their own persons unto two several questions of divinity in the open schools at one time for the space of two hours, and afterward reply twice against some other man upon a like number and on two several dates in the same place, which being done with commendation, he receiveth the fourth degree, that is, bachelor of divinity, but not before he has been master of arts by the space of seven years, according to their statutes.

The next, and last degree of all, is the doctorship, after other three years, for the which he must once again perform all such exercises and acts as are before remembered; and then is he reputed able to govern and teach others, and likewise taken for a doctor. I have read that John of Beverley was the first doctor that ever was in Oxford, as Beda was in Cambridge. But I suppose herein that the word "doctor" is not so strictly to be taken in this report as it is now used, since every teacher is in Latin called by that name, as also such in the primitive church as kept schools of catechists, wherein they were trained up in the rudiments and principles of religion, either before they were admitted unto baptism or any office in the Church.

Thus we see that from our entrance into the university unto the last degree received is commonly eighteen or twenty years, in which time, if a student has not obtained sufficient learning thereby to serve his own turn and benefit his commonwealth, let him never look by tarrying longer to come by any more. For after this time, and forty years of age, the most part of students do commonly give over their wonted diligence, and live like drone bees on the fat of colleges, withholding better wits from the possession of their places, and yet doing little good in their own vocation and calling. I could rehearse a number (if I listed) of this sort, as well in one university as the other. But this shall suffice instead of a large report, that long continuance in those places is either a sign of lack of friends, or of learning, or of good and upright life, as Bishop Fox[4] sometime noted, who thought it sacrilege for a man to tarry any longer at Oxford than he had a desire to profit.

[4] This Fox builded Corpus Christi College, in Oxford.—H.

A man may (if he will) begin his study with the law, or physic (of which this giveth wealth, the other honour), so soon as he cometh to the university, if his knowledge in the tongues and ripeness of judgment serve therefor: which if he do, then his first degree is bachelor of law, or physic; and for the same he must perform such acts in his own science as the bachelors or doctors of divinity do for their parts, the only sermons except, which belong not to his calling. Finally, this will I say, that the professors of either of those faculties come to such perfection in both universities as the best students beyond the sea do in their own or elsewhere. One thing only I mislike in them, and that is their usual going into Italy, from whence very few without special grace do return good men whatsoever they pretend of conference or practice, chiefly the physicians[5] who under pretence of seeking of foreign simples do oftentimes learn the framing of such compositions as were better unknown than practised, as I have heard often alleged, and therefore it is most true that Doctor Turner said: "Italy is not to be seen without a guide, that is, without special grace given from God, because of the licentious and corrupt behaviour of the people."

[5] So much also may be inferred of lawyers.—H.

There is moreover in every house a master or provost, who has under him a president and certain censors or deans, appointed to look to the behaviour and manners of the students there, whom they punish very severely if they make any default, according to the quantity and quality of their trespass. And these are the usual names of governors in Cambridge. Howbeit in Oxford the heads of houses are now and then called presidents in respect of such bishops as are their visitors and founders. In each of these also they have one or more treasurers, whom they call bursarios or bursars, beside other officers whose charge is to see unto the welfare and maintenance of these houses. Over each university also there is a several chancellor, whose offices are perpetual, howbeit their substitutes, whom we call vice-chancellors, are changed every year, as are also the proctors, taskers, masters of the streets, and other officers, for the better maintenance of their policy and estate.

And thus much at this time of our two universities, in each of which I have received such degree as they have vouchsafed—rather of their favour than my desert—to yield and bestow upon me, and unto whose students I wish one thing, the execution whereof cannot be prejudicial to any that meaneth well, as I am resolutely persuaded, and the case now standeth in these our days. When any benefice therefor becometh void it were good that the patron did signify the vacation thereof to the bishop, and the bishop the act of the patron to one of the universities, with request that the vice-chancellor with his assistants might provide some such able man to succeed in the place as should by their judgment be meet to take the charge upon him. Certainly if this order were taken, then should the church be provided of good pastors, by whom God should be glorified, the universities better stored, the simoniacal practices of a number of patrons utterly abolished, and the people better trained to live in obedience toward God and their prince, which were a happier estate.

To these two also we may in like sort add the third, which is at London (serving only for such as study the laws of the realm) where there are sundry famous houses, of which three are called by the name of Inns of the Court, the rest of the Chancery, and all built before time for the furtherance and commodity of such as apply their minds to our common laws. Out of these also come many scholars of great fame, whereof the most part have heretofore been brought up in one of the aforesaid universities, and prove such commonly as in process of time rise up (only through their profound skill) to great honour in the commonwealth of England. They have also degrees of learning among themselves, and rules of discipline, under which they live most civilly in their houses, albeit that the younger of them abroad in the streets are scarcely able to be bridled by any good order at all. Certainly this error was wont also greatly to reign in Cambridge and Oxford, between the students and the burgesses; but, as it is well left in these two places, so in foreign countries it cannot yet be suppressed.

Besides these universities, also there are great number of grammar schools throughout the realm, and those very liberally endowed, for the better relief of poor scholars, so that there are not many corporate towns now under the Queen's dominion that have not one grammar school at the least, with a sufficient living for a master and usher appointed to the same.

There are in like manner divers collegiate churches, as Windsor, Winchester, Eton, Westminster (in which I was some time an unprofitable grammarian under the reverend father Master Nowell, now dean of Paul's), and in those a great number of poor scholars, daily maintained by the liberality of the founders, with meat, books, and apparel, from whence, after they have been well entered in the knowledge of the Latin and Greek tongues, and rules of versifying (the trial whereof is made by certain apposers yearly appointed to examine them), they are sent to certain special houses in each university, where they are received and trained up in the points of higher knowledge in their private halls, till they be adjudged meet to shew their face's in the schools as I have said already.

And thus much have I thought good to note of our universities, and likewise of colleges in the same, whose names I will also set down here, with those of their founders, to the end the zeal which they bare unto learning may appear, and their remembrance never perish from among the wise and learned.


Years of the Foundation Colleges Founders

1546 1 Trinity College King Henry 8.

1441 2 The King's College King Henry 6, Edward 4, Henry 7, and Henry 8.

1511 3 St. John's Lady Margaret, grandmother to Henry 8.

1505 4 Christ's College King Henry 6 and the Lady Margaret aforesaid.

1446 5 The Queen's College Lady Margaret, wife to King Henry 6.

1496 6 Jesus College John Alcock, bishop of Ely.

1342 7 Bennet College The brethren of a Popish guild called Corporis Christi.

1343 8 Pembroke Hall Maria de Valentia, Countess of Pembroke.

1256 9 Peter College Hugh Balsham, bishop of Ely.

1348 10 Gundewill and Caius Edmund Gundevill, parson of 1557 College Terrington, and John Caius, doctor of physic.

1354 11 Trinity Hall William Bateman, bishop of Norwich.

1326 12 Clare Hall Richard Badow, chancellor of Cambridge.

1459 13 Catherine Hall Robert Woodlark, doctor of divinity.

1519 14 Magdalen College Edward, Duke of Buckingham, and Thomas, lord Audley.

1585 15 Emanuel College Sir Walter Mildmay, etc.


Years of the Foundation Colleges Founders

1539 1 Christ's Church King Henry 8.

1459 2 Magdalen College William Wainfleet, first fellow of Merton College, then scholar at Winchester, and afterwards bishop there.[6]

1375 3 New College William Wickham, bishop of Winchester.

1276 4 Merton College Walter Merton, bishop of Rochester.

1437 5 All Souls' College Henry Chicheley, archbishop of Canterbury.

1516 6 Corpus Christi College Richard Fox, bishop of Winchester.

1430 7 Lincoln College Richard Fleming, bishop of Lincoln.

1323 8 Auriel College Adam Broune, almoner to Edward 2.

1340 9 The Queen's College R. Eglesfeld, chaplain to Philip, queen of England, wife to Edward 3.

1263 10 Balliol College John Balliol, king of Scotland.

1557 11 St. John's Sir Thomas White, knight.

1556 12 Trinity College Sir Thomas Pope, knight.

1316 13 Excester College Walter Stapleten, bishop of Excester.

1513 14 Brasen Nose William Smith, bishop of Lincoln.

1873 15 University College William, archdeacon of Duresine.

16 Gloucester College John Crifford, who made it a cell for thirteen monks.

17 St. Mary's College

18 Jesus College, now Hugh ap Rice, doctor of the civil in hand law.

[6] He founded also a good part of Eton College, and a free school at Wainfleet, where he was born.

There are also in Oxford certain hotels or halls which may right well be called by the names of colleges, if it were not that there is more liberty in them than is to be seen in the other. In my opinion the livers in these are very like to those that are of the inns in the chancery, their names also are these so far as I now remember:

Brodegates. St. Mary Hall. Hart Hall. White Hall. Magdalen Hall. New Inn. Alburne Hall. Edmond Hall. Postminster Hall.

The students also that remain in them are called hostlers or halliers. Hereof it came of late to pass that the right Reverend Father in God, Thomas, late archbishop of Canterbury, being brought up in such an house at Cambridge, was of the ignorant sort of Londoners called an "Hostler," supposing that he had served with some inn-holder in the stable, and therefore, in despite, divers hung up bottles of hay at his gate when he began to preach the gospel, whereas indeed he was a gentleman born of an ancient house, and in the end a faithful witness of Jesus Christ, in whose quarrel he refused not to shed his blood, and yield up his life, unto the fury of his adversaries.

Besides these there is mention and record of divers other halls or hostels that have been there in times past, as Beef Hall, Mutton Hall, etc., whose ruins yet appear: so that if antiquity be to be judged by the shew of ancient buildings which is very plentiful in Oxford to be seen, it should be an easy matter to conclude that Oxford is the elder university. Therein are also many dwelling-houses of stone yet standing that have been halls for students, of very antique workmanship, besides the old walls of sundry others, whose plots have been converted into gardens since colleges were erected.

In London also the houses of students at the Common Law are these:

Sergeant's Inn. Furnival's Inn. Gray's Inn. Clifford's Inn. The Temple. Clement's Inn. Lincoln's Inn. Lion's Inn. David's Inn. Barnard's Inn. Staple Inn. Newmann.

And thus much in general of our noble universities, whose lands some greedy gripers do gape wide for, and of late have (as I hear) propounded sundry reasons whereby they supposed to have prevailed in their purposes. But who are those that have attempted this suit, other than such as either hate learning, piety, and wisdom, or else have spent all their own, and know not otherwise than by encroaching upon other men how to maintain themselves? When such a motion was made by some unto King Henry the Eighth, he could answer them in this manner: "Ah, sirra! I perceive the Abbey lands have fleshed you, and set your teeth on edge, to ask also those colleges. And, whereas we had a regard only to pull down sin by defacing the monasteries, you have a desire also to overthrow all goodness, by subversion of colleges. I tell you, sirs, that I judge no land in England better bestowed than that which is given to our universities; for by their maintenance our realm shall be well governed when we be dead and rotten. As you love your welfares therefore, follow no more this vein, but content yourselves with that you have already, or else seek honest means whereby to increase your livelihoods; for I love not learning so ill that I will impair the revenues of any one house by a penny, whereby it may be upholden." In King Edward's days likewise the same suit was once again attempted (as I have heard), but in vain; for, saith the Duke of Somerset, among other speeches tending to that end—who also made answer thereunto in the king's presence by his assignation: "If learning decay, which of wild men maketh civil; of blockish and rash persons, wise and goodly counsellors; of obstinate rebels, obedient subjects; and of evil men, good and godly Christians; what shall we look for else but barbarism and tumult? For when the lands of colleges be gone, it shall be hard to say whose staff shall stand next the door; for then I doubt not but the state of bishops, rich farmers, merchants, and the nobility, shall be assailed, by such as live to spend all, and think that whatsoever another man hath is more meet for them and to be at their commandment than for the proper owner that has sweat and laboured for it." In Queen Mary's days the weather was too warm for any such course to be taken in hand; but in the time of our gracious Queen Elizabeth I hear that it was after a sort in talk the third time, but without success, as moved also out of season; and so I hope it shall continue for ever. For what comfort should it be for any good man to see his country brought into the estate of the old Goths and Vandals, who made laws against learning, and would not suffer any skilful man to come into their council-house: by means whereof those people became savage tyrants and merciless hell-hounds, till they restored learning again and thereby fell to civility.

Planned and Designed at The Collier Press By William Patten


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