A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE (fn. 1)
The Middle Ages
Since Cambridge is one of the most ancient of European universities, it is not surprising that its origins are obscure. Much legendary lore has been accumulated on the subject, especially in the course of the disputes in the 16th and 17th centuries, as to the relative seniority of Cambridge and of Oxford. Its first founder, according to one legend, was Cantaber, a Spanish prince, who married the daughter of the King of the Britons some time after the year 4321 from the creation of the world, and founded a city on the River Cante to which he brought astronomers and philosophers from Athens. (fn. 2) The traditional list of chancellors begins with St. Amphibalus the Martyr (289). (fn. 3) Another putative founder was Sigebert, King of the East Angles (637), (fn. 4) and other royal persons who are supposed to have granted charters to the University are King Arthur (531), King Cadwald (681), and King Edward the Elder (915). Nor are papal bulls lacking, for both Honorius I (624) and Sergius I (689) forbade the interference of archbishops, bishops, archdeacons and other ecclesiastical officers in the University's affairs. (fn. 5) All this is legend; as one historian wrote of John Caius's speculations on the subject, they are 'about moonshine, and like many erudite disputations, where men reason without data, or even understanding their own terms, not worth a straw'. (fn. 6)
A more difficult, because more real, problem is that of the relationship between the nascent University and the great fenland abbeys, which played so important a part in the life of this part of England in the Middle Ages. The 14th-century Chronicle of Croyland falsely attributed to Peter of Blois relates how monks from Croyland came to lecture in Cambridge in 1109, imitating the plan of study adopted at Orleans. (fn. 7) This theory of the origin of the University has been heavily and cogently attacked by H. Denifle, (fn. 8) but some scholars, like Rouse Ball and Bishop Creighton, continued to believe that there was some connexion between the monasteries and the birth of the University. The former believed that the schools of Cambridge grew gradually as teachers and students gradually assembled in the town; though these teachers would probably have been secular clerks, a considerable proportion of the students may have come from neighbouring monasteries. He also suggested that, once the University had begun to grow, the presence of religious houses in and around the town gave it stability, and that monastic students may have been the dominant class in early days. (fn. 9) Bishop Creighton thought that Cambridge provided a natural centre for eastern England, that Barnwell Priory provided a monastic nucleus and the schools a neutral ground for students from the fenland houses. (fn. 10) If the connexion with Barnwell be emphasized, it should also be noted that the schools grew up in Cambridge town itself, at a considerable distance from the priory. (fn. 11) It is, of course, also true that, throughout the Middle Ages, the regular clergy played an important part in Cambridge life, and this may suggest monastic influence in the foundation. There are a few hints that, by the end of the 12th century, Cambridge may have possessed more than mere grammar schools. There seem to have been, at that time, schools of some standing at Northampton. One of those who probably taught there was Daniel of Morley, who had studied at Toledo, and who may, though the evidence is very dubious, later have removed to Cambridge. (fn. 12) There is also a reference, in an early-16th-century life of Bishop Grosseteste, to his having studied and taught logic and rhetoric at Cambridge before 1199, and, if this is genuine, it records the earliest clear indication of a school of advanced learning there. (fn. 13)
Firmer ground is reached in 1209, in which year some of the scholars who were dispersed from Oxford in the troubles between town and gown came to Cambridge. (fn. 14) The sole authority for this migration, among the chroniclers who mention the troubles at Oxford, is Roger of Wendover, but it is probable that it marks the beginning of the University, understanding this to mean that the students soon established themselves with a form of graduation and licensing of masters, who acted as a legal corporation, and had a head in the shape of a Chancellor. (fn. 15) The Chancellor of the University is mentioned in a document of 1226. (fn. 16) In 1229 the king offered a home to the dispersed students of the University of Paris, some of whom may have come to Cambridge, thus reinforcing the University by a second migration. (fn. 17) Within the next few years, the young University received both royal and papal recognition. In 1231 the king issued four writs referring to its affairs. By the first it was provided that the Chancellor and Masters should signify troublesome and rebellious clerks to the bishop and the bishop to the sheriff, who was to punish them according to the advice of the Chancellor and Masters. The second provided that no clerk should remain in the University unless he was under the tuition of some master. The third required the Bishop of Ely to take up with the sheriff the case of any clerks who were signified to him by the Chancellor and Masters as rebellious, and the fourth provided that the rents of the houses in which students lodged should be assessed by two masters and by two townsmen. (fn. 18) In 1233 Pope Gregory IX authorized the Bishop of Ely to absolve those scholars who had laid hands on one another, and provided that scholars who were willing to appear before the Bishop or the Chancellor should not be summoned outside the diocese. (fn. 19)
Before the general story is resumed, something must be said here about the influence of the friars on the growth of the University. They settled in the town at the period under discussion. (fn. 20) All over Europe the mendicants devoted themselves to study, and their schools had a close connexion with academic development. The relationship between them and the secular clerks, who were the core of the scholastic body, was not, as will be seen, harmonious, but at Cambridge especially they made a considerable impact. A. G. Little pointed out that, whereas in the 13th century few European uni- versities had a school of theology, both Oxford and Cambridge had theological faculties. (fn. 21) The last-named probably came into existence about 1250. There is a definite reference to its existence in a letter from Richard de Gedney, Chancellor of the University, and the other regent masters to Henry III, written about 1260. (fn. 22) William de Kilkenny, Bishop of Ely, who died in 1256, left 200 marks to the Prior and Convent of Barnwell to provide two chaplains, 'students of theology in the University of Cambridge', to say mass for his soul. (fn. 23) The Cambridge theological school certainly grew rapidly, and J. R. H. Moorman considered that this was chiefly due to the presence of the Franciscan school which attracted good teachers to the town. (fn. 24)
The public records of the same period give several glimpses of the development of the University. A royal writ of 1242 gave the Chancellor power to signify misdoers among the students direct to the sheriff. (fn. 25) In 1261 there was a serious affray between north- and south-country students in which the townsfolk joined; houses were plundered and the university records burnt. (fn. 26) Feeling between northerners and southerners always ran high, and the long continuance of these struggles helps to explain the common statutory limitation of the number of fellows of a college who might come from the same county. It was only by means such as this that local groups could be prevented from engrossing for their own associates all the college endowments. (fn. 27) On this occasion the tumult was so serious that the king intervened, and the matter was referred to three justices. Finally sixteen townsmen were executed, and a group of southern scholars granted the royal pardon. (fn. 28) As a result of this brawl some of the Cambridge students migrated to Northampton, joining others who had left Oxford for similar reasons, and obtained a royal licence to continue their studies there. (fn. 29) But this new migration was not to start another university; in 1265 the king forbade the students to continue at Northampton, because of the harm it might do to Oxford. (fn. 30)
The latter years of the 13th century are notable, both for the growth of endowments and for a series of disputes between the University and other bodies, which suggests a growing maturity and independence. Bishop Kilkenny's benefaction, already referred to in another connexion, (fn. 31) was the first of its kind (1256), (fn. 32) and in 1284 Kilkenny's successor in the see of Ely, Hugh de Balsham, founded the first College, Peterhouse. (fn. 33) The foundation of Peterhouse is certainly a landmark, though it must be remembered that, for two centuries or more after this date, the Colleges provided for only a minority of the teachers and students of Cambridge. Perhaps, in the 1280's, a series of quarrels with the town and with other ecclesiastical bodies loomed larger than the foundation of the first College. The repetition, in letters patent of 1266, of the provision of 1231 that the rents of houses occupied by students should be settled by two masters and two burgesses suggests the continuance of friction over a difficult subject, (fn. 34) and in 1270 Prince Edward effected an agreement between the two sides, which provided for the better keeping of the peace and for an annual oath, by both clerks and laymen, to preserve the privileges of the University. (fn. 35) There was also trouble with ecclesiastical rivals. In 1276 Bishop Balsham defined the respective jurisdictions of the University and of the Archdeacon of Ely. His decision laid down the limits of the jurisdiction of the Master of Glomery, and decreed who were to be considered scholars' servants, and therefore answerable to the Chancellor and not to the Archdeacon. He provided that clergy of the town churches were to be subject to the latter, but that priests residing in the town primarily for study were to be subject to the former. Finally he decreed that the Chancellor and University were not to encroach on the jurisdiction of the Bishop or of the Archdeacon. (fn. 36) Rather later, the University came into conflict with its neighbour, Barnwell Priory. The trouble arose first over an attempt to extend the university regulations for settling the rent of houses to a house owned by the prior in St. Sepulchre's parish. Later the Chancellor excommunicated a canon and then the Prior himself because they refused to appear before him. The matter was finally settled (1294) by the Bishop's official who warned the Chancellor that he owed all his jurisdiction over the clergy to the Bishop's favour. (fn. 37)
The conflict with the friars (1303–6) was much more serious because it involved general issues which occurred also in Oxford and in Paris, for, in all three universities alike, difficulties were caused by the existence within the University of bodies of men, playing an important part in university studies, but not fully subject to university obligations and discipline. In 1251–2 there had already been open conflict in Paris, and there was at the same time tension at Oxford. (fn. 38) At that time no trouble occurred in Cambridge, but open quarrel broke out in 1303. In that year the University made three statutes similar to those adopted in the same year at Oxford, which prejudicially affected the friars' position. The first decreed that that alone should be held as statute which was made by the regent and non-regent masters. The result of this was to reduce the power of the faculties and to affect the position of the friars who exercised considerable power in the faculty of theology. The second statute laid down that on certain days of the year sermons were to be preached in St. Mary's by the Chancellor or by regent masters appointed by him, and the third that every bachelor of divinity before incepting as doctor should preach publicly in St. Mary's and not elsewhere, which would have prevented the friars from preaching on such occasions in their own churches. (fn. 39) The friars' leaders, the Dominican Nicholas de Dale and the Franciscan Adam de Houeden, refused to accept the statutes and appealed to Rome, and were, as a result, deprived of their position in the University. Finally (1306) a compromise was agreed on at Bordeaux. The statutes were not withdrawn, but the friars were allowed both to preach on the specified days and to preach their examinatory sermons in their own churches, and the expulsion of Dale and Houeden was withdrawn. (fn. 40) There, for the time, the matter ended, though the position of the friars, as will be seen, was to cause further difficulties. (fn. 41)
Relations with the town remained bad in the 14th century. The townsfolk disliked the provision in the university charter of 1317 that the Mayor and bailiffs, on taking office, should swear to maintain the privileges of the University, (fn. 42) and there may be a connexion between this sentiment and the serious riot of 1322, which prefigured the better known events of 1381. In the former year a large number of townsfolk attacked the hostels of the students, assaulted them and slew a priest, threw a writ concerning the privileges of the University into the mud, and later tore the same writ down from the door of the tolbooth. (fn. 43)
These local jealousies may well have been embittered as the University became stronger and more widely famed. In 1318 Pope John XXII, at the request of King Edward II, formally recognized it as a Studium Generale, which gave its doctors the jus ubique docendi, the right to lecture throughout Christendom, as well as exemption from episcopal interference, though this latter point was not established until much later. (fn. 44) It is probable that, already in the 13th century, the University had possessed the general characteristics of such a studium, 'a considerable number of masters both in the arts and in at least one of the superior faculties, students from distant regions, regular licences and inceptions, royal recognition and privilege', (fn. 45) and that therefore the bull of 1318 was a less important landmark than Denifle thought. (fn. 46) In the half-century after this bull came the first great period of college foundations. Peterhouse had for 40 years stood alone; there now followed in quick succession Michaelhouse (1324), Clare Hall (1326), King's Hall (1337), Pembroke Hall (1347), Gonville Hall (1348), Trinity Hall (1350), and Corpus Christi (1352). (fn. 47) Thereafter no more Colleges were founded for nearly a century.
The second half of the 14th century was marked by the continuance of earlier struggles between the University and its local rivals, the town, the bishop and the orders of friars. It appears that relations with the mendicants were strained all through the century. (fn. 48) The growth of the University in power and prestige, of which the bull of 1318 and the foundation of the seven 14th-century Colleges gives evidence, was bound to lead to jealousy of the prosperity and independence of the friars. One particular bone of contention was their custom of enrolling into their orders boys of fourteen and fifteen, the normal age of the undergraduate of the day. The regents naturally did not care to have students taken away from their schools as a result of this, and the situation became more tense with the reduction in numbers caused by the Black Death. In 1358 the University of Oxford passed a statute forbidding the admission into religious orders of boys under eighteen, and, although there is no record of such a statute at Cambridge, later events make it clear that such a statute was passed. (fn. 49) The Cambridge regent masters made a further effort to limit the friars by passing two more statutes, the first providing that two mendicants of the same cloister should not incept in the same year, and the second that two doctors or bachelors of the same order of mendicants should not read lectures in the University at the same time. (fn. 50) The friars appealed to Rome, and a papal mandate of 1365 to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Llandaff and Bangor, ordering both universities to show cause why certain statutes should not be revoked, explains more fully the issues at stake. (fn. 51) The statutes objected to, in so far as they affected Cambridge, were as follows: that no one should become doctor in divinity without first becoming master of arts; that no cloister of mendicants should have more than two regents; that no one should lecture on the Sentences unless he had taken part in the public theological disputations held in the schools by the resident masters, or until he had offered himself to answer publicly in the schools all the regents in the faculty of theology; that such a lecturer must dispute with all the masters in the faculty before he obtained licence to incept; that, if any grace were sought for a mendicant and refused, and the University were thereby put to expense, no member of that order should be promoted to any degree until that expense had been refunded; that no one should be permitted to lecture on the Sentences without a certificate from two masters of theology. For both sides in the dispute the issues involved were of vital importance. No result seems to have come from Pope Urban VI's mandate, but in 1366 a compromise was made by the King in Parliament. The statutes against the admission of boys under eighteen were annulled and no such statutes were to be made in future, an important victory for the friars. On the other hand, they were to suspend the execution of any papal bulls or letters in their favour. (fn. 52)
The story of the great conflict with the town in 1381 has been told elsewhere in this volume. (fn. 53) After the liberties of the town had been taken into the king's hands, a royal charter of 1382 granted to the University the assize of bread, wine, and beer, the assay of weights and measures, the supervision of forestallers and regrators, and of bad fish and meat within the town and its suburbs, in the same way as the Mayor and townsfolk had exercised them before. In return for these privileges the University was to pay the king £10 annually, the townspeople being forbidden to interfere in these matters. (fn. 54) However, the jurisdictions of the University and of the Borough remained so closely interlocked that these commercial matters caused continual trouble right down to the 19th century, especially at the time of Sturbridge Fair. Another long-standing cause of trouble was underlined by the royal charter to the University of 1383, which redefined the limits of the University's jurisdiction in cases where a scholar was party. (fn. 55) The Chancellor was given cognizance of all personal pleas, trespasses against the peace and misprisions within the town and suburbs (mayhem and felony excepted), 'where a master, scholar, or scholar's servant, or common minister of the University should be a party', and it was provided that he might imprison offenders in the castle or wherever else in the town appeared to be convenient. (fn. 56) Here again, as in the case of the markets, there was a whole host of borderline cases, affecting persons whose exact status was not altogether clear, which exacerbated for centuries the relationship between town and gown.
Another problem was that of the relationship between the Chancellor and the Bishop of Ely. In 1374 John de Donwich was elected Chancellor a second time, and was confirmed by Bishop Arundel without taking the oath of canonical obedience. The Bishop later directed the Chancellor to take the appropriate oath, but the latter refused, and the case was taken to the Court of Arches, which eventually decided in favour of the Bishop. (fn. 57) The practice of Arundel and of his successors seems to have varied in this matter, and the oath was sometimes exacted and sometimes not. The last Chancellor to have been confirmed by the Bishop and to have taken the oath of canonical obedience to him was Richard Billingford in 1400. (fn. 58) In 1401 Pope Boniface IX dispensed the Chancellor-elect from the obligation to obtain confirmation from the Bishop, (fn. 59) and the question of the ecclesiastical independence of the University was finally settled by the Barnwell Process of 1430. (fn. 60)
After 1400 it becomes possible to speak more definitely about the constitution and studies of the University than can be done for earlier centuries. The completion in 1400 of the divinity schools, the first building which the University could claim entirely for its own, suggests growing institutional maturity. (fn. 61) In the 15th century, too, documentary evidence is much more abundant, much of the earlier material having perished in the great riot of 1381. (fn. 62) Both Rashdall and Denifle have stressed that, during the first two centuries of its existence, Cambridge was a far less important university than Oxford. (fn. 63) The German scholar, in fact, treats the two as belonging, in their earlier years, to different classes, (fn. 64) and, though Rashdall hardly goes as far as that, he emphasizes the slower growth of privileges at the junior university and its comparative smallness of size, (fn. 65) as suggested by statutes envisaging that the total number of regents in arts might be as few as twelve. (fn. 66) Some of Rashdall's own strictures, for instance his observation that not a single schoolman can be shown to have taught at Cambridge, are in themselves too severe. (fn. 67) Nevertheless it is undoubtedly true that, from comparatively humble beginnings, Cambridge made great advances in the 15th century which in turn prepared for the predominant position which the younger university enjoyed during the Reformation period, one of the greatest eras in its history. The 15th century itself was not a great period intellectually in English academic history. (fn. 68) Scholasticism had passed its best days; the country was disturbed by foreign wars, and by the jealousies of faction which resulted in civil wars; the suppression of Lollardy may have had some effect in checking intellectual speculation; there was far less intercourse with Paris and foreign centres of learning than there had been in earlier times; the effects of the Statute of Provisors had made it more difficult for university-trained clergy to get livings, which tended to reduce incentives to study. (fn. 69) Of the English universities, Oxford suffered more seriously than Cambridge. Its numbers fell considerably to under 1,000, (fn. 70) and Rashdall considered that the taint of Wycliffism which hung about it drew the attention both of pious founders and of cautious parents to the fenland university. By the end of the century, he thought, the numbers at Cambridge must have been almost as great as those at Oxford. (fn. 71) The earliest of the Grace Books shows that, between 1455–6 and 1487–8, the numbers at Cambridge had increased, but not very greatly. (fn. 72)
The Ancient Statutes of the University probably assumed their present form about the beginning of the 16th century, but they incorporate much older material, (fn. 73) and they give a clear picture enough of the constitution of the University in the later Middle Ages. (fn. 74) Cambridge belonged, like Oxford, to the general type of northern universities, of which Paris is the prototype, where the control of affairs was concentrated in the hands of the masters. At Cambridge the masters were divided into two groups, regents and non-regents. The former were those graduates who were actually engaged in teaching and lecturing, and who were the ultimate source of legislative power. Probably at first the regent masters, as those most closely connected with university affairs, possessed exclusive powers, but gradually, with the foundation of colleges and hostels and the establishment of religious houses, there came to exist an important class of non-regents, resident graduates who were not engaged in the teaching duties of the regency itself, but who were concerned in the business of their own societies and were important enough to claim a real say in affairs. Thus it was provided that that only should be considered a statute which had been approved by the consent of a majority, both of regents and of non-regents, (fn. 75) and similar consent was needed for the alienation of the University's rights or property. (fn. 76)
The chief official of the University was the Chancellor. He was to be elected by the regents, if there were twelve regents in arts, otherwise by both regents and non-regents, for a period of two years, though this might be extended to a third year. (fn. 77) An echo of old quarrels is provided by the statute that no one should be Chancellor and also a bishop's official. (fn. 78) The Chancellor summoned congregations of the regents, and, if necessary, of the non-regents, (fn. 79) and no grace could be proposed except in the presence of himself or his deputy. (fn. 80) A statute of 1488, enacting that no grace dispensing with the statutable requirements for degrees should be submitted without the previous consent of the Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor and two doctors, is probably the germ of that distinctively Cambridge institution called the Caput. (fn. 81) The Chancellor was not allowed to be absent for longer than one month during the readings of the masters, (fn. 82) and, though a Vice-Chancellor could be elected yearly by the regents, (fn. 83) the Chancellor was not allowed to delegate the power of judging the most important causes, such as those deserving expulsion and imprisonment. (fn. 84) He presided in his own court to hear causes in which scholars were concerned, his most formidable weapon being the power of excommunication, though it was provided that, if the case required it, it should be referred to the opinion of the masters as well. (fn. 85) The individual masters were also given power to try causes in which their own scholars were defendants. (fn. 86)
The most important officials of the University, other than the Chancellor, were the two proctors, or, as they were sometimes called in earlier times, rectors. (fn. 87) They were the chief executive officers of the University. They had to be regent masters themselves, and they were elected annually by the other regents. (fn. 88) They controlled the lectures, disputations, and inceptions of the scholars, and had the power of punishing offenders against university regulations, with the general right of appeal to the Chancellor and Masters. They controlled the sale of foodstuffs, and had power to bring monopolists and forestallers before the Chancellor. (fn. 89) They controlled the finances of the University, and had charge of the chest and of the cautions deposited as security for the performance of acts. (fn. 90) They could suspend gremials from their votes and non-gremials from taking degrees, (fn. 91) and, if the Chancellor was remiss in taking action against an injury done to the regents, the proctors themselves were allowed to convoke the regents, and, if necessary, the non-regents as well, to take suitable action. (fn. 92) Of the other officials it is not necessary to say much. The two bedells, one of theology and canon law, the other of arts, were elected by the regents and non-regents, and were obliged to attend at disputations and at all university ceremonies. (fn. 93) The two taxors were elected annually by the regents to fix, in conjunction with two townsmen, the rents of houses occupied by scholars. They also assisted in making the assizes of bread and beer and in the general supervision of the markets. (fn. 94) The scrutators were officers of the non-regent house, and took the votes there. (fn. 95)
It is natural to go on from the constitution of the medieval University to the studies which were pursued there. The normal undergraduate came to Cambridge when he was 14 or 15, or even younger, and the general course of study in arts lasted for seven years, (fn. 96) though only a minority of those who entered completed it. (fn. 97) The entrants were expected to know no more than reading, writing, and a little Latin, and, in early times, the knowledge of the last subject, or 'grammatica', representing the first part of the trivium or primary course of study, would be gained at the university itself, though this became less common later. However, the degree of master of grammar survived into the 16th century; those who wished to incept in grammar had to respond to three masters of the faculty, to read thirteen lectures in Priscian's book of Constructions and to study the larger Priscian, and also to obtain a certificate from three masters. (fn. 98) The grammar course was a training ground for future schoolmasters; in the grammar act, for instance, the master received a palmer and rod from the Vice-Chancellor and publicly beat a boy in the schools. (fn. 99) That the degree was not highly esteemed is suggested by the fact that the Chancellor and regents were not compelled to attend the funerals of 'those who only teach or learn the art of grammar', though they had to go to those of scholars and bedells. (fn. 100) The supervision of the grammar students, or glomerels, was in the hands of the Master of Glomery, an office which goes back before the foundation of the University itself, and originated in the grammar schools which preceded it. He was appointed by the Archdeacon of Ely, (fn. 101) and his powers were, as has been noted, defined in Bishop Balsham's award of 1276. (fn. 102) It is possible to trace the names of the Masters of Glomery well into the 15th century, (fn. 103) but, at the end of that century, the post does not always appear to have been filled, (fn. 104) though it lingered on into the 16th century. (fn. 105) By that time, however, the study of grammar as an academic subject had withered away.
The most important study of the period was the course in arts. This began with grammar, followed by logic and rhetoric, though it was logic which gave the whole course its character, the whole of medieval university education centring upon the disputations in the schools. In his second year the student was created sophister, and was allowed to take part in disputations, instead of merely listening to them. He was not allowed to 'respond to the question' until he had been two years a sophister, had maintained two general sophisms, and had twice responded in the schools, (fn. 106) and he had also to promise to 'determine' within two years of responding to the question. (fn. 107) The questionists were examined by the father of their hostel or college, (fn. 108) and, after the completion of this ceremony, became incepting bachelors, and had to determine, or take part in further disputations during Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday and standing day by day in the schools to answer those who would dispute with them. (fn. 109) In later times the successful performance of these exercises made the student a bachelor of arts, but in earlier days there was probably no separate degree taken at this point; to have accomplished so much meant merely that a definite stage in the whole course had been reached. A statute provides that no one is to determine unless he has heard lectures on Terence for two years, on Aristotle's logic for one year, and on natural philosophy or metaphysics for one year, according as they have been read in his time, and had, in addition, been accepted as suitable in manners and age by the masters. (fn. 110) The student had now completed the trivium; the final stage in the acquisition of the mastership was the quadrivium, consisting of arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. (fn. 111) No one was permitted to incept as master for three years after he had determined. He had, in the interval, to have heard Aristotle's philosophy and mathematics in the schools, to have opposed, to have responded to three masters, and to have received the certificate of the masters of the faculty. (fn. 112) He would also have prepared himself for higher status by giving 'cursory' lectures alongside the 'ordinary' lectures of the masters. (fn. 113) The final ceremonies began with the Vespers and ended with the Commencement, in the latter of which the incepting master had to defend himself in disputations with the youngest regent, non-regent, and doctor of divinity. (fn. 114) Having thus reached the mastership, the new graduate was required to give ordinary lectures, to take his part in disputations, and to attend university ceremonies for the duration of his regency, which, in the Middle Ages, was one year at least. (fn. 115)
The ambitious student had before him the choice either of theology or of law, civil or canon, all of them roads towards professional success. During the period covered by Grace Book A (1454–88) it appears that canon law was the most popular of these three possibilities, with the other two about equally balanced. (fn. 116) The higher degrees in the two laws were, of course, stepping stones towards church preferment and advancement in the royal service. (fn. 117) In civil law the student could not be admitted bachelor unless he had studied for five years, if he had previously been regent in arts, for seven years if not; (fn. 118) after three years of further study he might incept as a doctor if he had heard the Digestum Vetus twice, the Digestum Novum and the Infortiatum once, had lectured cursorily himself, and had opposed and responded in his faculty. (fn. 119) The bachelor in canon law had to hear lectures on civil law for three years, on the Decretals for three years, and on the Decrees for two years more; (fn. 120) to incept in canon law, it was necessary to study civil law for five years, the Decrees for three years, and to hear cursory lectures on the Bible for two years, as well as giving cursory lectures and taking part in disputations. (fn. 121) The theological student was not allowed to oppose until his fifth year if he had been regent in arts, his seventh year if he had not. (fn. 122) In the seventh year from his regency he was allowed to read cursorily Peter Lombard's Book of Sentences. (fn. 123) Once an opponent had begun to read the Sentences, he had, by a statute of 1466, the title of bachelor. (fn. 124) To incept as a doctor of divinity, the candidate had to have been regent in arts, to have attended lectures in divinity for ten years, including two years' lectures on the Bible. He must have read cursorily some book of the Bible and all the books of the Sentences, he must have preached publicly to the clergy, and been opponent and respondent in his faculty after reading the Sentences. (fn. 125) Considerably fewer degrees were taken in medicine than in the other higher faculties; (fn. 126) no one could incept in medicine unless he had been regent in arts, had heard medical lectures for five years, had read two medical treatises cursorily, and had practised for two years. (fn. 127)
Of all the higher studies of Cambridge it is possible to say the most about the theological school, chiefly because of its connexion with the friars. (fn. 128) Up to about 1300 many of the lectors of the Franciscan school were sent to Cambridge from other universities; among them was Thomas of York, author of a work on metaphysics, (fn. 129) and, from about 1297 to 1300, Duns Scotus was at the Cambridge house though he was never lector there. (fn. 130) Some of the questions disputed at Cambridge during the latter part of the 13th century have been preserved; they were of the usual type, among them being the following: 'Whether angels can read the thoughts of men?' and 'Whether the resurrection body can be so sublimated that it can fit into a smaller space than its natural bulk would demand?' (fn. 131) The picture of Cambridge theological studies given by these questions suggests a flourishing and important school, as also does the decree of Benedict XII (1336) that a foreign friar should hold the post of lector both to the Oxford and to the Cambridge Franciscans every third year. (fn. 132) A number of foreign friars did, as a result, come to the Cambridge house, and Moorman considers that the inclusion of Cambridge in this scheme shows it to have been one of the leading places of study in the world. (fn. 133) A prominent Cambridge Franciscan scholar of the 14th century was Richard Conington, who took part in the controversy about apostolic poverty. (fn. 134) Among the Dominican scholars who taught at Cambridge in the 14th century were John de Bromyard, author of the Summa Predicantium, who was Chancellor of the University in 1383, and possibly Robert Holcot. (fn. 135)
To conclude this survey something more must be said of the everyday life of medieval Cambridge. The student, within fifteen days after his coming to the University, was required to have his name enrolled on the matriculation list of a master, and he was forbidden to reside in the town unless he was so enrolled. (fn. 136) In very early days the king had to intervene to regulate the rents of students' lodgings. (fn. 137) Gradually the students came to live in hostels, instead of in mere lodging-houses. The inhabitants of a hostel paid their own expenses, were governed by a principal, and were generally supervised by the university authorities. The majority of medieval undergraduates were hosteldwellers, (fn. 138) even after the foundation of colleges had begun, for the latter were 'in the main comparatively small societies of privileged graduates'. If all the eight Colleges which existed at the end of Edward III's reign had been dissolved, it would not have been a crushing blow to the University. (fn. 139) A very early statute, dating from the reign of Edward I, provides the earliest glimpse of the University's control of hostels. A would-be principal must come to the landlord on St. Barnabas' day and offer him a caution. The principal might not cede his rights to a fellow-student, but only to the landlord, though a would-be successor could claim to succeed him after he had surrendered the hostel. If the landlord refused the caution, the Chancellor himself could admit the principal if appeal was made to him. (fn. 140) This very early document differs from the regulations of the Statuta Antiqua of the late 14th or 15th centuries, which take more trouble to protect the interest of the landlord; for instance, the principal himself was to be solely responsible for the year's rent, though the landlord was forbidden to receive more than the fixed amount. The statute also provided that houses formerly used as schools should not be used for any other purpose so long as the regents wished to hold their schools in them. (fn. 141) Another statute laid down that the Chancellor and his assessors might visit the hostels annually and depose any principals who were unfit for their office. Troublesome and disobedient scholars were to be expelled from the University, and no scholar was to dwell in the town 'but in a hall or hostel under a master or principal'. (fn. 142)
Several lists of hostels, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, survive. John Caius enumerated 20 in all, the greater number of which had existed in his own lifetime, but, at the date at which he was writing, all of them were deserted. (fn. 143) Archbishop Parker's list gives 17, divided between hostels of artists and of lawyers. (fn. 144) Richard Parker, writing in 1622, gave a total of 31, divided between houses of philosophers and divines on the one hand, and on the other of canonists, civilians, and divines. (fn. 145) Fuller lists 34 and 2 'inns'. (fn. 146) The number probably fluctuated from time to time, and Rouse Ball thought that the normal number would have been from 20 to 30. (fn. 147) There is no room here for a detailed list, (fn. 148) but something ought to be said of the better known. Trinity Hostel, which still had students in 1540, seems to have been the longest lived. (fn. 149) St. Nicholas's Hostel was prominent among the houses of jurists, and had many eminent men among its members. (fn. 150) It also seems to have had a reputation for rowdiness; (fn. 151) the Grace Book records a fight on two successive nights with its neighbours at Christ's College, and there are plenty of other examples of inter-hostel brawls recorded. (fn. 152) Borden Hostel was owned partly by Peterhouse, partly by Clare. During the 15th century some of it was occupied by the grammar masters. The Peterhouse records give the names of principals up to 1539. The connexion of the Hostel with canon law studies was especially close. (fn. 153) In time many hostels came to be under the control of colleges. Thus St. Thomas's Hostel was attached to Pembroke, as was St. Mary's, where Matthew Parker once studied, to Corpus. (fn. 154) Physwick Hostel, which belonged to Gonville Hall, has been described in some detail by John Caius. It was not, he says, let out to hire, but was the property of the College, and provided a home for younger members for whom there was no other room. This hostel had an External Principal appointed by the College and an Internal Principal chosen by the residents with the consent of the External Principal, (fn. 155) an arrangement which seems to have been common when a hostel was definitely subordinate to a college. (fn. 156) Physwick Hostel resembled a small college, as did St. Bernard's, which had a hall, chapel, library, and gallery, but most hostels consisted merely of one or more dwelling houses. (fn. 157) All the hostels were unendowed and the students paid their own expenses; (fn. 158) consequently they declined as endowed college foundations grew in importance, but they still appear, with the Colleges, in the rota of appointments in the proctorial statute of 1514, which suggests that they had considerable importance then. (fn. 159)
The regular clergy played an important part in university life right down to the Reformation. Much has already been said about the friars. In the 15th century, as the University grew stronger, its authorities treated them more tolerantly. (fn. 160) There were also several monasteries in the town, the Augustinian priory of Barnwell and the priory of the canons of Sempringham, together with the Benedictine hostel, founded in 1428 and later called Buckingham College. (fn. 161) It is possible that the Caput (fn. 162) included a religious doctor of theology, (fn. 163) and this suggests that the monks were an important separate interest. A considerable number of regulars certainly took degrees; Grace Book A mentions over 100 friars and over 80 monks and canons, (fn. 164) and gives much information about them. Sometimes study in their cloister was allowed to count towards a degree; (fn. 165) on one occasion a prior and the students of his monastery were allowed to have the same standing for their degrees as they had at Oxford. (fn. 166) Sometimes statutes were waived in their favour; thus monastic students were allowed, notwithstanding the statute, to have free entry to the university library. (fn. 167) More important are the numerous graces permitting friars to 'concur', that is, break the statute that two brothers of the same order should not incept in the same year. (fn. 168) The constitutions of Pope Benedict XII (1335–9) directed the Benedictines, Cistercians, and Augustinians to send scholars to a university, and decreed that they should be under the control of a prior of students. No prior of students for the Benedictines of Cambridge made his appearance until the end of the century, and the Benedictine students had no home of their own until Buckingham College was founded. (fn. 169) It appears from a bull of Sixtus IV (1481) that, before this was built, the monks of Norwich had resided at Trinity Hall and Gonville Hall, both colleges with strong Norfolk connexions, and the bull permitted them to continue to reside in these colleges despite the foundation of the new house. (fn. 170) In the early 16th century Gonville Hall certainly had a number of monastic students, many of them from Norwich, from the Augustinian house of Westacre (Norf.), and from Lewes Priory (Suss.), which was a considerable Norfolk landowner. (fn. 171)
The discipline governing student life had become much stricter in the later Middle Ages than in earlier times. This was partly due to the more rigid standards exacted in the colleges. It was generally provided in their statutes that conversation should be in Latin, partly in order to check it altogether, (fn. 172) and amusements were very closely controlled. (fn. 173) Standards of comfort in college were low; there was usually no fire in hall, and there were no fireplaces in rooms, (fn. 174) but, by the standards of the time, the collegian lived and ate well enough. (fn. 175) By no means all medieval students were poor. Most of them probably came from the middle levels of society (fn. 176) and, at Cambridge especially, there was a fair sprinkling of well-born young men. In the rolls of petitions for benefices sent to Rome, 1372–99, writes E. F. Jacob, 'no less than fourteen young nobles are to be traced, including names like Grey, Despenser, FitzHugh, Bardolf, Zouche, and de la Pole.' (fn. 177) Another de la Pole, Lord William, son of the Duke of Suffolk, appears in the Grace Book a century later. (fn. 178) The universities suffered, in the 15th century, as already mentioned, (fn. 179) from the difficulties placed by the Statute of Provisors in the way of graduates obtaining benefices. To get a benefice or to enter a college foundation were the chief means of support open to the scholar, who had to maintain himself through a very long course of study, and the search for benefices played an important part in the general economic position of the late medieval graduate. (fn. 180) At first, the benefits of colleges were limited to the members of the foundation, and 14th-century college statutes were hostile to other residents, perendinants, as they were called. In the 15th century, however, college statutes began to recognize the pensioner, so called because he paid a 'pensio' or rent for his chambers, to require him to study, and to perform scholastic exercises. (fn. 181) The statutes of Godshouse, sealed in 1495–6, not only recognized pensioners, but also provided for college lectures and thus for distinctively college teaching. (fn. 182) College teaching existed at Godshouse as early as 1451, and is provided for in the King's College statutes of 1453. (fn. 183) The appearance of the pensioner and of the college lecture was followed during the next century by that of the college tutor, and the tutorial system replaced the medieval system of lectures by the regent masters. This fundamental change will have to be discussed later in detail, but it may be said here that this victory of college over university teaching lasted until the 20th century, when a more balanced division of teaching between the University and the Colleges has come into being.
Fifteenth-century Cambridge saw no such major events in the long struggles between town and gown as either the 14th or the 16th century, but there is intermittent evidence of friction, which must be remembered as a background to the general story. In 1480–1 the University was writing to its Chancellor, Archbishop Rotherham, urging him to protect its privileges of controlling victual in the town which were being threatened. (fn. 184) Various disputes with the townsfolk involved the University in expense for journeys, for accommodation, and for other charges in London, (fn. 185) and some cases, like that of Hugh Rankyn, a fishmonger, who had been wounded, came before the King in Council (1500–1). (fn. 186) In general, however, external authority did not exercise much control during this period; the main exception was Archbishop Arundel's visitation of 1401. Fuller connects this with the rather earlier visitation of Oxford by Archbishop Courtenay and with Arundel's fear of the existence of Lollard opinions. (fn. 187) The archbishop came himself to Cambridge, and examined the Chancellor and doctors. In addition, his commissioners visited all the colleges except Corpus Christi and King's Hall. (fn. 188)
Most of the visitation articles were of the conventional type: whether the statutes were kept and the scholars were obedient to the Chancellor's authority, whether exercises and disputations were properly maintained and degrees duly taken, whether the numbers of fellows of colleges were complete according to the intentions of the respective founders. There were, however, two questions which deserve rather more detailed notice. The inquiry whether there were any suspected of Lollardy or other heresies is closely connected with the general religious issues of the time; the writ de haeretico comburendo dates from the previous year. (fn. 189) A point of considerable domestic interest in the university annals is raised by the question whether the common chests, with the money therein, were properly kept. These chests had been founded at different times by benefactors, who provided that, out of the money so given, sums should be lent to members of the University who were to deposit a suitable security. No interest was charged and no one could borrow whose income was above a certain figure. If the loans were not repaid, the pledges were sold. (fn. 190) The medieval statutes list six chests; (fn. 191) Fuller gives fifteen which he says existed at the time of the visitation. (fn. 192) One typical example is the Holy Trinity chest, which is of more than usual interest because it was set up by William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich, the founder of Trinity Hall, who endowed it with £100. This sum was in the custody of three masters of arts, one of whom had to be a member of Trinity Hall. A master student and every fellow of that college could borrow £4, a bachelor 30 shillings, a scholar or bedell 20 shillings. It was sometimes provided that the pledge should exceed in value the sum borrowed. (fn. 193) The money in the chests provided a valuable aid for poor scholars, but there were many possibilities of loss. The keepers might be careless, and the stationers, regular university officials who valued pledges and received them for sale, (fn. 194) might neglect to pay over the sums due; in 1479–80 a deceased stationer owed money to several chests, (fn. 195) and in 1488 £12 was obtained from the effects of another deceased stationer for the repair of the chests which were in low water. (fn. 196) The statutes give some further general information. In 1480 it was provided that no book 'written or printed on paper' was to be received as a caution. In 1489 Elizabeth Clere gave 200 marks to make good the losses of the chests, with which sum eight of them were restored to the state they had been in at the time of their foundation. As a result of this generous act the University made a new statute requiring more efficient supervision by the auditors and keepers, and laying down that a book given as security must be double the value of the sum lent. (fn. 197) Another statute decreed that auditors and keepers of chests should settle their accounts annually before the feast of All Saints. (fn. 198)
The visitation of Archbishop Arundel raises the question of the position of the University so far as episcopal jurisdiction was concerned. (fn. 199) Fuller conjectures that the scholars may have been glad to escape from the supreme authority of their Chancellor to a nearer court of appeal than the Pope. (fn. 200) However, the University's privileges were finally clarified thirty years later by the Barnwell Process. In 1430 Pope Martin V issued a bull reciting the petition of the University that the Chancellor had been accustomed to exercise exclusive ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction according to the bulls of Honorius I (624) and Sergius I (689), and that this claim should be recognized since, owing to the long passage of time, the original bulls could not be produced. The Pope therefore delegated the decision of the matter to the Prior of Barnwell and to John Depyng, canon of Lincoln. (fn. 201) Rashdall considers that the spurious bull of Honorius was forged on this occasion; (fn. 202) however that may be, it was certainly used to substantiate the University's claims. The case was heard before the prior alone, Depyng excusing himself on the plea of other business. The university spokesman put forward his case under the following heads. The first claimed that the popes had decreed that no archbishop or bishop should pass an excommunication or interdict upon the doctors and scholars. The second said that, as a result of this prohibition, the Chancellor had been accustomed to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the third that all clerks studying in the University and university servants were under the Chancellor's jurisdiction, and the fourth that the Chancellor possessed, with the knowledge of the bishops and archbishops, full authority over these people in ecclesiastical matters. The fifth article claimed for the Chancellor similar powers over persons contracting with those under his authority. To establish the truth of these claims seven witnesses, of ages varying from 79 to 26, were produced to give evidence of such powers being exercised. Later the genuine letters of Popes John XXII and Boniface IX (fn. 203) were produced, together with the spurious bulls of Honorius I and Sergius I, as well as statutes testifying to the Chancellor's use of the powers claimed. The prior, in his judgement, found for the University, forbidding archbishops and bishops to interfere in its affairs or to excommunicate or issue an interdict against it or its members. This decision was finally confirmed (1433) by Pope Eugenius IV. (fn. 204)
Soon after this, the number of colleges, which had remained stationary since the foundation of Corpus Christi in 1352, began to increase. In 1439 Godshouse was founded as a training college for grammar school masters. (fn. 205) Two years later came Henry VI's King's College, founded on the model of William of Wykeham's New College at Oxford, and 'superior in wealth and prestige to any preceding Cambridge foundation', (fn. 206) with its magnificent chapel as evidence of its importance, though this lay long unfinished. (fn. 207) Queens' College followed in 1448 (fn. 208) and St. Catharine's in 1473. (fn. 209) The list of 15th-century colleges is closed by Jesus (1496), founded on the site of the dissolved nunnery of St. Radegund. (fn. 210) Of these five King's was the most important, and the efforts of its royal founder to obtain for it exceptional privileges and exemption from the authority of the University led to considerable difficulties. Relations between the two bodies were finally settled by the composition of 1457, though the splendid intentions of the founder of King's, because of the Wars of the Roses and the collapse of the Lancastrian cause, were not fully carried out. (fn. 211)
When Bishop Fisher, preaching before King Henry VII in 1506, recalled the latter years of the 15th century, he spoke of a widespread 'weariness of learning and study, so that not a few did take counsel in their own minds how that they might effect their departure so it were not to their own hurt'. He confessed that he did not know what the cause of this state of affairs had been, and it may be supposed that there was something of courtly exaggeration in his contrast between it and the bounty of the reigning monarch towards the University. (fn. 212) However that may be, Fisher's picture has often been taken as typical of the condition of the University on the eve of the rise of the new learning. It is true that the stirrings of change came earlier at Oxford than at Cambridge. (fn. 213) The Grace Books, which record the names of books deposited as cautions for the due performance of acts, throw some interesting light on this question. In Grace Book A (1454–88) the books deposited were almost entirely theological and legal. (fn. 214) In Grace Book B, first part (1488–1511), only a printed Latin translation of Plato strikes any note of change. Though the list of books is less valuable after 1500 because book-cautions became less common, Miss Bateson comments on 'the exceedingly slow movement of the classical revival'. (fn. 215) However, the foundation of Godshouse by William Byngham as a training college for schoolmasters was connected with the many new schools which were being established throughout the century. This widespread movement in education, with its interest in humanist and literary studies, helped to prepare the way for the revival of classical learning later. (fn. 216) John Dogget, Provost of King's 1499–1501, was a humanist who had studied in Italy and who wrote a commentary on Plato's Phaedo, though his approach to Plato was a very medieval one. (fn. 217) A good deal of vigour was shown, not only in the foundation of colleges, but also in the building of the schools quadrangle and in the development of the university library. (fn. 218) In 1478, the rebuilding of the university church of St. Mary began, and there are many references in the Grace Books to the University's contributions towards the work. (fn. 219) One university official who deserves a mention here is the university chaplain; among his many duties was included that of acting as library keeper, and he had also the task of saying obits for benefactors like Archbishop Rotherham. (fn. 220)