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barbarism and general ignorance through which it passed, and only in
modern times has it tried to come back to the spirit of the teachings of
its founder.


The map also shows conditions as they were in Europe at the end of the
fourth century A.D. Syria, Egypt, Africa, and a portion of Asia Minor were
overwhelmed by the Saracens in the seventh century and became Mohammedan,
but Constantinople held out until 1453. The eastern division eventually
gave rise to the Greek Catholic Church of Greece, the Balkans, and Russia,
while the western division became the Roman Catholic Church of western
Europe. At Constantinople Greek learning was preserved until the West was
again ready to receive it. The Eastern Empire for a time retained control
of Sicily and southern Italy (the old _Magna Graecia_), but eventually
these were absorbed by western or Latin Christianity.]

THE FUTURE STORY. For the long period of intellectual stagnation which now
followed, the educational story is briefly told. But little formal
education was needed, and that of but one main type. It was only after the
Church had won its victory over the barbarian hordes, and had built up the
foundations upon which a new civilization could be developed, that
education in any broad and liberal sense was again needed. This required
nearly a thousand years of laborious and painful effort. Then, when
schools again became possible and learning again began to be demanded,
education had to begin again with the few at the top, and the
contributions of Greece and Rome had to be recovered and put into usable
form as a basis upon which to build. It is only very recently that it has
become possible to extend education to all.

In Part II we shall next trace briefly the intellectual life of the Middle
Ages, and the reawakening, and in Part III we shall, among other things,
point out the deep and lasting influence of the work of these ancient
civilizations on our modern educational thoughts and practices.


1. Point out the many advantages of a universal religion for such a
universal Empire as Rome developed, and the advantages of Emperor worship
for such an Empire.

2. What do modern nations have that is much akin to Emperor worship?

3. Explain why Stoicism made such an appeal to the better-educated classes
at Rome.

4. Why is an emotional faith better adapted to the mass of people than an
intellectual one?

5. Explain how the Hebrew scribes, administering such a mixed body of
laws, naturally came to be both teachers and judges for the people.

6. Illustrate how the Hebrew tradition that the moral and spiritual unity
of a people is stronger than armed force has been shown to be true in

7. What great lessons may we draw from the work of the Hebrews in
maintaining a national unity through compulsory education?

8. Why was Jesus' idea as to the importance of the individual destined to
make such slow headway in the world? What is the status of the idea to-day
(a) in China? (b) in Germany? (c) in England? (d) in the United States? Is
the idea necessarily opposed to nationality or even to a strong state

9. Show how the political Church, itself the State, was the natural
outcome during the Middle Ages of the teachings of the early Christians as
to the relationship of Church and State.

10. Is it to be wondered that the Romans were finally led to persecute
"the vast organized defiance of law by the Christians"?

11. Show how the Christian idea of the equality and responsibility of all
gave the citizen a new place in the State.

12. State the reasons for the gradually increasing lack of sympathy and
understanding between the eastern and western Fathers of the Church, and
which finally led to the division of the Church.

13. Explain what is meant by "a State within a State" as applied to the
Church of the third and fourth centuries. Did this prove to be a good
thing for the future of civilization? Why?

14. Would Rome probably have been better able to withstand the barbarian
invasions if Christianity had not arisen, or not? Why?

15. Show how the Christian attitude toward pagan learning tended to stop
schools and destroy the accumulated learning.

16. What was the effect of the Christian attitude toward the care of the
body, on scientific and medical knowledge, and on education? Was the
Christian or the pagan attitude more nearly like that of modern times?

17. Why did the emphasis on form of belief, in the third and fourth
centuries, come to supersede the emphasis on personal virtues and simple
faith of the first and second centuries?

18. Compare the work of the Sunday School of to-day with the catechumenal
instruction of the early Christians.


In the accompanying _Book of Readings_ the following selections are

27. The Talmud: Educational Maxims from.
28. Saint Paul: Epistle to the Romans.
29. Saint Paul: To the Athenians.
30. The Crimes of the Christians.
(a) Minucius Felix: The Roman Point of View.
(b) Tertullian: The Christian Point of View.
31. Persecution of the Christians as Disloyal Subjects of the Empire.
(a) Pliny to Trajan.
(b) Trajan to Pliny.
32. Tertullian: Effect of the Persecutions.
33. Eusebius: Edicts of Diocletian against the Christians.
34. Workman: Certificate of having Sacrificed to the Pagan Gods.
35. Kingsley: The Empire and Christianity in Conflict.
36. Lactantius: The Edict of Toleration by Galerius.
37. Theodosian Code: The Faith of Catholic Christians.
38. Theodosian Code: Privileges and Immunities granted the Clergy.
39. Apostolic Constitutions: How the Catechumens are to be instructed.
40. Leach: Catechumenal Schools of the Early Church.
41. Apostolic Constitutions: Christians should abstain from all Heathen
42. The Nicene Creed of 325 A.D.
43. Saint Benedict: Extracts from the Rule of.
44. Lanfranc: Enforcing Lenten Reading in the Monasteries.
45. Saint Jerome: Letter on the Education of Girls.


1. Characterize the type of education to be provided and the status of the
teacher, as shown in the selections from the Talmud (27). Compare with
Rome. With Athens.

2. Characterize the attitude of Saint Paul toward the Romans (28). Does
his description of Athens (29) tally with the description of the Athenians
given in the text?

3. Was it possible for the Roman and the Christian to understand one
another, thinking as they did in such different terms (30 a-b)?

4. Considering Pliny and Trajan (31 a-b) as Roman officials, with the
Roman point of view, and taking into account the time in the history of
world civilization, would you say that they were quite tolerant of rebels
within the State?

5. Compare the privileges and immunities granted the clergy (38) with the
privileges previously given by Constantine to physicians and teachers

6. Characterize the irrepressible conflict as pictured by Kingsley (35).
Name a few other somewhat similar conflicts in world history.

7. Outline the type of instruction for catechumens as directed in the
Apostolic Constitutions (39).

8. What would have been the effect of the continued rejection of secular
books called for in the Apostolic Constitutions (41)?

9. What was the governmental advantage of the adoption of the Nicene Creed

10. Why did the rule of Saint Benedict (43) requiring readings and study
lead to the copying and preservation of manuscripts?

11. What does the selection from Lanfranc (44) indicate as to the state of
monastic learning?

12. Was there anything pedagogically sound about the letter of Saint
Jerome (45) on the education of girls? Discuss.


* Dill, Sam'l. _Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western
Fisher, Geo. P. _Beginnings of Christianity_.
* Fisher, Geo. P. _History of the Christian Church_.
* Hatch, Edw. _Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian
Church_. (Hibbert Lectures, 1888.)
Hodgson, Geraldine. _Primitive Church Education_.
Kretzmann, P. E. _Education among the Jews_.
MacCabe, Joseph. _Saint Augustine_.
* Monro, D. C. and Sellery, G. E. _Mediaeval Civilization_.
* Swift, F. H. _Education in Ancient Israel to 70 A.D._
Taylor, H. O. _Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages_.
Wishart, A. W. _Short History of Monks and Monasticism_.






THE WEAKENED EMPIRE. Though the first and second centuries A.D. have often
been called one of the happiest ages in all human history, due to a
succession of good Emperors and peace and quiet throughout the Roman
world, [1] the reign of the last of the good Emperors, Marcus Aurelius
(161-180 A.D.), may be regarded as clearly marking a turning-point in the
history of Roman society. Before his reign Rome was ascendant, prosperous,
powerful; during his reign the Empire was beset by many difficulties--
pestilence, floods, famine, troubles with the Christians, and heavy German
inroads--to which it had not before been accustomed; and after his reign
the Empire was distinctly on the defensive and the decline. Though the
elements contributing to this change in national destiny had their origin
in the changes in the character of the national life at least two
centuries earlier, it was not until now that the Empire began to feel
seriously the effects of these changes in a lowered vitality and a
weakened power of resistance.

The virtues of the citizens of the early days of the Republic, trained
according to the old ideas, had gradually given way in the face of the
vices and corruption which beset and sapped the life of the upper and
ruling classes in the later Empire. The failure of Rome to put its
provincial government on any honest and efficient civil-service basis, the
failure of the State to establish and direct an educational system capable
of serving as a corrective of dangerous national tendencies, the lack of a
guiding national faith, the gradual admission of so many Germans into the
Empire, the great extent and demoralizing influence of slavery [2]--all
contributed to that loss of national strength and resisting power which
was now becoming increasingly evident. Other contributing elements of
importance were the almost complete obliteration of the peasantry by the
creation of great landed estates and cattle ranches worked by slaves, in
place of the small farms of earlier days; the increase of the poor in the
cities, and the declining birth-rate; the introduction of large numbers of
barbarians as farmers and soldiers; and the demoralization of the city
rabble by political leaders in need of votes. Captured slaves performed
almost every service, and a lavish display of wealth on the part of a few
came to be a characteristic feature of city life. [3] The great middle,
commercial, and professional classes were still prosperous and contented,
but luxury, imported vices, slavery, political corruption, and new ideals
[4] had gradually sapped the old national vitality and destroyed the
resisting power of the State in the face of a great national calamity.
Rome now stood, much like the shell of a fine old tree, apparently in good
condition, but in reality ready to fall before the blast because it had
been allowed to become rotten at the heart. Sooner or later the boundaries
of the Empire, which had held against the pressure from without for so
long, were destined to be broken and the barbarian deluge from the north
and east would pour over the Empire.

[Illustration: FIG. 31. A BODYGUARD OF GERMANS
A relief from the Column of Marcus Aurelius, at Rome, erected to celebrate
his victories over the Marcomanni, and other German tribes.]

THE BOUNDARIES OF THE EMPIRE ARE BROKEN. While temporary extensions of
territory had at times been made beyond the Rhine and the Danube, these
rivers had finally come to be the established boundaries of the Empire on
the north, and behind these rivers the Teutonic barbarians, or _Germani_,
as the Romans called them, had by force been kept. To do even this the
Romans had been obliged to admit bands of Germans into the Empire, and had
taken them into the Roman army as "allies," making use of their great love
for fighting to hold other German tribes in check. In 166 A.D. the plague,
brought back by soldiers returning from the East, carried off
approximately half the population of Italy. This same year the Marcomanni
(see Figure 18), a former friendly tribe, invaded the Empire as far as the
head of the Adriatic Sea, and it required thirteen years of warfare to put
them back behind the Danube. Even this was accomplished only by the aid of
friendly German tribes. From this time on the Empire was more or less on
the defensive, with the barbarian tribes to the north casting increasingly
longing eyes toward "a place in the sun" and the rich plunder that lay to
the south, and frequently breaking over the boundaries. Rome, though, was
still strong enough to put them back again.

In 275 A.D., after a five years' struggle, the Eastern Emperor gave the
province of Dacia, to the south of the Danube, to the Visigoths, in an
effort to buy them off from further invasion and warfare. This eased the
pressure for another century. In 378 A.D., now pressed on by the terrible
Huns from behind, the Visigoths, as a body, invaded the Eastern Empire,
and in the Battle of Adrianople, near Constantinople, defeated the Roman
army, slew the Roman Emperor, definitely broke the boundaries of the
Empire, and they and the Ostrogoths now moved southward and settled in
Moesia and Thrace. The Germans at Adrianople learned that they could beat
the Roman legions, and from this time on it was they, and not the Romans,
who named the terms of ransom and the price of peace. A few years later,
under Alaric, the Visigoths invaded Greece, then turned westward through
Illyria to the valley of the Po, in northern Italy, which they reached in
the year 400. In 410 the great calamity came when they captured and sacked
Rome. The effect produced on the Roman world by the fall of the Eternal
City, as the news of the almost incredible disaster penetrated to the
remote provinces, was profound (R. 48). For eight hundred years Rome had
not been touched by foreign hands, and now it had been captured and
plundered by barbarian hordes. It seemed to many as though the end of the
world were approaching. The Visigoths now turned west once more, carrying
with them the beautiful sister of the Emperor as a captive bride of the
chief, and finally settled in Spain and southern Gaul, which provinces
were thenceforth lost to Rome. This was the first of the great permanent
inroads into the Empire, and from now on Roman resistance seemed powerless
to stop the flood.

The barriers of the Empire along the Rhine and the Danube now are broken
down. Take a pencil and trace the route followed by each of these

A PERIOD OF TRIBAL MOVEMENTS. The Hunnish pressure also started the
Vandals and Suevi, and within fifty years they had been able to move
across Germany, France, and Spain, plundering the cities on their way.
Finally they crossed to the northern coast of Africa, where they became
noted as the great sea pirates of the Mediterranean. In 455 they crossed
back to Italy, and Rome was sacked for the second time by barbarian
hordes. The Huns, under the leadership of Attila, the so-called "Scourge
of God," now moved in and ravaged Gaul (451) and northern Italy (452), and
then, at the intercession of the Roman Pope Leo, were induced by a ransom
price to return to the lower Danube, where they have since remained. In
476 the barbarian soldiers of the Empire, tired of camp life and demanding
land on which they too might settle, rose in revolt, displaced the last of
the Western Emperors, and elevated Odovacar, a tribesman from the north,
as ruler in his stead. The Western Roman Empire was now at an end. In 493
Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, became king of Italy.

Between 443 and 485 the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes left their earlier homes
in what is now Denmark and northwestern Germany, and overran eastern and
southern Britain. In 486 the Franks, a great nation living along the lower
Rhine, began to move, and within two generations had overrun almost all of
Gaul. In 586 the Lombards invaded and settled the valleys of northern
Italy, displacing the Ostrogoths there. Slavic tribes now moved into the
Eastern Empire--Serbs and Bulgars--and settled in Moesia and Thrace.
Southeastern Europe thus became Slavic-Greek, as western Europe had become
Teutonic-Latin. Figure 32 shows the results of these different migrations
up to about 500 A.D.

EUROPE TO BE TEUTONIC-LATIN. In the seventh century another great wave of
people, of a different racial stock and religion--Semitic and Mohammedan--
starting from Arabia and along the shores of the Red Sea, swept rapidly
through Egypt and Africa and across into Spain and France. For a time it
looked as though they might overrun all western Europe and bring the
German tribes under subjection. Fortunately they were definitely stopped
and decisively defeated by the Franks, in the great Battle of Tours, in
732. They also overran Syria and Persia, but were held in check in Asia
Minor by the Eastern Empire, which did not completely succumb to barbarian
inroads until Constantinople was taken by the Turks, in 1453.

The importance of the result, to the future of our western civilization,
of this battle in the West can hardly be overestimated. The future of
European government, law, education, and civilization was settled on that
Saturday afternoon in October, on the battle plains of Tours. [5] It was a
struggle for mastery and dominion between the Aryan and Semitic races,
between the Christian and Mohammedan religions, between the forces
representing order on the one side and destruction on the other, and
between races destined to succeed to the civilization of Greece and Rome
and a race representing oriental despotism and static conditions.

[Illustration: FIG. 33. THE KNOWN WORLD IN 800
This map shows the great extent of the Mohammedan conquests. The part
marked as "European Heathen" was added to Christianity within the next few
centuries, and became a part of our Latin-Teutonic or western

Driven back across the Pyrenees by the Franks, these people settled in
Spain; later developed there, for a short period, a for-the-time
remarkable civilization, but one that only slightly influenced the current
of European development; and then disappeared as a force in our western
development and progress. We shall meet them again a little later, but
only for a little while, and then they concern our western development no

Our interest from now on lies with the Teutonic-Latin peoples of western
Europe, for it is through them that our western civilization has been
worked out and has come down to us.

WHO THESE INVADERS WERE. A long-continued series of tribal migrations,
unsurpassed before in history, had brought a large number of new peoples
within the boundaries of the old Empire. They finally came so fast that
they could not have been assimilated even in the best days of Rome, and
now the assimilative and digestive powers of Rome were gone. Tall, huge of
limb, white-skinned, flaxen-haired, with fierce blue eyes, and clad in
skins and rude cloths, they seemed like giants to the short, small, dark-
skinned people of the Italian peninsula. Quarrelsome; delighting in
fighting and gambling; given to drunkenness and gluttonous eating;
possessed of a rude polytheistic religion in which _Woden_, the war god,
held the first place, and Valhalla was a heaven for those killed in
battle; living in rude villages in the forest, and maintaining themselves
by hunting and fishing--it is not to be wondered that Rome dreaded the
coming of these forest barbarians (R. 46).

[Illustration: FIG 34. A GERMAN WAR CHIEF
Restored, and rather idealized (From the Musee d'Artillerie at Paris)]

The tribes nearest the Rhine and the Danube had taken on a little
civilization from long contact with the Romans, but those farther away
were savage and unorganized (Rs. 46, 47). In general they represented a
degree of civilization not particularly different from that of the better
American Indians in our colonial period, [6] though possessing a much
larger ability to learn. The "two terrible centuries" which brought these
new peoples into the Empire were marked by unspeakable disorder and
frightful destruction. It was the most complete catastrophe that had ever
befallen civilized society.

(From the Column of Marcus Aurelius, at Rome) Note the circular huts of
reeds, without windows, and with but a single door.]

THEY SETTLE DOWN WITHIN THE EMPIRE. Finally, after a period of wandering
and plundering, each of these new peoples settled down within the Empire
as rulers over the numerically larger native Roman population, and slowly
began to turn from hunting to a rude type of farming. For three or four
centuries after the invasions ceased, though, Europe presented a dreary
spectacle of ignorance, lawlessness, and violence. Force reigned where law
and order had once been supreme. Work largely ceased, because there was no
security for the results of labor. The Roman schools gradually died out,
in part because of pagan hostility (all pagan schools were closed by
imperial edict in 529 A.D.), and in part because they no longer ministered
to any real need. The church and the monastery schools alone remained, the
instruction in these was meager indeed, and they served almost entirely
the special needs of the priestly and monastic classes. The Latin language
was corrupted and modified into spoken dialects, and the written language
died out except with the monks and the clergy. Even here it became greatly
corrupted. Art perished, and science disappeared. The former Roman skill
in handicrafts was largely lost. Roads and bridges were left without
repair. Commerce and intercourse almost ceased. The cities decayed, and
many were entirely destroyed (R. 49).

The new ruling class was ignorant--few could read or write their names--
and they cared little for the learning of Greece and Rome. Much of what
was excellent in the ancient civilizations died out because these new
peoples were as yet too ignorant to understand or use it, and what was
preserved was due to the work of others than themselves. It was with such
people and on such a basis that it was necessary for whatever constructive
forces still remained to begin again the task of building up new
foundations for a future European civilization. This was the work of
centuries, and during the period the lamp of learning almost went out.

BARBARIAN AND ROMAN IN CONTACT. Civilization was saved from almost
complete destruction chiefly by reason of the long and substantial work
which Rome had done in organizing and governing and unifying the Empire;
by the relatively slow and gradual coming of the different tribes; and by
the thorough organization of the governing side of the Christian Church,
which had been effected before the Empire was finally overrun and Roman
government ceased. In unifying the government of the Empire and
establishing a common law, language, and traditions, and in early
beginning the process of receiving barbarians into the Empire and
educating them in her ways and her schools, [7] Rome rendered the western
world a service of inestimable importance and one which did much to
prepare the way for the reception and assimilation of the invaders. [8] In
the cities, which remained Roman in spirit even after their rulers had
changed, and where the Roman population greatly preponderated even after
the invaders had come, some of the old culture and handicrafts were kept
up, and in the cities of southern Europe the municipal form of city
government was retained. Roman law still applied to trials of Roman
citizens, and many Roman governmental forms passed over to the invader
chiefly because he knew no other. The old Roman population for long
continued to furnish the clergy, and these, because of their ability to
read and write, also became the secretaries and advisers of their rude
Teutonic overlords. In one capacity or another they persuaded the leaders
of the tribes to adopt, not only Christianity, but many of the customs and
practices of the old civilization as well. These various influences helped
to assimilate and educate the newcomers, and to save something of the old
civilization for the future. Being strong, sturdy, and full of youthful
energy, and with a large capacity for learning, the civilizing process,
though long and difficult, was easier than it might otherwise have been,
and because of their strength and vigor these new races in time infused
new life and energy into every land from Spain to eastern Europe (R. 50).

The most powerful force with which the barbarians came in contact, though,
and the one which did most to reduce them to civilization, was the
Christian Church. Organized, as we have seen, after the Roman governmental
model, and as a State within a State, the Church gained in strength as the
Roman government grew weaker, and was ready to assume governmental
authority when Rome could no longer exert it. The barbarians here
encountered an organization stronger than force and greater than kings,
[9] which they must either accept and make terms with or absolutely
destroy. As all the tribes, though heathen, possessed some form of spirit
or nature worship or heathen gods, which served as a basis for
understanding the appeal of the Church, the result was the ultimate
victory, and the Christianizing, in name at least, of all the barbarian
tribes. This was the first step in the long process of civilizing and
educating them.

THE IMPRESS OF CHRISTIANITY UPON THEM. The importance of the services
rendered by bishops, priests, and monks during what are known as the _Dark
Ages_ can hardly be overestimated. In the face of might they upheld the
right of the Church and its representatives to command obedience and
respect. [10] The Christian priest gradually forced the barbarian chief to
do his will, though at times he refused to be awed into submission,
murdered the priest, and sacked the sacred edifice. That the Church lost
much of its early purity of worship, and adopted many practices fitted to
the needs of the time, but not consistent with real religion, there can be
no question. In time the Church gained much from the mixture of these new
peoples among the old, as they infused new vigor and energy into the blood
of the old races, but the immediate effect was quite otherwise. The Church
itself was paganized, but the barbarians were in time Christianized.

Priests and missionaries went among the heathen tribes and labored for
their conversion. Of course the leaders were sought out first, and often
the conversion of a chieftain was made by first converting his wife. After
the chieftain had been won the minor leaders in time followed. The lesson
of the cross was proclaimed, and the softening and restraining influences
of the Christian faith were exerted on the barbarian. It was, however, a
long and weary road to restore even a semblance of the order and respect
for life and property which had prevailed under Roman rule.

One of the most interesting of all the conversions was that made by the
Bishop Ulphilas (c. 313-383) among the Visigoths, before they moved
westward from their original home north of the Danube, in what is now
southwestern Russia. Ulphilas was made bishop and sent among them in 343,
and spent the remainder of his life in laboring with them. He devised an
alphabet for them, based on the Greek, and gave them a written language
into which he translated for them the Bible, or rather large portions of
it. In the translation he omitted the two books of Kings and the two
Samuels, that the people might not find in them a further stimulus to
their great warlike activity.

[Illustration: FIG. 36. A PAGE OF THE GOTHIC GOSPELS (_reduced_)
One of the treasures of the library of the University or Upsala, in
Sweden, is a manuscript of this translation by Bishop Ulphilas. Greek
letters, with a few Runic signs were used to represent Gothic sounds. The
word "rune" comes from a Gothic word meaning "mystery." To the primitive
Germans it seemed a mysterious thing that a series of marks could express

Christianity had been carried early to Great Britain by Roman
missionaries, and in 440 Saint Patrick converted the Irish. In 563 Saint
Columba crossed to Scotland, founded the monastery at Iona, and began the
conversion of the Scots. After the Angles and Saxons and Jutes had overrun
eastern and southern Britain there was a period of several generations
during which this portion of the island was given over to Teutonic
heathenism. In 597 Saint Augustine, "the Apostle to the English," landed
in Kent and began the conversion of the people, that year succeeding in
converting Ethelbert, King of Kent. In 626 Edwin, King of Northumbria, was
converted, and in 635 the English of Wessex accepted Christianity. The
English at once became strong supporters of the Christian faith, and in
878 they forced the invading Danes to accept Christianity as one of the
conditions of the Peace of Wedmore. (See Map, Figure 42.)

In 496 Clovis, King of the Franks, and three thousand of his followers
were baptized, following a vow and a victory in battle; [11] in 587
Recarred, King of the Goths in Spain, was won over; and in 681 the South
Saxons accepted Christianity. The Germans of Bavaria and Thuringia were
finally won over by about 740. Charlemagne repeatedly forced the northern
Saxons to accept Christianity, between 772 and 804, when the final
submission of this German tribe took place. Finally, in the tenth century,
Rollo, Duke of the Normans, was won (912); Boleslav II, King of the
Bohemians, in 967; and the Hungarians in 972. In the tenth century the
Slavs were converted to the Eastern or Greek type of Christianity, and
Poland, Norway, and Sweden to the Western or Roman type. The last people
to be converted were the Prussians, a half-Slavic tribe inhabiting East
Prussia and Lithuania, along the eastern Baltic, who were not brought to
accept Christianity, in name, until near the middle of the thirteenth
century, though efforts were begun with them as early as 900. As late as
1230 they were still offering human sacrifices to their heathen gods to
secure their favor, but soon after this date they were forced to a nominal
acceptance of Christianity as a result of conquest by the "Teutonic
Knights." It was thus a thousand years after its foundation before Europe
had accepted in name the Christian faith. To change a nominal acceptance
to some semblance of a reality has been the work of the succeeding

WORK OF THE CHURCH DURING THE MIDDLE AGES. Everywhere throughout the old
Empire, and far into the forest depths of barbarian lands, went bishops,
priests, and missionaries, and there parishes were organized, rude
churches arose, and the process of educating the fighting tribesmen in the
ways of civilized life was carried out. It was not by schools of learning,
but by faith and ceremonial that the Church educated and guided her
children into the type she approved. Schools for other than monks and
clergy for a time were not needed, and such practically died out. The
Church and its offices took the place of education and exercised a
wholesome and restraining influence over both young and old throughout the
long period of the Middle Ages. These the Church in time taught the
barbarian to respect. The great educational work of the Church during this
period of insecurity and ignorance has seldom been better stated than in
the following words by Draper:

Of the great ecclesiastics, many had risen from the humblest ranks
of society, and these men, true to their democratic instincts, were
often found to be the inflexible supporters of right against might.
Eventually coming to be the depositaries of the knowledge that then
existed, they opposed intellect to brute force, in many instances
successfully, and by the example of the organization of the Church,
which was essentially republican, they showed how representative
systems may be introduced into the State. Nor was it over communities
and nations that the Church displayed her chief power. Never in the
world before was there such a system. From her central seat at Rome,
her all-seeing eye, like that of Providence itself, could equally take
in a hemisphere at a glance, or examine the private life of any
individual. Her boundless influences enveloped kings in their palaces,
and relieved the beggar at the monastery gate. In all Europe there was
not a man too obscure, too insignificant, or too desolate for her.
Surrounded by her solemnities, every one received his name at her
altar; her bells chimed at his marriage, her knell tolled at his
funeral. She extorted from him the secrets of his life at her
confessionals, and punished his faults by her penances. In his hour of
sickness and trouble her servants sought him out, teaching him, by her
exquisite litanies and prayers, to place his reliance on God, or
strengthening him for the trials of life by the example of the holy
and just. Her prayers had an efficacy to give repose to the souls of
his dead. When, even to his friends, his lifeless body had become an
offense, in the name of God she received it into her consecrated
ground, and under her shadow he rested till the great reckoning-day.
From little better than a slave she raised his wife to be his equal,
and, forbidding him to have more than one, met her recompense for
those noble deeds in a firm friend at every fireside. Discountenancing
all impure love, she put round that fireside the children of one
mother, and made that mother little less than sacred in their eyes. In
ages of lawlessness and rapine, among people but a step above savages,
she vindicated the inviolability of her precincts against the hand of
power, and made her temples a refuge and sanctuary for the despairing
and oppressed. Truly she was the shadow of a great rock in many a
weary land. [12.]

THE CIVILIZING WORK OF THE MONASTERIES. No less important than the Church
and its clergy was the work of the monasteries and their monks in building
up a basis for a new civilization. These, too, were founded all over
Europe. To make a map of western Europe showing the monasteries
established by 800 A.D. would be to cover the map with a series of dots.
[13] The importance of their work is better understood when we remember
that the Germans had never lived in cities, and did not settle in them on
entering the Empire. The monasteries, too, were seldom established in
towns. Their sites were in the river valleys and in the forests (R. 69),
and the monks became the pioneers in clearing the land and preparing the
way for agriculture and civilization. Not infrequently a swamp was taken
and drained. The Middle-Age period was essentially a period of settlement
of the land and of agricultural development, and the monks lived on the
land and among a people just passing through the earliest stages of
settled and civilized life. In a way the inheritors of the agricultural
and handicraft knowledge of the Romans, the monks became the most skillful
artisans and farmers to be found, and from them these arts in time reached
the developing peasantry around them. Their work and services have been
well summed up by the same author just quoted, as follows:

It was mainly by the monasteries that to the peasant class of Europe
was pointed out the way of civilization. The devotions and charities;
the austerities of the brethren; their abstemious meal; their meager
clothing, the cheapest of the country in which they lived; their
shaven heads, or the cowl which shut out the sight of sinful objects;
the long staff in their hands; their naked feet and legs; their
passing forth on their journeys by twos, each a watch on his brother;
the prohibitions against eating outside of the wall of the monastery,
which had its own mill, its own bakehouse, and whatever was needed in
an abstemious domestic economy (Figure 38); their silent hospitality
to the wayfarer, who was refreshed in a separate apartment; the lands
around their buildings turned from a wilderness into a garden, and,
above all, labor exalted and ennobled by their holy hands, and
celibacy, forever, in the eye of the vulgar, a proof of separation
from the world and a sacrifice to heaven--these were the things that
arrested the attention of the barbarians of Europe, and led them on to
civilization. [14]

THE PROBLEM FACED BY THE MIDDLE AGES. That the lamp of learning burned low
during this period of assimilation is no cause for wonder. Recovery from
such a deluge of barbarism on a weakened society is not easy. In fact the
recovery was a long and slow process, occupying nearly the whole of a
thousand years. The problem which faced the Church, as the sole surviving
force capable of exerting any constructive influence, was that of changing
the barbarism and anarchy of the sixth century, with its low standards of
living and lack of humane ideals, into the intelligent, progressive
civilization of the fifteenth century. This was the work of the Middle
Ages, and largely the work of the Christian Church. It was not a period of
progress, but one of assimilation, so that a common western civilization
might in time be developed out of the diverse and hostile elements mixed
together by the rude force of circumstances. The enfeebled Roman race was
to be reinvigorated by mixture with the youthful and vigorous Germans (R.
50); to the institutions of ancient society were to be added certain
social and political institutions of the Germanic peoples; all were to be
brought under the rule of a common Christian Church; and finally, when
these people had become sufficiently civilized and educated to enable them
to understand and appreciate, "nearly every achievement of the Greeks and
the Romans in thought, science, law, and the practical arts" was to be
recovered and made a part of our western civilization.

In this chapter we have dealt largely with the great fundamental movements
which have so deeply influenced the course of human history. In the
chapters which immediately follow we shall tell how learning was preserved
during the period and what facilities for education actually existed;
trace the more important efforts made to reestablish schools and learning;
and finally describe the culmination of the process of absorbing and
educating the Germans in the civilization they had conquered that came in
the great period of recovery of the ancient learning and civilization--the
age of the Renaissance.


1. Do the peculiar problems of assimilation of the foreign-born, revealed
to us by the World War, put us in a somewhat similar position to Rome
under the Empire as relates to the need of a guiding national faith?

2. Outline how Rome might have been helped and strengthened by a national
school system under state control.

3. Outline how our state school systems could be made much more effective
as national instruments by the infusion into their instruction of a strong
national faith.

4. Try to picture the results upon our civilization had western Europe
become Mohammedan.

5. The movement of new peoples into the Roman Empire was much slower than
has been the immigration of foreign peoples into the United States, since
1840. Why the difference in assimilative power?

6. How do you think the Roman provinces and Italy, after the tribes from
the North had settled down within the Empire, compared with Mexico after
the years of revolution with peons and brigands in control? With Russia,
after the destruction wrought by the Bolshevists?

7. Explain the importance of the long civilizing and educating work of
Rome among the German tribes, in preparing the means for the preservation
of Roman institutions after the downfall of the Roman government.

8. What does the fact that Roman institutions and Roman thinking continued
and profoundly modified mediaeval life indicate as to the nature of Roman
government and the Roman power of assimilation?

9. Though Rome never instituted a state school system, was there not after
all large educational work done by the government through its intelligent

10. Show how the breakdown of Roman government and Roman institutions was
naturally more complete in Gaul than in northern Italy, and more complete
in northern than in central or southern Italy, and hence how Roman
civilization was naturally preserved in larger measure in the cities of
Italy than elsewhere.

11. Show how the Christian Church, too, could not have completely
dispensed with Roman letters and Roman civilization, had it desired to do
so, but was forced of necessity to preserve and pass on important portions
of the civilization of Rome.

12. What do you think would have been the effect on the future of
civilization had the barbarian tribes overrun Spain, Italy, and Greece
during the Age of Pericles?

13. What modern analogies do we have to the civilizing work of the monks
and clergy during the Middle Ages?

14. Picture the work of the monasteries in handing on to western Europe
the arts and handicrafts and skilled occupations of Rome. Cite some

15. What civilizing problem, somewhat comparable to that of barbarian
Europe, have we faced in our national history? Why have we been able to
obtain results so much more rapidly?


In the accompanying _Book of Readings_ the following selections are

46. Caesar: The Hunting Germans and their Fighting Ways.
47. Tacitus: The Germans and their Domestic Habits.
48. Dill: Effect on the Roman World of the News of the Sacking of Rome
by Alaric.
49. Giry and Reville: Fate of the Old Roman Towns.
50. Kingsley: The Invaders, and what they brought.
51. General Form for a Grant of Immunity to a Bishop.
52. Charlemagne: Powers and Immunities granted to the Monastery of Saint


1. State the differences in character Caesar observes (46) between the
Gauls to the west of the Rhine and the Germans to the east.

2. What German characteristics that Tacitus describes (47) would prove
good additions to Roman life?

3. Do the emotions of Saint Jerome on hearing of the sacking of Rome (48)
reveal anything as to the extent to which the Roman had become a Churchman
and the Churchman a Roman? Illustrate.

4. Is it probable that a quarter-century of Bolsheviki rule in Russia
would produce results comparable to those described by Giry and Reville

5. Is Kingsley right in stating (50) that the best elements of all the
modern European peoples came from the barbarian invaders? State what seem
to you to be the important contributions of barbarian invader, Roman, and

6. Do the grants of privileges and immunities shown in the general form
(51)and the specific form (52) seem to follow naturally from the earlier
grants to physicians and teachers (26) and to the clergy (38)? Point out
the relationship.


* Adams, G. B. _Civilization during the Middle Ages_.
Church, R. W. _The Beginnings of the Middle Ages_.
Kingsley, Chas. _The Roman and Teuton_.
* Thorndike, Lynn. _History of Mediaeval Europe_.




THE LOW INTELLECTUAL LEVEL. As was stated in the preceding chapter, the
lamp of learning burned low throughout the most of western Europe during
the period of assimilation and partial civilization of the barbarian
tribes. The western portion of the Roman Empire had been overrun, and rude
Germanic chieftains were establishing, by the law of might, new kingdoms
on the ruins of the old. The Germanic tribes had no intellectual life of
their own to contribute, and no intellectual tastes to be ministered unto.
With the destruction of cities and towns and country villas, with their
artistic and literary collections, much that represented the old culture
was obliterated, [2] and books became more and more scarce. [3] The
destruction was gradual, but by the beginning of the seventh century the
loss had become great. The Roman schools also gradually died out as the
need for an education which prepared for government and gave a knowledge
of Roman law passed away, and the type of education approved by the Church
was left in complete control of the field. As the security and leisure
needed for study disappeared, and as the only use for learning was now in
the service of the Church, education became limited to the narrow lines
which offered such preparation and to the few who needed it. Amid the
ruins of the ancient civilization the Church stood as the only
conservative and regenerative force, and naturally what learning remained
passed into its hands and under its control.

The result of all these influences and happenings was that by the
beginning of the seventh century Christian Europe had reached a very low
intellectual level, and during the seventh and eighth centuries conditions
grew worse instead of better. Only in England and Ireland, as will be
pointed out a little later, and in a few Italian cities, was there
anything of consequence of the old Roman learning preserved. On the
Continent there was little general learning, even among the clergy (R. 64
a). Many of the priests were woefully ignorant, [4] and the Latin writings
of the time contain many inaccuracies and corruptions which reveal the low
standard of learning even among the better educated of the clerical class.
The Church itself was seriously affected by the prevailing ignorance of
the period, and incorporated into its system of government and worship
many barbarous customs and practices of which it was a long time in
ridding itself. So great had become the ignorance and superstition of the
time, among priests, monks, and the people; so much had religion taken on
the worship of saints and relics and shrines; and so much had the Church
developed the sensuous and symbolic, that religion had in reality become a
crude polytheism instead of the simple monotheistic faith of the early
Church. Along scientific lines especially the loss was very great.
Scientific ideas as to natural phenomena disappeared, and crude and
childish ideas as to natural forces came to prevail. As if barbarian
chiefs and robber bands were not enough, popular imagination peopled the
world with demons, goblins, and dragons, and all sorts of superstitions
and supernatural happenings were recorded. Intercommunication largely
ceased; trade and commerce died out; the accumulated wealth of the past
was destroyed; and the old knowledge of the known world became badly
distorted, as is evidenced by the many crude mediaeval maps. (See Figure
46.) The only scholarship of the time, if such it might be called, was the
little needed by the Church to provide for and maintain its government and
worship. Almost everything that we to-day mean by civilization in that age
was found within the protecting walls of monastery or church, and these
institutions were at first too busy building up the foundations upon which
a future culture might rest to spend much time in preserving learning,
much less in advancing it.


THE MONASTERIES DEVELOP SCHOOLS. In this age of perpetual lawlessness and
disorder the one opportunity for a life of repose and scholarly
contemplation lay in the monasteries. Here the rule of might and force was
absent (R. 52), and the timid, the devout, and the studiously inclined
here found a refuge from the turbulence and brutality of a rude
civilization. The early monasteries, and especially the monastery of Saint
Victor, at Marseilles, founded by Cassian in 404, had represented a
culmination of the western feeling of antagonism to all ancient learning,
but with the founding of Monte Cassino by Saint Benedict, in 529 A.D., and
the promulgation of the Benedictine rule (R. 43), a more liberal attitude
was shown. [5] This rule was adopted generally by the monasteries
throughout what is now Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and England, and the
Benedictine became the type for the monks of the early Middle Ages. To
this order we are largely indebted for the copying of books and the
preservation of learning throughout the mediaeval period.

The 48th rule of Saint Benedict, it will be remembered (R. 43), had
imposed reading and study as a part of the daily duty of every monk, but
had said nothing about schools. Subsequent regulations issued by superiors
had aimed at the better enforcement of this rule (R. 44), that the monks
might lead devout lives and know the Bible and the sacred writings of the
Church. Imposed at first as a matter of education and discipline for the
monks, this rule ultimately led to the establishment of schools and the
development of a system of monastic instruction. As youths were received
at an early age [6] into the monasteries to prepare for a monastic life,
it was necessary that they be taught to read if they were later to use the
sacred books. This led to the duty of instructing novices, which marks the
beginning of monastic instruction for those within the walls. As books
were scarce and at the same time necessary, and the only way to get new
ones was to copy from old ones, the monasteries were soon led to take up
the work once carried on by the publishing houses of ancient Rome, and in
much the same way. This made writing necessary, and the novices had to be
instructed carefully in this, as well as in reading. [7] The chants and
music of the Church called for instruction of the novices in music, and
the celebration of Easter and the fast and festival days of the Church
called for some rudimentary instruction in numbers and calculation.

Out of these needs rose the monastery school, the copying of manuscripts,
and the preservation of books. Due to their greater security and quiet the
monasteries became the leading teaching institutions of the early part of
the Middle-Age period, and those who wished their children trained for the
service of the Church gave them to the monasteries (R. 53 a). The
development of the monastic schools was largely voluntary, though from an
early date bishops and rulers began urging the monasteries to open schools
for boys in connection with their houses, and schools became in time a
regular feature of the monastic organization. From schools only for those
intending to take the vows (_oblati_), the instruction was gradually
opened, after the ninth century, to others (_externi_) not intending to
take the vows, and what came to be known as "outer" monastic schools were
in time developed.

(From an engraving by Viollet-le-Duc, dated 1718, of the Cistercian Abbey
of Citeaux, in France) This monastery was founded in the forests of what
is now northeastern France, in 1198 A.D., and was the first of a reformed
Benedictine order, known as Cistercians. For an explanation of the
monastery, see the opposite page. (Note: explanation follows.)

_Explanation of the Monastery opposite_: The cross, by the roadside,
indicates the entrance gate. Passing through the orchards and fields, the
traveler reached the outer gate-house. At the almonry (_C_) food and drink
were given out; on the second floor rooms for the night could be had; in
the little chapel (_D_) prayers could be said; and in the stable (_F_) the
traveler's horse could be cared for for the night. An inner gate through
(_E_) opened into an inner court, around which were the barns, chicken-
yards, cow-sheds, etc. The Abbot lived at _H_. _G_ was a dormitory for the
lay brothers who did the heavy work of the monastery, and who entered the
church (_N_) at the rear through a special doorway (_S_). All of these
buildings were considered as outside the monastery proper.

Inside were the great church (_N_), with the library (_P_) in the rear.
Seven _scriptoria_ are shown on the side of the library building. _M_ was
the large dormitory for the monks, and _R_ the infirmary for old and sick
brothers. _I_ was the kitchen, _K_ was the dining-hall (refectory), and
_L_ the stairs to the upper dormitory rooms. _C_ and _E_ are two cloisters
with corridors on the four sides, somewhat similar to the cloisters shown
for the monastery on Plate I. The copying of books often took place in
these cloisters, though a _scriptorium_ was usually found under the
library, the library proper, as in Plate 2, being on the second floor
(_P_) and reached by a winding stair. A wall surrounded the monastery
grounds, and a stream of running water passed through them.]

The monasteries became the preservers of learning. Another need developed
the copying of pagan books, and incidentally the preservation of some of
the best of Roman literature. The language of the Church very naturally
was Latin, as it was a direct descendant of Roman life, governmental
organization, citizenship, and education. The writings of the Fathers of
the Western Church had all been in Latin, and in the fourth century the
Bible had been translated from the Greek into the Latin. This edition,
known as the _Vulgate_ [8] _Bible_, became the standard for western Europe
for ten centuries to come. The German tribes which had invaded the Empire
had no written languages of their own, and their spoken dialects differed
much from the Latin speech of those whom they had conquered. Latin was
thus the language of all those of education, and naturally continued as
the language of the Church and the monastery for both speech and writing.
All books were, of course, written in Latin.

Under the rude influences and the general ignorance of the period, though,
the language was easily and rapidly corrupted, and it became necessary for
the monasteries and the churches to have good models of Latin prose and
verse to refer to. These were best found in the old Latin literary
authors--particularly Caesar, Cicero, and Vergil. To have these, due to
the great destruction of old books which had taken place during the
intervening centuries, it was necessary to copy these authors, [9] as well
as the Psalter, the Missal, [10] the sacred books, and the writings of the
Fathers of the Church (Rs. 55, 56). It thus happened that the monasteries
unintentionally began to preserve and use the ancient Roman books, and
from using them at first as models for style, an interest in their
contents was later awakened. While many of the monasteries remained as
farming, charitable, and ascetic institutions almost exclusively, and were
never noted for their educational work, a small but increasing number
gradually accumulated libraries and became celebrated for their literary
activity and for the character of their instruction. The monasteries thus
in time became the storehouses of learning, the publishing houses of the
Middle Ages (Rs. 54, 55, 56), teaching institutions of first importance,
and centers of literary activity and religious thought, as well as centers
for agricultural development, work in the arts and crafts, and Christian
hospitality. Many developed into large and important institutions (R. 69).

THE COPYING OF MANUSCRIPTS. [11] The work of the more important
monasteries and the monastic churches in copying books was a service to
learning of large future significance. While many of the books copied were
for the promotion of the religious service, such as Missals and Psalters
(R. 55), and many others were tales of saints and wearisome comments on
the sacred writings, a few were old classical texts representing the best
of Roman literary work. A few monastic chronicles and histories of
importance were composed by the brothers, and also preserved for us by the
copying process.

The production of a single book was a task of large proportions, and
explains in part the small number of volumes the monasteries accumulated.
After the raids of the Mohammedans across Egypt, in the seventh century,
the supply of Egyptian papyrus stopped because of the interruption of
communications, and the only writing material during the Middle Ages was
the skin of sheep or goats or calves. Sheepskins were chiefly used, and a
book of size might require a hundred or more skins. These were first
soaked in limewater to loosen the hair, then scraped clean of hair and
flesh, and then carefully stretched on board frames to dry. After they had
dried they were again scraped with sharp knives to secure an even
thickness, and then rubbed smooth with pumice and chalk. When finished,
the clean, shining, cream-colored skin was known as vellum, [12] or
parchment. This was next cut into pages of the desired size and arranged
ready for writing. The larger pieces were used for large books, such as
are shown in Plate 2, and the remnants to produce small books. The inks,
too, had to be prepared, and the pages ruled.

The main writing was done with black, but the page was frequently bordered
with red, gold, or some other bright color, while many beautiful
illustrations were inserted by artistic monks. Sometimes an initial letter
was beautifully embellished, as is shown in Figure 39; sometimes
illustrations were introduced in the body of the page, of which Figures 39
and 40 are types; and sometimes a colored illustration was painted on a
sheet of vellum and inserted in the book. Figure 44 represents such an
illustrated page in an old manuscript. Finally, when completed, the
lettered and illustrated parchment sheets were arranged in order, sewed
together with a deerskin or pigskin string, bound together between oaken
boards and covered with pigskin, properly lettered in gold, fitted with
metal corners and clasps (R. 57), as shown in Plate 2, and often chained
to their bookrack in the library with heavy iron chains as well. (See
Figure 71 and Plate 2.) Still further to protect the volume from theft, an
anathema against the thief was usually lettered in the volume (R. 58).

This shows the beautiful work done by some of the nuns and monks in
"illuminating" the books they copied. This was done in colors by a nun,
who pictured her own work in this initial letter L.]

Such was the painfully slow method of producing and multiplying books
before the advent of printing, and in days when skill in copying
manuscripts was not particularly common, even among the monks. It required
from a few months to a year or more to produce a few copies, depending on
the size and nature of the work, whereas to-day, with printing-presses,
five thousand copies of such a book as this can be printed and bound in a
few days.

[Illustration: FIG. 40. A MONK IN A SCRIPTORIUM
(From an illuminated picture in a manuscript in the Royal Library at
Brussels) This picture shows the beautiful work done in "illuminating"
manuscript books by mediaeval writers. Each copy was a work of art. This
represents a better type of _scriptorium_ than is usually shown.]

THE SCRIPTORIUM. An important part of the material equipment of many
monasteries, in consequence, came to be a _scriptorium_, or writing-room,
where the copying of manuscripts could take place undisturbed. In some
monasteries one general room was provided, though it was customary to have
a number of small rooms at the side of the library. In the monastery shown
in Figure 38, seven small rooms for this purpose are shown built out on
one side of the library. Sometimes individual cells along a corridor were
provided. The advantage of the single room in which a number of monks
worked came when an edition of eight or ten copies of a book was to be
prepared. One monk could then dictate, while eight or ten others carefully
printed on the skins before them what was dictated by the reader. [13]
Figure 40 shows a monk at work, though here he is copying from a book
before him. After an edition of eight or ten copies of a book had been
prepared and bound the extra copies were sent to neighboring and sometimes
distant monasteries, sometimes in exchange for other books, and sometimes
as gifts to brothers who had longed to read the work (R. 55). New
monasteries were provided with the beginnings of a library in this way,
and churches were supplied with Missals, Psalters, and other books needed
for their services.

The writing-room, or rooms, came to be a very important place in those
monasteries noted for their literary activity. West gives an interesting
description of the _scriptorium_ at Tours, where the learned English monk,
Alcuin, was Abbot from 796 to 804, and which at the time was the principal
book-writing monastery in Frankland. Describing Alcuin's labors to secure
books to send to other monasteries in Charlemagne's kingdom, he says:

We can almost reconstruct the scene. In the intervals between the hours of
prayer and the observance of the round of cloister life, come hours for
the copying of books under the presiding genius of Alcuin. The young monks
file into the _scriptorium_, and one of them is given the precious
parchment volume containing a work of Bede or Isidore or Augustine, or
else some portion of the Latin Scriptures, or even a heathen author. He
reads slowly and clearly at a measured rate while all the others seated at
their desks take down his words, and thus perhaps a score of copies are
made at once. Alcuin's observant eye watches each in turn, and his
correcting hand points out the mistakes in orthography and punctuation.
The master of Charles the Great, in that true humility that is the charm
of his whole behavior, makes himself the writing-master of his monks,
stooping to the drudgery of faithfully and gently correcting their many
puerile mistakes, and all for the love of studies and the love of Christ.
Under such guidance, and deeply impressed by the fact that in the copying
of a few books they were saving learning and knowledge from perishing, and
thereby offering a service most acceptable to God, the copying in the
_scriptorium_ went on in sobriety from day to day. Thus were produced
those improved copies of books which mark the beginning of a new age in
the conserving and transmission of learning. Alcuin's anxiety in this
regard was not undue, for the few monasteries where books could be
accurately transcribed were as necessary for publication in that time as
are the great publishing houses to-day. [14]

Charlemagne's empire at his death is shaded darker than other parts of the

MONASTIC COLLECTION. Despite the important work done by a few of the
monasteries in preserving and advancing learning, large collections of
books were unknown before the Revival of Learning, in the fourteenth
century. The process of book production in itself was very slow, and many
of the volumes produced were later lost through fire, or pillage by new
invaders. During the early days of wood construction a number of monastic
and church libraries were burned by accident. In the pillaging of the
Danes and Northmen on the coasts of England and northern France, in the
ninth and tenth centuries, a number of important monastic collections
there were lost. In Italy the Lombards destroyed some collections in their
sixth-century invasion, and the Saracens burned some in southern Italy in
the ninth. Monte Cassino, among other monasteries, was destroyed by both
the Lombards and the Saracens. From a number of extant catalogues of old
monastic libraries we know that, even as late as the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, a library of from two to three hundred volumes was
large. [15] The catalogues show that most of these were books of a
religious nature, being monastic chronicles, manuals of devotion, comments
on the Scriptures, lives of miracle-working saints, and books of a similar
nature (Rs. 55, 56). A few were commentaries on the ancient learning, or
mediaeval textbooks on the great subjects of study of the time (R. 60). A
still smaller number were copies of old classical literary works, and of
the utmost value (R. 57).

THE CONVENTS AND THEIR SCHOOLS. The early part of the Middle Ages also
witnessed a remarkable development of convents for women, these receiving
a special development in Germanic lands. Filled with the same aggressive
spirit as the men, but softened somewhat by Christianity, many women of
high station among the German tribes founded convents and developed
institutions of much renown. This provided a rather superior class of
women as organizers and directors, and a conventual life continued,
throughout the entire Middle Ages, to attract an excellent class of women.
This will be understood when it is remembered that a conventual life
offered to women of intellectual ability and scholarly tastes the one
opportunity for an education and a life of learning. The convents, too,
were much earlier and much more extensively opened for instruction to
those not intending to take the vows than was the case with the
monasteries, and, in consequence, it became a common practice throughout
the Middle Ages, just as it is to-day among Catholic families, to send
girls to the convent for education and for training in manners and
religion. Many well-trained women were produced in the convents of Europe
in the period from the sixth to the thirteenth centuries.

The instruction consisted of reading, writing, and copying Latin, as in
the monasteries, as well as music, weaving and spinning, and needlework.
Weaving and spinning had an obvious utilitarian purpose, and needlework,
in addition to necessary sewing, was especially useful in the production
of altar-cloths and sacred vestments. The copying and illuminating of
manuscripts, music, and embroidering made a special appeal to women (R.
56), and some of the most beautifully copied and illuminated manuscripts
of the mediaeval period are products of their skill. [16] Their
contribution to music and art, as it influenced the life of the time, was
also large. The convent schools reached their highest development about
the middle of the thirteenth century, after which they began to decline in

LEARNING IN IRELAND AND BRITAIN. As was stated earlier in this chapter,
the one part of western Europe where something of the old learning was
retained during this period was in Ireland, and in those parts of England
which had not been overrun by the Germanic tribes. Christian civilization
and monastic life had been introduced into Ireland probably as early as
425 A.D., and probably by monastic missionaries from Lerins and Saint
Victor (see Figure 41). Saint Patrick preached Christianity to the Irish,
about 440 A.D., and during the fifth and sixth centuries churches and
monasteries were founded in such numbers over Ireland that the land has
been said to have been dotted all over with churches, monasteries, and
schools. Saint Patrick had been educated in the old Roman schools,
probably at Tours when it was still an important Roman provincial city.
Other early missionaries had had similar training, and these, not sharing
the antipathy to pagan learning of the early Italian church fathers, had
carried Greek and Latin languages and learning to Ireland. Here it
flourished so well, largely due to the island being spared from invasion,
that Ireland remained a center for instruction in Greek long after it had
virtually disappeared elsewhere in western Christendom. So much was this
the case, says Sandys, in his _History of Classical Scholarship_, "that if
any one knew Greek it was assumed that he must have come from Ireland."

In 565 A.D., Saint Columba, an eminent Irish scholar and religious leader,
crossed over to what is now southwestern Scotland, founded there the
monastery of Iona, and began the conversion of the Picts. Saint Augustine
landed in Kent in 597, and had begun the conversion of the Angles and
Saxons and Jutes who had settled in southeastern Britain, while shortly
afterwards the Irish monks from Iona began the conversion of the people of
the north of Britain. The monastery of Lindisfarne was founded about 635
A.D., and soon became an important center of religious and classical
learning in the north. Irish and English monks also crossed in numbers to
northern Frankland, and labored for the conversion of the Franks and

In 664 A.D., at a council held at Whitby, the Irish Church in England and
the Roman Church were united, and a great enthusiasm for religion and
learning swept over the island. In 670, Theodore of Tarsus and the Abbot
Hadrian, whom Bede, the scholar and historian of the early English Church,
describes as men "instructed in secular and divine literature both Greek
and Latin" (R. 59 a), arrived in England from southern Italy and began
their work of instructing pupils in Greek and Latin (R. 59 b). Both taught
at Canterbury, and raised the cathedral school there to high rank. In 674
the monastery at Wearmouth was founded, and in 682 its companion Yarrow.
These were endowed with books from Rome and Vienne, and soon became famous
for the instruction they provided. It was at the twin monasteries of
Wearmouth and Yarrow that the Venerable Bede (673-735), whose
_Ecclesiastical History of England_ gives us our chief picture of
education in Britain in his time, was educated and remained as a lifelong
student. [17] As a result of all these efforts a number of northern
monasteries, as well as a few of the cathedral schools, early became
famous for their libraries, scholars, and learning. This culture in
Ireland and Britain was of a much higher standard than that obtaining on
the Continent at the time, because the classical inheritance there had
been less corrupted.

THE CATHEDRAL SCHOOL AT YORK. One of the schools which early attained fame
was the cathedral school at York, in northern England. This had, by the
middle of the eighth century, come to possess for the time a large
library, and contained most of the important Latin authors and textbooks
then known (R. 61). In this school, under the _scholasticus_ Aelbert, was
trained a youth by the name of Alcuin, born in or near York, about 735
A.D. In a poem describing the school (R. 60), he gives a good portrayal of
the instruction he received, telling how the learned Aelbert "moistened
thirsty hearts with diverse streams of teaching and the varied dews of
learning," and sorted out "youths of conspicuous intelligence" to whom he
gave special attention. Alcuin afterward succeeded Aelbert as
_scholasticus_, and was widely known as a gifted teacher. Well aware of
the precarious condition of learning amid such a rude and uncouth society,
he handed on to his pupils the learning he had received, and imbued them
with something of his own love for it and his anxiety for its preservation
and advancement. It was this Alcuin who was soon to give a new impetus to
the development of schools and the preservation of learning in Frankland.

CHARLEMAGNE AND ALCUIN. In 768 there came to the throne as king of the
great Frankish nation one of the most distinguished and capable rulers of
all time--a man who would have been a commanding personality in any age or
land. His ancestors had developed a great kingdom, and it was his
grandfather who had defeated the Saracens at Tours (p. 113) and driven
them back over the Pyrenees into Spain. This man Charlemagne easily stands
out as one of the greatest figures of all history. For five hundred years
before and after him there is no ruler who matched him in insight, force,
or executive capacity. He is particularly the dominating figure of
mediaeval times. Born in an age of lawlessness and disorder, he used every
effort to civilize and rule as intelligently as possible the great
Frankish kingdom. Wars he waged to civilize and Christianize the Saxon
tribes of northern Germany, to reduce the Lombards of northern Italy to
order, and to extend the boundaries of the Frankish nation. At his death,
in 814, his kingdom had succeeded to most of the western possessions of
the old Roman Empire, including all of what to-day comprises France,
Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland, large portions of what is now western
Germany and northern Italy, and portions of northern Spain. (See Figure

Realizing better than did his bishops and abbots the need for educational
facilities for the nobles and clergy, he early turned his attention to
securing teachers capable of giving the needed instruction. These, though,
were scarce and hard to obtain. After two unsuccessful efforts to obtain a
master scholar to become, as it were, his minister of education, he
finally succeeded in drawing to his court perhaps the greatest scholar and
teacher in all England. At Parma, in northern Italy, Charlemagne met
Alcuin, in 781, and invited him to leave York for Frankland. After
obtaining the consent of his archbishop and king, Alcuin accepted, and
arrived, with three assistants, at Charlemagne's court, in 782, to take up
the work of educational propaganda in Frankland.

This monastery, located on a high hill and resembling a mediaeval fortress
as one approaches it, was founded in 1341 by a Florentine merchant. The
picture shows the cloisters and interior court. Eighteen cells, two
churches, and other rooms are entered from the cloisters. A few monks were
still in residence there late as 1905, one of whom is seen, but the
monastery was then in the process of being closed by the Italian


"Ponderous Folios for Scholastics made"

This shows the large oak-bound and chained books as well as a common type
of bookrack used in churches and monasteries during the earlier period.]

The plight in which he found learning was most deplorable, presenting a
marked contrast to conditions in England. Learning had been almost
obliterated during the two centuries of wild disorder from 600 on. From
600 to 850 has often been called the darkest period of the Dark Ages, and
Alcuin arrived when Frankland was at its worst. The monastic and cathedral
schools which had been established earlier had in large part been broken
up, and the monasteries had become places for the pensioning of royal
favorites and hence had lost their earlier religious zeal and
effectiveness. The abbots and bishops possessed but little learning, and
the lower clergy, recruited largely from bondmen, were grossly ignorant,
greatly to the injury of the Church. The copying of books had almost
ceased, and learning was slowly dying out.

THE PALACE SCHOOL. There had for some time been a form of school connected
with the royal court, known as the _palace school_, though the study of
letters had played but a small part in it. To the reorganization of this
school Alcuin first addressed himself, introducing into it elementary
instruction in that learning of which he was so fond. The school included
the princes and princesses of the royal household, relatives, attaches,
courtiers, and, not least in importance as pupils, the king and queen. To
meet the needs of such a heterogeneous circle was no easy task.

The instruction which Alcuin provided for the younger members of the
circle was largely of the question and answer (catechetical) type, both
questions and answers being prepared by Alcuin beforehand and learned by
the pupils. Fortunately examples of Alcuin's instruction have been
preserved to us in a dialogue prepared for the instruction of Pepin, a son
of Charlemagne, then sixteen years old (R. 62). With the older members the
questions and answers were oral. For all, though, the instruction was of a
most elementary nature, ranging over the elements of the subjects of
instruction of the time. Poetry, arithmetic, astronomy, the writings of
the Fathers, and theology are mentioned as having been studied.
Charlemagne learned to read Latin, but is said never to have mastered the
art of writing. It was not an easy position for any one to fill. To quote
from West's description: [18]

Charles wanted to know everything and to know it at once. His strong,
uncurbed nature eagerly seized on learning, both as a delight for
himself and a means of giving stability to his government, and so,
while he knew he must be docile, he was at the same time imperious.
Alcuin knew how to meet him, and at need could be either patiently
jocular or grave and reproving. Thus, on one occasion when he had been
informed of the great learning of Augustine and Jerome, he impatiently
demanded of Alcuin, "Why can I not have twelve clerks such as these?"
Twelve Augustines and Jeromes! and to be made arise at the king's
bidding! Alcuin was shocked. "What!" he discreetly rejoined, "the Lord
of heaven and earth had but two such, and wouldst thou have twelve?"
But his personal affection for the king was most unselfish, and he
consequently took great delight in stimulating his desire for

He studied everything Alcuin set before him, but had special anxiety
to learn all about the moon that was needed to calculate Easter. With
such an eager and impatient pupil as Charles, the other scholars were
soon inspired to beset Alcuin with endless puzzling questions, and
there are not wanting evidences that some of them were disposed to
levity and even carped at his teachings. But he was indefatigable,
rising with the sun to prepare for teaching. In one of his poetical
exercises he says of himself that "as soon as the ruddy charioteer of
the dawn suffuses the liquid deep with the new light of day, the old
man rubs the sleep of night from his eyes and leaps at once from his
couch, running straightway into the fields of the ancients to pluck
their flowers of correct speech and scatter them in sport before his

school, Alcuin and Charlemagne turned their attention to the improvement
of education among the monks and clergy throughout the realm. The first
important service was the preparation and sending out of a carefully
collected and edited series of sermons to the churches containing, "in two
volumes, lessons suitable for the whole year and for each separate
festival, and free from error." These Charlemagne ordered used in the
churches (R. 63). He also says, "we have striven with watchful zeal to
advance the cause of learning, which has been almost forgotten by the
negligence of our ancestors; and, by our example, also we invite those
whom we can to master the study of the liberal arts," meaning thereby to
incite the bishops and clergy to a study of the learning of the mediaeval
time. The volumes and letter were sent out in 786, four years after
Alcuin's arrival at the court. Further to aid in the revival of learning,
Charlemagne, in 787, imported a number of monks from Italy, who were
capable of giving instruction in arithmetic, singing, and grammar, and
sent them to the principal monasteries to teach.

In 787 the first general proclamation on education of the Middle Ages was
issued (R. 64 a), and from it we can infer much as to the state of
learning among the monks and clergy of the time. In this document the king
gently reproves the abbots of his realm for their illiteracy, and exhorts
them to the study of letters. The signature is Charlemagne's, but the hand
is Alcuin's. In it he tells the abbots, in commenting on the fact that
they had sent letters to him telling him that "sacred and pious prayers"
were being offered in his behalf, that he recognized in "most of these
letters both correct thoughts and uncouth expressions; because what pious
devotion dictated faithfully to the mind, the tongue, uneducated on
account of the neglect of study, was not able to express in a letter
without error." He therefore commands the abbots neither to neglect the
study of letters, if they wish to have his favor, nor to fail to send
copies of his letter "to all your suffragans and fellow bishops, and to
all the monasteries." Two years later (789) Charlemagne supplemented this
by a further general admonition (R. 64 b) to the ministers and clergy of
his realm, exhorting them to live clean and just lives, and closing with:

And let schools be established in which boys may learn to read.
Correct carefully the Psalms, the signs in writing, the songs, the
calendar, the grammar, in each monastery and bishopric, and the
catholic book; because often some desire to pray to God properly, but
they pray badly because of incorrect books.

In 802 he further commanded that "laymen shall learn thoroughly the Creed
and the Lord's Prayer" (R. 64 c). Finally, in his enthusiasm for schools,
Charlemagne went so far as to direct that "every one should send his son
to school to study letters, and that the child should remain at school
with all diligence until he should become well instructed in learning."
Charlemagne, of course, was addressing freemen of the court and the
official classes. That he ever meant to include the children of the
laboring classes, or that the idea of compulsory education ever entered
his head, may well be doubted.

work of Charlemagne and Alcuin were, after all, rather meager. The
difficulties they faced are almost beyond our comprehension. Nobles and
clergy were alike ignorant and uncouth. There seemed no place to begin. It
may be said that by Charlemagne's work he greatly widened the area of
civilization, created a new Frankish-Roman Empire to be the inheritor of
the civilization and culture of the old one, checked the decline in
learning and reawakened a desire for study, and that he began the
substitution of ideas for might as a ruling force among the tribes under
his rule. That for a time he gave an important impetus to the study of
letters, which resulted in a real revival in the educational work of some
of the monasteries and cathedral schools, seems certain. Men knew more of
books and wrote better Latin than before, and those who wished to learn
found it easier to do so. The state of society and the condition of the
times, however, were against any large success for such an ambitious
educational undertaking, and after the death of Charlemagne, the division
of his empire, and the invasions of the Northmen, education slowly
declined again, though never to quite the level it had reached when
Charlemagne came to the throne. In a few schools there was no decline, and
these became the centers of learning of the future. Charlemagne having
substituted merit for favoritism in his realm, promoting to be bishops and
abbots the most learned men of his time, many of these became zealous
workers in the cause of education and did much to keep up and advance
learning after his death.

Among the most able of his helpers was Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans. He
carried out most thoroughly in his diocese the instructions of the king,
giving to his clergy the following directions:

Let the priests hold schools in the towns and villages, and if any of
the faithful wish to entrust their children to them for the learning
of letters, let them not refuse to receive and teach such children.
Moreover, let them teach them from pure affection, remembering that it
is written, "the wise shall shine as the splendor of the firmament,"
and "they that instruct many in righteousness shall shine as the stars
forever and forever." And let them exact no price from the children
for their teaching, nor receive anything from them, save what their
parents may offer voluntarily and from affection.

Another able assistant was Alcuin himself, who, after fourteen years of
strenuous service at Charlemagne's court, was rewarded by the king with
the office of Abbot at the monastery of Saint Martin, at Tours. There he
spent the last eight years of his life in teaching, copying manuscripts,
and writing letters to bishops and abbots regarding the advancement of
religion and learning. The work of Alcuin in directing the copying of
manuscripts has been described. In a letter to Charlemagne, soon after his
appointment, he reviews his labors, contrasts the state of learning in
England and Frankland, and appeals to Charlemagne for books from England
to copy (R. 65). So important was his work as a teacher as well that at
his death, in 814, most of the important educational centers of the
kingdom were in the hands of his former pupils. Perhaps the most important
of all these was Rabanus Maurus, who became head of the monastery school
at Fulda. We shall learn more of him in the next chapter.


NEW INVASIONS; THE NORTHMEN. Five years after Alcuin went to Frankland to
help Charlemagne revive learning in his kingdom, a fresh series of
barbarian invasions began with the raiding of the English coast by the
Danes. In raid after raid, extending over nearly a hundred years, these
Danes gradually overran all of eastern and central England from London
north to beyond Whitby, plundering and burning the churches and
monasteries, and destroying books and learning everywhere. By the Peace of
Wedmore, effected by King Alfred in 878, the Danes were finally given
about one half of England, and in return agreed to settle down and accept
Christianity. The damage done by these invaders was very large, and King
Alfred, in his introduction to an Anglo-Saxon translation of Pope
Gregory's _Pastoral Care_ (R. 66), gives a gloomy picture of the
destruction wrought to the churches and the decay of learning in England.

Other bands of these Northmen (Danes and Norwegians) began to prey on the
northern coast of Frankland, and in the tenth century seized all the coast
of what is now northern France and down as far as Paris and Tours. From
Tours to Corbie (see Figure 41) churches and monasteries were pillaged and
burned, Tours and Corbie with their libraries both perishing. Amiens and
Paris were laid siege to, and disorder reigned throughout northern
Frankland. _The Annals of Xanten_ and the _Annals of Saint Vaast_, two
mediaeval chronicles of importance, give gloomy pictures of this period.
Three selections will illustrate:

According to their custom the Northmen plundered East and West Frisia
and burned ... towns.... With their boats filled with immense booty,
including both men and goods, they returned to their own country. [19]

The Normans inflicted much harm in Frisia and about the Rhine. A
mighty army of them collected by the river Elbe against the Saxons,
and some of the Saxon towns were besieged, others burned, and most
terribly did they oppress the Christians. [20]

The Northmen ceased not to take Christian people captive and kill
them, and to destroy churches and houses and burn villages. Through
all the streets lay bodies of the clergy, of laymen, nobles, and
others, of women, children, and suckling babes. There was no road or
place where the dead did not lie, and all who saw Christian people
slaughtered were filled with sorrow and despair. [21]

After much destruction, Rollo, Duke of the Normans, finally accepted
Christianity, in 912, and agreed to settle down in what has ever since
been known as _Normandy_. From here portions of the invaders afterward
passed over to England in the Norman Conquest of 1066. This was the last
of the great German tribes to move, and after they had raided and
plundered and settled down and accepted Christianity, western Europe,
after six centuries of bloodshed and pillage and turmoil and disorder, was
at last ready to begin in earnest the building-up of a new civilization
and the restoration of the old learning.

WORK OF ALFRED IN ENGLAND. The set-back to learning caused by this latest
deluge of barbarism was a serious one, and one from which the land did not
recover for a long time. In northern Frankland and in England the results
were disastrous. The revival which Charlemagne had started was checked,
and England did not recover from the blow for centuries. Even in the parts
of England not invaded and pillaged, education sadly declined as a result
of nearly a century of struggle against the invaders (R. 66). Alfred,
known to history as _Alfred the Great_, who ruled as English king from 871
to 901, made great efforts to revive learning in his kingdom. Probably
inspired by the example of Charlemagne, he established a large palace
school (R. 68), to the support of which he devoted one eighth of his
income; he imported scholars from Mercia and Frankland (R. 67); restored
many monasteries; and tried hard to revive schools and encourage learning
throughout his realm, and with some success. [22] With the great decay of
the Latin learning he tried to encourage the use of the native Anglo-Saxon
language, [23] and to this end translated books from Latin into Anglo-
Saxon for his people. In his Introduction to Gregory's volume (R. 66) he
expresses the hope, "If we have tranquillity enough, that all the free-
born youth now in England, who are rich enough to be able to devote
themselves to it ... be set to learn ... English writing," while those who
were to continue study should then be taught Latin. The coming of the
Normans in 1066, with the introduction of Norman-French as the official
language of the court and government, for a time seriously interfered with
the development of that native English learning of which Alfred wrote.

In the preceding chapter and in this one we have traced briefly the great
invasions, or migrations, which took place in western Europe, and
indicated somewhat the great destruction they wrought within the bounds of
the old Empire. In this chapter we have traced the beginnings of Christian
schools to replace the ones destroyed, the preservation of learning in the
monasteries, and the efforts of Charlemagne and Alfred to revive learning
in their kingdoms. In the chapter which follows we shall describe the
mediaeval system of education as it had evolved by the twelfth century,
after which we shall be ready to pass to the beginnings of that Revival of
Learning which ultimately resulted in the rediscovery of the learning of
the ancient world.


1. Picture the gradual dying-out of Roman learning in the Western Empire,
and explain why pagan schools and learning lingered longer in Britain,
Ireland, and Italy than elsewhere.

2. At what time was the old Roman civilization and learning most nearly

3. Explain how the monasteries were forced to develop schools to maintain
any intellectual life.

4. Explain how the copying of manuscripts led to further educational
development in the monasteries.

5. Would the convents have tended to attract a higher quality of women
than the monasteries did of men? Why?

6. Explain why Greek was known longer in Ireland and Britain than
elsewhere in the West.

7. What was the relative condition of learning in Frankland and England,
about 900 A.D.?

8. What light is thrown on the conditions of the civilization of the time
by the small permanent success of the efforts of Charlemagne, looking
toward a revival of learning in Frankland?

9. Explain how Latin came naturally to be the language of the Church, and
of scholarship in western Europe throughout all the Middle Ages.

10. After reading the story of the migrations, and of the fight to save
some vestiges of the old civilization, try to picture what would have been
the result had Rome not built up an Empire, and had Christianity not
arisen and conquered.


In the accompanying _Book of Readings_ the following selections are

53. Migne: Forms used in connection with monastery life:
(a) Form for offering a Child to a Monastery.
(b) The Monastic Vow.
(c) Letter of Honorable Dismissal from a Monastery.
54. Abbot Heriman: The Copying of Books at a Monastery.
55. Othlonus: Work of a Monk in writing and copying Books.
56. A Monk: Work of a Nun in copying Books.
57. Symonds: Scarcity and Cost of Books.
58. Clark: Anathemas to protect Books from Theft.
59. Bede: On Education in Early England.
(a) The Learning of Theodore.
(b) Theodore's Work for the English Churches.
(c) How Albinus succeeded Abbot Hadrian.
60. Alcuin: Description of the School at York.
61. Alcuin: Catalogue of the Cathedral Library at York.
62. Alcuin: Specimens of the Palace School Instruction.
63. Charlemagne: Letter sending out a Collection of Sermons.
64. Charlemagne: General Proclamations as to Education.
(a) The Proclamation of 787 A.D.
(b) General Admonition of 789 A.D.
(c) Order as to Learning of 802 A.D.
65. Alcuin: Letter to Charlemagne as to Books and Learning.
66. King Alfred: State of Learning in England in his Time.
67. Asser: Alfred obtains Scholars from Abroad.
68. Asser: Education of the Son of King Alfred.
69. Ninth-Century Plan of the Monastery at Saint Gall.


1. Point out the similarity between: (a) The form for offering a child to
a monastery and the monastic vow (53 a-b), and a modern court form for
renouncing or adopting a child. (b) The letter of dismissal from a
monastery (53 c), and the modern letter of honorable dismissal of a
student from a college or normal school.

2. Compare the type of books copied by the Abbot of Saint Martins (55) and
those copied by the nun at Wessebrunn (56).

3. Was the evolution of the school-teacher out of the copyist at Ratisbon
(55), by a specialization of labor, analogous to the process in more
modern times?

4. Explain the mediaeval belief in the effectiveness to protect books from
theft of such anathemas as are reproduced in 58.

5. What do the selections from Bede (59 a-c) indicate as to the
preservation of the old learning in the cities of southern Italy? What as
to the condition of learning and teaching in England in Bede's day?

6. What is the status of education indicated by the selections from
Alcuin, on the cathedral school at York (60) and the palace school
instruction of Pepin (62)?

7. What was the condition of learning among the higher clergy and monks as
shown by Charlemagne's proclamations (64)?

8. What was the extent of the destruction wrought by the Danes in England,
as indicated by King Alfred's Introduction to Pope Gregory's _Pastoral
Care_ (66), and his efforts to obtain scholars from abroad (67)?

9. What was the character of the education King Alfred provided for his
son (68)?

10. Study out the plan of the monastery of Saint Gall (69), and enumerate
the various activities of such a center.


* Adams, G. B. _Civilization during the Middle Ages_.
* Clark, J. W. _Libraries in the Medieval and Renaissance Period_.
* Cutts, Edw. L. _Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages_.
* Eckenstein, Lina. _Women under Monasticism_.
Leach, A. F. _The Schools of Mediaeval England_.
Munro, D. C. and Sellery, G. E. _Medieval Civilization_.
Montalembert, Count de. _The Monks of the West_.
Taylor, H. O. _Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages_.
Thorndike, Lynn. _History of Mediaeval Europe_.
West, A. F. _Alcuin, and the Rise of Christian Schools_.
* Wishart, A. W. _Short History of Monks and Monasticism_.




1. _Elementary instruction and schools_

MONASTIC AND CONVENTIONAL SCHOOLS. In the preceding chapters we found
that, by the tenth century, the monasteries had developed both inner
monastic schools for those intending to take the vows (oblati), and outer
monastic schools for those not so intending (externi). The distinction in
name was due to the fact that the _oblati_ were from the first considered
as belonging to the brotherhood, participating in the religious services
and helping the monks at their work. The others were not so admitted, and
in all monasteries of any size a separate building, outside the main
portion of the monastery (see Figure 38), was provided for the outer
school. A similar classification of instruction had been evolved for the

(After an old wood engraving)]

The instruction in the inner school was meager, and in the outer school
probably even more so. Reading, writing, music, simple reckoning,
religious observances, and rules of conduct constituted the range of
instruction. Reading was taught by the alphabet method, as among the
Romans, and writing by the use of wax tablets and the stylus. Much
attention was given to Latin pronunciation, as had been the practice at
Rome. As Latin by this time had practically ceased to be a living tongue,
outside the Church and perhaps in Central Italy, the difficulties of
instruction were largely increased. The Psalter, or book of Latin psalms,
was the first reading book, and this was memorized rather than read. Copy-
books, usually wax, with copies expressing some scriptural injunction,
were used. Music, being of so much importance in the church services,
received much time and attention. In arithmetic, counting and finger
reckoning, after the Roman plan, was taught. Latin was used in
conversation as much as possible, some of the old lesson books much
resembling conversation books of to-day in the modern languages (R. 75).
Special attention seems to have been given to teaching rules of conduct to
the _oblati_, [1] and much corporal punishment was used to facilitate
learning. Up to the eleventh century this instruction, meager as it was,
constituted the whole of the preparatory training necessary for the study
of theology and a career in the Church. In the convents similar schools
were developed, though, as stated in the last chapter, much more attention
was given to the education of those not intending to take the vows.

SONG AND PARISH SCHOOLS. In the cathedral churches, and other larger non-
cathedral churches, the musical part of the service was very important,
and to secure boys for the choir and for other church services these
churches organized what came to be known as _song schools_ (R. 70). In
these a number of promising boys were trained in the same studies and in
much the same way as were boys in the monastery schools, except that much
more attention was given to the musical instruction. The students in these
schools were placed under the _precentor_ (choir director) of the
cathedral, or other large church, the _scholasticus_ confining his
attention to the higher or more literary instruction provided. The boys
usually were given board, lodging, and instruction in return for their
services as choristers. As the parish churches in the diocese also came to
need boys for their services, parish schools of a similar nature were in
time organized in connection with them. It was out of this need, and by a
very slow and gradual evolution, that the parish school in western Europe
was developed later on.

CHANTRY SCHOOLS. Still another type of elementary school, which did not
arise until near the latter part of the period under consideration in this
chapter, but which will be enumerated here as descriptive of a type which
later became very common, came through wills, and the schools came to be
known as _chantry schools_, or _stipendary schools_. Men, in dying, who
felt themselves particularly in need of assistance for their misdeeds on
earth, would leave a sum of money to a church to endow a priest, or
sometimes two, who were to chant masses each day for the repose of their
souls. Sometimes the property was left to endow a priest to say mass in
honor of some special saint, and frequently of the Virgin Mary. As such
priests usually felt the need for some other occupation, some of them
began voluntarily to teach the elements of religion and learning to
selected boys, and in time it became common for those leaving money for
the prayers to stipulate in the will that the priest should also teach a
school. Usually a very elementary type of school was provided, where the
children were taught to know the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Salutation
to the Virgin, certain psalms, to sign themselves rightly with the sign of
the cross, and perhaps to read and write (Latin). Sometimes, on the
contrary, and especially was this the case later on in England, a grammar
school was ordered maintained. After the twelfth century this type of
foundation (R. 73) became quite common.

2. _Advanced instruction_

CATHEDRAL AND HIGHER MONASTIC SCHOOLS. As the song schools developed the
cathedral schools were of course freed from the necessity of teaching
reading and writing, and could then develop more advanced instruction.
This they did, as did many of the monasteries, and to these advanced
schools those who felt the need for more training went. As grammar was,
throughout all the early part of the Middle Ages, the first and most
important subject of instruction, the advanced schools came to be known as
_grammar schools_, as well as cathedral or episcopal schools (R. 72). The
cathedral churches and monasteries of England and France early became
celebrated for the high character of their instruction (R. 71) and the
type of scholars they produced. All these schools, though, suffered a
serious set-back during the period of the Danish and Norman invasions,
many being totally destroyed. On the continent, due to the greater deluge
of barbarism and the more unsettled condition of society, more difficulty
was experienced in getting cathedral schools established, as the following
decree of the Lateran Church Council of 826 indicates:

Complaints have been made that in some places no masters nor
endowment for a grammar school is found. Therefore all bishops shall
bestow all care and diligence, both for their subjects and for other
places in which it shall be found necessary, to establish masters and
teachers who shall assiduously teach grammar schools and the
principles of the liberal arts, because in these chiefly the
commandments of God are manifest and declared.

These two types of advanced schools--the cathedral or episcopal and the
monastic--formed what might be called the secondary-school system of the
early Middle Ages (Rs. 70, 71). They were for at least six hundred years
the only advanced teaching institutions in western Europe, and out of one
or the other of these two types of advanced schools came practically all
those who attained to leadership in the service of the Church in either of
its two great branches. Still more, out of the impetus given to advanced
study by the more important of these schools, the universities of a later
period developed; and numerous private gifts of lands and money were made
to establish grammar schools to supplement the work done by the cathedral
and other large church schools.

THE SEVEN LIBERAL ARTS. The advanced studies which were offered in the
more important monastery and cathedral schools comprised what came to be
known as _The Seven Liberal Arts_ [2] of the Middle Ages. The knowledge
contained in these studies, taught as the advanced instruction of the
period, represents the amount of secular learning which was intentionally
preserved by the Church from neglect and destruction during the period of
the barbarian deluges and the reconstruction of society.

These Seven Liberal Arts were comprised of two divisions, known as:

(1) Grammar;
(2) Rhetoric;
(3) Dialectic (Logic).

(4) Arithmetic;
(5) Geometry;
(6) Astronomy;
(7) Music.

Allegorical representation of the progress and degrees of education, from
an illuminated picture in the 1508 (Basel) edition of the _Margarita
Philosophica_ of Gregory de Reisch.

The youth, having mastered the Hornbook (ABC's) and the rudiments of
learning (reading, writing, and the beginnings of music and numbers),
advances toward the temple of knowledge. Wisdom is about to place the key
in the lock of the door of the temple. On the door is written the word
_congruitas_, signifying Grammar. ("Gramaire first hath for to teche to
speke upon congruite.") On the first and second floors of the temple he
studies the Grammar of Donatus, and of Priscian, and at the first stage at
the left on the third floor he studies the Logic of Aristotle, followed by
the Rhetoric and Poetry of Tully, thus completing the _Trivium_. The
Arithmetic of Boethius also appears on the third floor. On the fourth
floor he completes the studies of the _Quadrivium_, taking in order the
Music of Pythagoras, Euclid's Geometry, and Ptolemy's Astronomy. The
student now advances to the study of Philosophy, studying successively
Physics, Seneca's Morals, and the Theology (or Metaphysics) of Peter
Lombard, the last being the goal toward which all has been directed.]

Beyond these came Ethics or Metaphysics, and the greatest of all studies,
Theology. This last represented the one professional study of the early
middle-age period, and was the goal toward which all the preceding studies
had tended. This mediaeval system of education is well summarized in the
drawing given on the opposite page, taken from an illuminated picture
inserted in a famous mediaeval manuscript, recopied at Basle, Switzerland,
in 1508.

Not all these studies were taught in every monastery or cathedral school.
Many of the lesser monasteries and schools offered instruction chiefly in
grammar, and only a little of the studies beyond. Others emphasized the
Trivium, and taught perhaps only a little of the second group. Only a few
taught the full range of mediaeval learning, and these were regarded as
the great schools of the times (R. 71).

Rhabanus Maurus (776-865), one of the greatest minds of the Middle Ages,
Abbot for years at Fulda, and a mediaeval textbook writer of importance,
has left us a good description of each of the Seven Liberal Arts studies
as they were developed in his day, and their use in the Christian scheme
of education (R. 74).


Of the three studies forming the _Trivium_, grammar always came first as
the basal subject. No uniformity existed for the other two.

1. GRAMMAR. The foundation and source of all the Liberal Arts was grammar,
it being, according to Maurus, "the science which teaches us to explain
the poets and historians, and the art which qualifies us to speak and
write correctly" (R. 74 a). In the introduction to an improved Latin
grammar, [3] published about 1119, grammar is defined as "The doorkeeper
of all the other sciences, the apt expurgatrix of the stammering tongue,
the servant of logic, the mistress of rhetoric, the interpreter of
theology, the relief of medicine, and the praiseworthy foundation of the
whole quadrivium." Figure 45, from one of the earliest books printed in
English, also emphasizes the great importance of grammar with the words:
"Wythout whiche science (s)ycherly alle other sciences in especial ben of
lytyl recomme(d)." In addition to grammar in the sense we know the study
to-day, grammar in the old Roman and mediaeval mind also included much of
what we know as the analytical side of the study of literature, such as
comparison, analysis, versification, prosody, word formations, figures of
speech, and vocal expression (R. 76). These were considered necessary to
enable one to read understandingly the Holy Scriptures, and hence, "though
the art be secular," says Maurus, "it has nothing unworthy about it."

(After a woodcut printed by Caxton in _The Mirror of the World_, 1481 (?).
From Blades' _Life and Typography of William Caxton_, ii, Plate LVI)

This is a good example of early English printing. Can you read it? This
"Old English," like the German type (see Fig. 26), shows the change in
Latin letters which came about with the copying of manuscripts during the
Middle Ages. After the invention of printing the English soon returned to
the Latin forms; the Germans are only now doing so.]

The leading textbook was that of Donatus, [4] written in the fourth
century, and Donatus (_donat_) and grammar came to be synonymous terms.
The text by Priscian, [5] written in the sixth century, was also
extensively used. The treatment in each was catechetical in form; that is,
questions and answers, which were learned. The text was of course in
Latin, and the teacher usually had the only copy, so that the pupils had
to learn from memory or copy from dictation. The cost of writing-material
usually precluded the latter method. After sufficient ability in grammar
had been attained, simple reading exercises or colloquies (R. 75), usually
of a religious or moralizing nature, were introduced, though where
permitted the Latin authors, especially Vergil, [6] were read. At Saint
Gall, in Switzerland, and at some other places, many Latin authors were
read; at Tours, on the other hand, we find the learned Abbot Alcuin saying
to the monks: "The sacred poets are sufficient for you; there is no reason
why you should sully your mind with the rank luxuriance of Vergil's

2. RHETORIC. Rhetoric, as defined by Maurus, was "the art of using secular
discourse effectively in the circumstances of daily life," and enabling
the preacher or missionary to put the divine message in eloquent and
impressive language (R. 74 b). Much of the old Roman rhetoric had been
taken over by grammar, but in its place was added a certain amount of
letter and legal documentary writing. The priest, it must be remembered,
became the secretary and lawyer of the Middle Ages, as well as the priest,
and upon him devolved the preparation of most of the legal papers of the
time, such as wills, deeds, proclamations, and other formal documents.
Accordingly the art of letter-writing [7] and the preparation of legal
documents were made a part of the study of rhetoric, and some study of
both the civil ("worldly") and canon (church) law was gradually

3. DIALECTIC. Dialectic, or logic, says Maurus, is the science of
understanding, and hence the science of sciences (R. 74 c). By means of
its aid one was enabled to unmask falsehood, expose error, formulate
argument, and draw conclusions accurately. The study was one of
preparation for ethics and theology later on. Extracts from the works of
Aristotle, prepared by Boethius, and later his complete works, constituted
the texts used. While grammar was the great subject of the seven during
all the early Middle Ages, dialectic later came to take its place. After
the rise of the universities and the organization of schools of theology,
with theology more of a rational science and less a matter of dogma,
dialectic came to hold first place in importance as a preparation for the
disputations of the later Middle Ages. Theological questions formed the
practical exercises, and the schools doing most in dialectic attracted
many students because of this.

These three studies, constituting the _Trivium_, based as they were
directly on the old Roman learning and schools, contained more that was
within the teaching knowledge of the time than did the subjects of the
_Quadrivium_, and also subject-matter which was much more in demand.


The _trivial_ studies, in most cases before the thirteenth century,
sufficed to prepare for the study of theology, though those few who
desired to prepare thoroughly also studied the subjects of the
_quadrivium_. In schools not offering instruction in this advanced group
some of the elements of its four studies were often taught from the
textbooks in use for the _Trivium_. Particularly was this the case during
the early Middle Ages, when the knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, and
astronomy possessed by western Europe was exceedingly small. No regular
order in the study of the subjects of this group was followed.

4. ARITHMETIC. Naturally little could be done in this subject as long as
the Roman system of notation was in use (see footnote, i, p. 64), and the
Arabic notation was not known in western Christian Europe until the
beginning of the thirteenth century, and was not much used for two or
three centuries later. So far as arithmetic was taught before that time,
it was but little in advance of that given to novitiates in the
monasteries, except that much attention was devoted to an absurd study of
the properties of numbers, [8] and to the uses of arithmetic in
determining church days, calculating the date of Easter, and interpreting
passages in the Scriptures involving measurements (R. 74 d). The textbook
by Rhabanus Maurus _On Reckoning_, issued in 820, is largely in dialogue
(catechetical) form, and is devoted to describing the properties of
numbers, "odd, even, perfect, imperfect, composite, plane, solid,
cardinal, ordinal, adverbial, distributive, multiple, denunciative, etc.";
to pointing out the scriptural significance of number; [9] and to an
elaborate explanation of finger reckoning, after the old Roman plan (see
p. 65). Near the end of the tenth century Gerbert, [10] afterwards Pope
Sylvester II, devised a simple abacus-form for expressing numbers, simple
enough in itself, but regarded as wonderful in its day. This greatly
simplified calculation, and made work with large numbers possible. He also
devised an easier form for large divisions.

Gerbert's form for expressing numbers may be shown from the following
simple sum in addition:

_Arabic Form_ _Roman Form_ _Gerbert's Form_
_M C X I_

----- --------- -------------------

No study of arithmetic of importance was possible, however, until the
introduction of Arabic notation and the use of the zero.

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