12. The Rise of the European University

"Universitas" simply stood for "teachers' guild." The university was mobile, since it owned no real estate. Founding dates of the major institutions are fuzzy. They emerged gradually and flourished with "high-level patronage from Popes, emperors, who offered protection, guaranteed privileges, granted immunity from local jurisdiction and taxation..." (Lindberg, 208)

Medieval universities "developed a common curriculum consisting of the same subjects taught from the same texts. This was partly a response to the sudden influx of Greek and Arabic learning through the translations of the 12th Century, which supplied European scholars with a standard collection of sources and a common set of problems." (Lindberg, 212)

A boy learned Latin in school and then entered a university at age fourteen. As a student in the university, he had the status and privileges of a clergyman, i.e. he was under the authority of the church. He studied under one master for three or four years and then took the exam for a bachelor's ("young man's") degree. Passing the exam gave him the status of "journeyman apprentice" and he could give limited types of lectures with the help of a master. At twenty-one he could take a master's exam. If he passed, he became a full member of the faculty with the "ius ubique docendi" or, "right of teaching everywhere." (Lindberg 209)

Many students dropped out for various reasons, and "substantial numbers died before completing their studies -- a reminder of the high mortality rates of the Middle Ages." (Lindberg 211)

Aristotle's system of logic became the approach to learning, while Greek and Arabic books provided the content. Christian theology was thrown into the whole mixture as well. The universities suffered very little interference from the church.