Medieval Universities

Medieval Universities

Universities first appeared in the High Middle Ages across Europe, including Italy, France, Spain and England. The first university to arrive in England was in Oxford, constructed in the 11th Century, followed by Cambridge in the 13th Century. Both became known as the first models of higher education around the world.

Those studying at university would arrive at around 14 or 15 years of age and would choose between Theology, Law, Medicine or Arts. No space was dedicated to learning, and instead classes were taught wherever there was a room available, such as in churches. However, it didn’t take long for universities to begin renting rooms and constructing rooms of their own.

Meeting of doctors at the university o Paris
Meeting of doctors at the university o Paris

There is evidence that teaching began in Oxford in the late 11th Century, but it wasn’t until a quarrel between Henry II and Thomas Becket in 1167 when the university grew. During this time a temporary ban on English scholar studying in Paris meant higher learning was limited, so scholars turned to Oxford to continue their studies.

From this moment on universities in England Scotland started to establish their reputations. Cambridge University was established in 1209, while the University of St Andrews was built between 1210 and 1213.

Pope Gregory VII also helped universities grow elsewhere in Europe, beginning with the issuing of a papal decree in 1079 that mandated that cathedral schools should be created to educate the clergy.

This resulted in the spread of centres of learning around Europe, evolving quickly into Europe’s first medieval universities. Two of the most notable European centres include the University of Bologna, founded in 1088, and the University of Paris, which grew into a single centre in 1119.

See also:

Medieval Students

Medieval Education

Medieval Studies

Monastic Colleges

Medieval Colleges at Oxford

Medieval Colleges at Cambridge

Medieval Universities Index

MLA Citation/Reference

"Medieval Universities". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.