The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


CHAPTER TWO: Wyclif Expands Exposition of Little Horn

I. The Founding of the Universities

The university came into being in the medieval age. The thirst for knowledge, with students wandering over Europe in search of capable teachers, formed the setting and created the demand. 1 Bologna, at the crossroads of northern Italy, became a university center for the study of law about 1100; two centuries later, faculties for the arts, medicine, and theology were added. 2 PFF2 44.1

The University of Paris came into being about 1200, like wise with faculties for the arts, theology, law, and medicine. Paris in turn became the model for the universities of Northern Europe-Oxford, about 1200; Cambridge, a little later; Prague, in Bohemia, in 1347; and Heidelberg, the first German university, in 1386. 3 By 1300 there were some fourteen universities scattered through Italy, Spain, France, and England. 4 PFF2 44.2

The need for social control and cheap lodging created the college, the University of Paris founding the first college in 1209. Others followed. At first these were merely dormitories, where students could live inexpensively under supervision. Later, masters were assigned to live with the students and to help them prepare for their examinations 5 PFF2 44.3

The Catholic Church did not create the first universities, but it quickly realized that they were ideal for regulating the conduct of students, as well as controlling the content of books and the doctrine of teachers. Thus the universities became the instruments through which the church controlled education and research. The popes aided the foundation of new universities. They gave high offices to university professors, and assisted poor students in their efforts to obtain an education. Thus they secured almost complete orthodoxy among schoolmen. The scholars who taught in the universities succeeded in reconciling the new knowledge with the doctrines of the church. The faculties watched zealously for signs of heresy in books and lectures 6 Thus the universities came to play an increasingly important role in the coming conflict. PFF2 45.1