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The Faculty of Arts in Medieval Universities

Universities are a specifically European institution. The first universities took shape some 800 years ago. A French/Dutch research programme has taken a close look at Arts Faculties in particular.

The first universities were born around 1200 in Bologna and Paris. Soon after, a number of other universities arose (Oxford, Prague, Louvain, etc.) often in imitation of the first great models. A university generally comprised several faculties, at most four: arts, theology, law, and medicine. European medieval universities were closely tied to one another due to the great mobility on the part of scholars, works, and ideas, which in turn was due in part to the linguistic unity (medieval Latin) of the period as well as to the unity of teaching methods and programmes. Pedagogical emphasis was placed on commenting and discussing texts such as Aristotle or The Bible.

Faculties of (Liberal) Arts offered preparatory courses: grammar, logic, philosophy and sciences. A joint research program focusing on the Arts Faculties of medieval universities, created in 1991 by the CNRS' Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes (IRHT) and the Constantijn Huygens Instituut (KNAW, The Hague), assembles a directory of the masters who taught at the Faculty of Arts in Paris and of the contemporary texts they used. This work reveals the European character of the University at this period; a large majority of the masters from this period who left works to posterity were of foreign origin (German, English, Danish, Dutch, Italian, and others).


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Olga Weijers
IRHT and Constantijn Huygens Instituut
E-mail: olga.weijers@chi.knaw.nl

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irht.cnrs

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