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deed retain the word from monastic schools and institutions, and as almost all our buildings, so the very words, and habits, used in our colleges, are of monkish origin: and though we now consider universities as literary institutions, they were formerly considered as ecclesiastical, and they derive all their peculiar language from religious houses.
Without pretending to fix the precise time when this word university was first applied to these learned institutions, and without referring to our fictitious charters, in which this word appears too prominent and glaring, I shall only say, we find it in the records, where our first authentic charters begin, in the reign of Henry III.; and that it occurs in ancient writers much sooner. Who so applied it first is no object in our inquiry; nor, perhaps, would it be easy to ascertain.
As to the beginning then of our university history, as both Leland and Sir Simon D’Ewes seem disposed to set out from Sigebert, we cannot do better than set out from him too. For thus we shall go hand in hand with both Oxford and Cambridge antiquaries; we shall begin with a king as our patron; we shall have clerics as our guides; and what can a Cambridge man wish for more?
It is said, then, that Sigebert, on his return from Gaul, formed a plan, from what he saw there, for his school; and we suppose, it being most probable, that this school was at Cambridge, though this is not asserted by Bede. In addition then to what has already been observed of Sigebert, it may be further said to those prepared to receive him as the founder of our original schola, that Sigebert was raised to the supreme authority over the East Angles among whom Cambridge lay, A. C. 630, and as he succeeded Eardwold he was the sixth king of the East Angles. He only reigned two, or, at most,
three years, when, resigning the ensigns of royalty, he became a monk.
It is mentioned, by the Assertor of the Antiquity of the University of Oxford, from the Archives of University College, though of what date or authority he leaves unnoticed that Alfred endowed Oxford Academia with no lands, but paid it a certain annual sum of money for a large number of students; and that so it was supported by the Saxon kings, and that the first purchase of lands was made by money left them by Henry III. This is probably near the truth, with respect to both these ancient institutions : for Henry gave both of them charters, and in nearly the same terms. In Doomsday Book there is a distinct and minute account of the possessions of land of each person and religious house in Cambridgeshire; and in the Saxon Chronicle, the form of conveying great possessions to the church, in different counties; but the name of neither university appears in these records.
Though our history professes to be only that of the University, yet the town and schools, in these early times, were so similar in their fortunes, that they cannot be well considered apart: and we are furnished with few or no materials for regular academical history. For the town, as being one of the most distinguished in Britain, had been liable, in early times, and in distinct periods, to experience great commotions, and to undergo a variety of changes. Very early, when it became Christian, it felt the effects of the Dioclesian and Maximilian persecutions. Then followed the ravages of the Danes and Saxons : the most entire is said to have been that of Swayn, King of Denmark, about 1010, when terrible devastations were made among the East Angles, in whose
kingdom Gransburgh or Cambridge lay. And in all these reverses of fortune the Monks and Scholastics had their full share.
When William the Conqueror had greatly subjected England, he still met with much resistance in these parts, more particularly from the monks of Ely. He retired for a time to the Castle (Cambridgeshire being then the seat of war), and the Ely monks being subdued, he repaired, or rebuilt it. But we may be sure, , that till he had subdued the spirit of the place, he would give no support to its literature.
I say repaired or rebuilt the castle; because Cairgrant being one of the most distinguished towns in Britain, had a castle, as the name imports, and as other British towns so characterized possessed from time immemorial. But William's object being to keep down the monks of Ely, and all the monks in Grentabrige, enlarged and more strongly fortified this castle. There were at the time 387 houses in the town, of which he destroyed 27, in order to take wider compass for his castle.
Cambridge was in the king's hands, and rated as in Doomsday Book, till Henry I.'s time, the sheriff answering for the annual profits to his Exchequer: but Henry, at the townsmen's desire, granted it in fee-farm to his Burgesses of Cambridge (though as yet they were not Mayor, Bailiffs, and Aldermen), who held it of him in chief; and who, therefore, paid into his exchequer the same, as the sheriff used to do; and for this Henry I. gave them a charter b: he also gave them
a See it in Bloomfield's Collectanea, p. 221,
other privileges. King John granted them a merchants guild, and they became a corporation by charter, which charters were confirmed and enlarged by Henry III. and Edward I.
With respect to Henry I. who was the youngest son of William the Conqueror, and who bestowed so much regard on this town, we presume he had strong predilections for the place, he having, it is said, been educated at Cambridge, and for his literary attainments was entitled Beau-clerc. Dr. Fuller says, that out of gratitude, he endowed it with several readers of languages. And to this circumstance Leland's lines allude:
Quid quod Granta novem dicata musis,
Though Dr. Fuller thinks, that primarily they alluded to Beau-clerc junior, as he calls Henry VIII. But though Henry I. bestowed a charter on the town, there is no mention that he bestowed any on the university; and beside the charter just alluded to, he ordained, by another charter, that no vessel should unlade nor pay toll for its goods any where but in Cambridge. But it was not till 1231, (under Henry III.) that the government of the town took the name of mayor, aldermen, and bailiffs. •
In these early times religious houses were very numerous in the town: as to the students in the university, they did not live in colleges, as now, but in private houses, as they still do in Germany and Italy. These, at first, were most of them hired of the townsmen, and the rent fixed by censors, or arbitrators, called taxers, taxatores, two of whom were scholars, and two of the town. These houses were called halls, hostles, or inns, hospitia studiosorum : principals were the persons presiding in them; the magistri were the tutors, and all the rest were scholares, scholars or students: the chancellor, who was only pro tempore, and a residing member of the university, was called rector.
• An. 1201, H. MS.
b An. 1381. “ For an outrage done to the university the town lost all their charters; and to have them again, consented to pay the crown 105 marks, or £10. per annum for ever.” Dr. Parris MS, note on 4th vol. of H. MS.
An. Reg. 52. Lit. Patentes, &c. H. M.
These halls and hostles were also numerous, and for reasons hereafter assigned, far more crowded, than our present colleges, with students. The principal houses were those of St. Mary, St. Barnard, St. Thomas, and St. Augustine, assigned to Artists, who studied the liberal arts; and St. Paulinus, St. Nicholas, St. Clement, and Hovens, to Jurists, or students of the civil and canon law. The names, and changes of them all, as they afterwards became appendages to colleges, may be seen in Dr. Caius, and Archbishop Parker.
Several of these houses were, at length, deserted and sunk into decay; others, being purchased in succession by patrons of literature, and obtaining incorporation, with right of mortmain, became permanent rich endowments, of which more in the proper placés.
: Mr. Baker in his MS. Hist. of St. John's College, observes, that the first time he reads of a chancellor of the university, is in 1246. It does occur then; but it also occurs sixteen years before, 15 Hen. III, H. MS. When it was first given, I know not, perhaps about this time.
b Hist. Cant. l. 1, p. 46.