HIST 203 Lecture Outline (Fall 2020 – Week 12)

HIST 203


Week 12: Tuesday

Formal Education


Medieval helpdesk (Norwegian, with English subtitles, 2:46 min.):

Falconry (5:45 min.):

Speaking Latin at Princeton University, 2019 (4:48 min.):

Seven videos on making medieval manuscripts:


Riché, pp.  74-76 (aristocratic training), 191-7 (clerical training), 203-29 (education and learning)

Walafrid Strabo, Hortulus (My Little Garden): The Gourd

Aristocratic education stressed:

Use of weapons (males only): lancebow, sword, and shield: click here for a fresco of a nobleman from church of St. Benedict at Malles, and depiction of David vs. Goliath, from the Stuttgart Psalter, made at St.-Germain-des-Prés, c. 830)
Hunting with dogs or falcons
Literacy and religious instruction (see Anglo-Saxon inscription in Codex Aureus, redeemed from Vikings); sometimes the 7 liberal arts (click here to see an image of a woman (?”Grammar”) holding a hornbook from a 10th-cent. copy of  Martianus Capella’s 5th-cent. Marriage of Mercury and Philosophy)

Basic education for parish clergy stressed:

Memorization of the Latin liturgy for the Mass, and of the rituals for sacraments (baptism, penance, Eucharist, marriage, extreme unction)
Ability to give homilies, generally by reading them from a standard collection
Knowledge of standard penances recommended by a penitential (manual of penances)
Knowledge of the dates of the various saints’ days and other holy days

Clerical education of the highest kind stressed:

Latin, calendrical computing, liturgy, the Roman chant, the Bible, and patristic writings
Good handwriting (especially in monasteries with a scriptorium); click here to see the nearly 400 early medieval manuscripts of the library of St. Gall

The seven liberal arts (taught to elite students at the great monastic and palace schools):

Trivium (“threefold path” to knowledge): Grammar, logic, and rhetoric (or dialectic)
Quadrivium (“fourfold path” to knowledge): Arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music

Formal medical education was based on Greco-Roman humoral theory, stressing the need to maintain a balance of the 4 humors:
Blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile

Study materials (click here for an image of a scribe writing):

Wax tablets containing the municipal accounts of Torun (Poland), 13th-16th cent.
Figure of “Rhetoric,” holding wax tablets and stylus 
Leaf from a wax tablet with Greek text, from Roman Egypt   (Writing Exercise. British Library, Add. MS. 34186(I). Leaf 1 of a two-leaved wooden tablet filled with wax. The writing master has set out two gnomai to be copied by the pupil, and has ruled four sets of parallel lines as guides. Such ruled guide-lines are often found in writing exercises, including the exercises of calligraphers. 160 x 178 mm. (wax 211 x 128 mm.). Egypt, 2nd cent. AD.) [According to my late colleague Bob Ross, the Greek exercise in this case is two lines of iambic verse by Menander, written out on top by the teacher, and copied twice below by the student.  It begins: “sophou par’ andros . . .” and means: “You must accept the advice of a wise man, do not trust all your friends.”]  The second leaf of the tablet contains a multiplication table.
Metal and bone styli 
Quill and reed pen
Parchment (page from the Utrecht Psalter, written c. 820-835 for Archbishop Ebbo of Reims at the nearby abbey of Hautvillers). Parchment seller. Click here to see a palimpsest, in which a 10th-cent. text of Archimedes was scraped and overwritten with a liturgical manuscript in the 12th cent.
Glossaries  (such as the “Corpus Glossary,” a Latin-Anglo-Saxon word-list, in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 144)

[Here is some material from Week 7 that was reiterated in the reading for today:]

Some achievements of the “Carolingian Renaissance” (later 700s-800s):

Capitulary of 789 mandated schools in every cathedral and monastery to teach students and to correct and copy texts (more than 90% of extant Classical Roman texts owe their survival to Carolingian copyists)
Every monastery required to follow Benedictine Rule (reiterated 817-840, with expanded Rule)
Accurate new edition of Latin Bible produced by Alcuin of York (d. 804)
New, clear script developed called “Caroline minuscule“ (see example from the Stuttgart Psalterc. 820)
History of the Lombards and book of model sermons written by Paul the Deacon (d. 799)
Encyclopedia and handbook on clerical instruction written by Rabanus Maurus, abbot of Fulda (d. 856)
Neo-Platonic texts translated (from Greek) and written by John Scotus Eriugena (d. 877)
Lives of saints written by Walafrid Strabo, scholar, poet, and gardener, tutor to Charles the
Bald, and abbot of Reichenau (d. 849)


Popular Religion

MISERICORDS (“mercies”):

in choir stalls
as small monastic dining room where meat could be eaten (meat was forbidden in the refectory)


Lourdes: A Pilgrimage Introduction (12:28 min,; begin at 3:00):

The Abbey Church of Sainte Foy de Conques (24:37 min.):


Riché, pp. 181-90 (paganism, magic, astrology, marvels), 197-202 (popular religious instruction), 242-5 (prayer associations), 273-88 (relics and  pilgrimage)

Allen J. Frantzen, Anglo-Saxon Penitentials – A Cultural Database: penances recommended by Anglo-Saxon books of penance (penitentials) for pagan and superstitious practices


Pagan rituals condemned by Carolingian rulers and clergy included:

Worship of sacred trees, groves, and springs
Sacrifices in honor of pagan gods (e.g., Odin)
Cremation of the dead
Celebration of pagan festivals (e.g., commemorating winter and summer solstices)
Superstitions concerning natural occurrences (e.g., sneezing; appearance or behavior of certain birds or animals)
Identifying days as auspicious or inauspicious for certain activities (e.g., marrying on Venus’s day, Friday)
Consulting sorcerers, dream interpreters, fortune tellers, diviners, and other practitioners of magical arts
Using charms, incantations, and magical amulets

Widespread interest in, and interpretations of:

Astrologicalastronomical, and meteorological phenomena
Prodigies, visitations, and visions

Carolingian capitularies emphasize:

Religious instruction
Preaching by clergy

Some major features of popular religion:

Prayer associations (confraternities)to aid sick or dying members, and to pray for dead members
Cults of saints and relics
Pilgrimage to regional shrines and to Rome and the Holy Land