Europe's Educational History


In Medieval times European higher education took place in Cathedral or Monastic schools where the curriculum was designed, taught and administered by the religious authorities. Academic freedom was difficult to achieve, especially if a research project gave results which suggested that Church teachings were wrong. Perhaps some Universities morphed from such cathedral schools, Paris being one of these, but most were founded by Monarchs, such as the University of Naples, being established by Federico11, and the Jagiellonian (Krakow) University, which was founded in 1364 by Casimir 111 – the Great. The oldest University is the University of Bologna which was established in 1088.Again these institutions were not created to allow freedom of expression or independent academic thought, but those who sponsored them believed that the nation needed a class of educated people, especially lawyers who could codify the country’s laws, and administer the courts and offices.

It is questionable whether any real academic freedom ever existed in these institutions given the power of both the Church and the State, with neither wanting to be seen to be wrong in their understanding of either theology, or the Law.

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