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Old May 10th, 2012, 09:54 PM   #1

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Beginnings of Secular Education in Europe?


I'm wondering when the first secular academic universities or academies started springing up in Europe.
I'm reading a book about the Age of Enlightenment in France and it makes it sound as if secular education even during the 1700s was rare.
I had thought that it started a long time before that, but maybe I was wrong.
Anyone know which were the first secular institutions to appear?

Also does anybody have any insight as to whether or not the Church actively opposed these new institutions, and if so, what did they do to hinder their progress?
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Old May 11th, 2012, 01:06 AM   #2

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In France, the law of Separation of State and Church was voted in 1905.
Public Education really took off from there and the Church no longer had the monopoly in education.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 01:10 AM   #3

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This might come across as a very American point of view... but that seems incredibly late to be the beginning of non-religious education... What about England? Oxford and the most of the older British universities are not religiously affiliated are they? When did those start to pop up?
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Old May 11th, 2012, 05:00 AM   #4

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There are generally three types of university founded in the Middle Ages.

The first would be those which grew particularly out of church and monastic schools, founded by and paid for by the church itself. Paris, dominated the field and study of theology would be such a university.

The second group would be those which were, if not founded by the crown and rulers of the realm, was certainly heavily endorsed by them, partly for a need to provide trained clerks and officails to work in t he offices of government as those governmental systems and bureaucracies developed. Oxford and Cambridge would be such examples, with heavy ties to the English crown. Naples created by Frederick II would be another.

The third kind of university were ones where the students and masters congregated by themselves to form a corporation so as to carry out teaching, study and research. Those who ran the university were in effect hired and paid for by the students who attended it themseleves. Bologna with its focus upon law and legal matters would be such an example, as would Padua.

The first group would be heavily, if not entirely, influenced by the church and eccelsiastical matters, where as the latter two could vary considerably. Places such as Oxford and Naples, while perhaps having a modicum of ecclesiastical involvement and influence, because of their nature and connections would have a distinctly more secualr tendency than those of the first group. The third group such a Bologna could be considerably secualr, since their origin lay with the community rather than the church itself. That of course would be dependent upon the subject of study at such a university though, not going to be very secualr in a theological focused university, as well as the universities own connections and standing with the church.

Some roots of secualr education may therefore be found in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Last edited by DreamWeaver; May 11th, 2012 at 05:06 AM.
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Old May 11th, 2012, 06:48 PM   #5

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Thank you DreamWeaver, that really cleared things up for me.
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Old May 12th, 2012, 02:12 AM   #6

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Several kings had developed their own schools to train their administrators, it may have started as early as the Carolingians.
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Old May 13th, 2012, 07:48 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by maharbbal View Post
Several kings had developed their own schools to train their administrators, it may have started as early as the Carolingians.
I would say under Frederick II of Sicily. In fact, he banned theological studies at the University of Naples and wasn't much interested in Roman law. The church declared him a heretic since he took such a fancy to Arab science. Its hard to say if "secular" knowledge trended as a result. But the Church put up quite a bit of resistance well into the Early Modern Period.
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Old May 14th, 2012, 11:19 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacific_Victory View Post
I'm wondering when the first secular academic universities or academies started springing up in Europe.
I'm reading a book about the Age of Enlightenment in France and it makes it sound as if secular education even during the 1700s was rare.
I had thought that it started a long time before that, but maybe I was wrong.
Anyone know which were the first secular institutions to appear?

Also does anybody have any insight as to whether or not the Church actively opposed these new institutions, and if so, what did they do to hinder their progress?
It depends on what you mean by secular universities. The term Church I presume you are refering to the Roman Catholic Church? I don't know of any Protestant churches that would oppose education but then again the term Protestant has come to cover many different churches of whom some may have opposed education.

In the North American colonies and then as the colonies gained independance and built the country, the bible and other bible liturature was a big part of secular knowledge and they(the churches) were not opposed to education. They understood that all sound knowledge and learning was to be built on a foundation in Christ.

Harvard Law school is a secular college, but it's motto is "veritas christo et ecclesiae"....Truth for Christ and the Church.

The level of education of any country or place is going to vary by time period, whether parents were responsible or a church(religious institution, govenment school), or the overall wealth and prosperity of the country or place. Lots of variables.

I would say that religion in general through history has been resonsible for most basic education(reading, writing, and arithmetic).
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Old May 14th, 2012, 01:07 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kampfringen View Post
It depends on what you mean by secular universities. The term Church I presume you are refering to the Roman Catholic Church? I don't know of any Protestant churches that would oppose education but then again the term Protestant has come to cover many different churches of whom some may have opposed education.

In the North American colonies and then as the colonies gained independance and built the country, the bible and other bible liturature was a big part of secular knowledge and they(the churches) were not opposed to education. They understood that all sound knowledge and learning was to be built on a foundation in Christ.

Harvard Law school is a secular college, but it's motto is "veritas christo et ecclesiae"....Truth for Christ and the Church.

The level of education of any country or place is going to vary by time period, whether parents were responsible or a church(religious institution, govenment school), or the overall wealth and prosperity of the country or place. Lots of variables.

I would say that religion in general through history has been resonsible for most basic education(reading, writing, and arithmetic).
Sorry I wasn't more clear, I was indeed referring to the Roman Catholic Church. By secular universities, I meant universities who weren't forcing a particular religion or denomination on it's students, weren't trying 'educate' people into a certain religious order (such as the Jesuits) and weren't basing the acceptance or rejection of potential students on their religious preference.
By that definition, I would certainly classify Harvard and Harvard law as a secular university, despite the motto.
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Old May 14th, 2012, 01:09 PM   #10

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Originally Posted by jehosafats View Post
I would say under Frederick II of Sicily. In fact, he banned theological studies at the University of Naples and wasn't much interested in Roman law. The church declared him a heretic since he took such a fancy to Arab science. Its hard to say if "secular" knowledge trended as a result. But the Church put up quite a bit of resistance well into the Early Modern Period.
Do you know around what year this was? Do you know what sort of scientific knowledge he was getting from the Arabs?
Thanks
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