The Middle Ages: History of Universities, Part 1 – Flower of the Middle Ages (Episode #56)

Universities are unique — a quintessential product of the High Middle Ages that has miraculously survived and even flourished in the modern world. In the first part of the history of universities, we examine the origins of the first universities in the power struggles of Popes and emperors; the ways that medieval students learned, lived, and annoyed their elders; and the ways that universities adapted to and withstood serious challenges from Renaissance humanism and the republic of letters. Next will be the rise of universities in America, the modern research university, and the current crisis of academia.

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Also see The Middle Ages: History of Universities, Part 2 – A Crumbling Tower?

Image: “Master and Scholars,” illustration from “L’Image du Monde,” copybook by Gautier de Metz, 1464, in collection of British Library. Intro music: Domenico Scarlatti, Sonata in D minor, played on harpsichord by Wanda Landowska.

Suggested further reading: Walter Ruegg, ed., “A History of the University in Europe,” 4 vols.; William Clark, “Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University”; Olaf Pedersen, “The FIrst Universities.”

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