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Grammar Schools of Medieval England

Grammar Schools of Medieval England: A.F. Leach in Historiographical Perspective

Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Grammar Schools of Medieval England
    Book Description:

    Leach struggled to rid his countrymen of the persistent myth that the monks had been the schoolmasters of the pre-Reformation period in England. To accomplish his goal he embarked on a program of research and publication, based on a mass of hitherto unexplored documents, to establish the great antiquity of many of the nation's Latin schools and to show that they derived from clerical, but secular, colleges of Anglo-Saxon times. Showing this would, he hoped, eliminate the persistant belief that monks had been the school-masters of pre-Reformation England.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6152-6
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xx)

    • CHAPTER ONE Introductory Survey
      (pp. 3-33)

      The present study owes its origin to a longstanding interest in, and sense of indebtedness to, an energetic and controversial writer of the later nineteenth century, Arthur Francis Leach, an historian of education in England and especially of its medieval development.¹ In spite of the central position Leach held in one of the great educational controversies of his day – the place of England’s public schools in an increasingly democratic society – he has remained a virtually unknown figure, especially within the historical profession with which he would willingly have identified if given any encouragement. Foster Watson’s biographical notice in...

    • CHAPTER TWO Background to the Endowed Schools Act of 1869
      (pp. 34-59)

      Leach was born into a generation of great educational activity. During his formative years at Winchester and Oxford, Queen Victoria’s ministers took the first major steps to establish a system of national education. England was the last industrialized western nation to adopt such an educational program. Ever since Henry Brougham, an early advocate of reform and co-founder of theEdinburgh Reviewand the University of London, had attempted in 1820 to institute such a program in association with the established church, repeated attempts in this direction had invariably foundered on the irreconcilable differences between Anglicans and Nonconformists. Schools, therefore, continued...

    • CHAPTER THREE Leach as Assistant Charity Commissioner
      (pp. 60-84)

      Leach’s work as a charity commissioner consisted primarily of written reports submitted to his superiors in connection with a wide variety of schools with some grounds for financial consideration under the provisions of the Endowed Schools Act of 1869. A selection of these reports illustrates the process whereby Leach managed to channel a day-by-day occupation, stemming from a government appointment, into an extensive historical survey of the entire grammar school system. His publications were related to, but virtually independent of, the many contemporary issues that he and his fellow commissioners had to resolve.

      For this purpose, a relatively detailed treatment...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Analysis of “English Schools at the Reformation, 1546–48” and “The Schools of Medieval England”
      (pp. 85-104)

      Leach’s best-known books are separated by some twenty years.English Schools at the Reformation, 1546–48, which appeared in 1896, was the author’s first attempt to survey for the reading public his research into the schools of pre-Reformation England.The Schools of Medieval England, first published in 1915 and intended as a popular compendium of what was known about the subject, followed a remarkably sustained period of research and publication during the intervening years. It is useful to discuss these two works together.

      English Schools at the Reformationconsists of three parts. The first is a lengthy introductory essay in...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Secular Origins of England’s Schools
      (pp. 105-130)

      Visitations and Memorials of Southwell Minster, which appeared in 1891, was Leach’s first full-length study on the origins and main features of the early English grammar schools. Leach mentions that the later of the two pre-Reformation registers still extant, covering the period from 1469 to 1547, is important because it is “a very full record of the inner life of the place during those critical years.” Quite apart from its interest with respect to the persons actually involved in the life of the minster, the register affords a picture “of the whole manner of life and working of a collegiate...


    • CHAPTER SIX The Grammar Program: The Teaching of Latin
      (pp. 133-173)

      As the previous discussion has made evident, Leach’s contributions to the documentary study of England’s medieval grammar schools were of a decidedly institutional kind. He did not have the time or the opportunity to investigate what he evidently considered fascinating – the details of the daily curriculum for which the institutions were intended. Under the circumstances, therefore, it is not surprising that he should have assumed, whenever he alluded to the Latin program of the grammar school, that the program was primarily classical, at least to the extent that a few ancient authors, both pagan and Christian, constituted the basis...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Grammar Program: Related Topics
      (pp. 174-192)

      Included in the grammatical material previously examined are a number of treatises and notes pertaining to topics related to the learning of Latin. One of these is philosophical grammar. Though it is not certain to what extent this subject entered the grammar program, it appears to have engrossed the attention of several of the grammar masters. The inference is that, owing to the development of faculties of grammar in the universities of the thirteenth century, the scholastic method had in this later period filtered down into the advanced classes of the grammar schools. It is, of course, the method and...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Educational Institutions: The Religious Orders and the Diocesan Clergy
      (pp. 193-227)

      Having described the program of Latin grammar, it remains to consider the educational institutions for which this program was intended. It has been noted above that while some of the grammatical material was apparently intended expressly for clerks proceeding to holy orders or aspirants to the religious life, much of it is of a more general nature and was included in the curriculum of urban grammar schools. What characterizes the entire program is its predominantly clerical nature. One is left with the impression that most, if not all, grammar students shared in a common training, irrespective of the particular professions...

    • CHAPTER NINE Leach in his Historicgraphical Context: Contemporary Criticism and Recent Scholarship
      (pp. 228-263)

      Discussions and controversies with contemporary writers as well as those of earlier generations are one of the more interesting features of Leach’s research and publication on the schools of medieval England. After close to thirty years of single-minded pursuit of the subject, Leach explained the sorry state of educational history in England in his address to the British Academy in 1913:

      My researches have led me first to doubt, then to deny, and finally to disprove the authorized version, and to revise, recast, or perhaps rather to createde novothe history of English education, through that of the schools...

  8. CHAPTER TEN Conclusion
    (pp. 264-274)

    From Leach’s lifetime until the present, an element of controversy has attended his efforts to delineate the role of the grammar school in the social fabric of medieval England. It now remains, in light of the preceding pages, to present a final assessment of his strengths and weaknesses. This, in itself, may not completely remove the grounds for doubt that, in some quarters, still paralyzes serious effort to build upon his work, but it should help toward a better appreciation of his aims and achievements.

    It is clear, for instance, that Leach laid bare the essential features of the medieval...


    • APPENDIX ONE Charity Commission Report (in manuscript) on Chichester, 27 July 1886, by A.F. Leach
      (pp. 277-278)
    • APPENDIX TWO Latin Grammar
      (pp. 279-284)
    • APPENDIX THREE Dictamen
      (pp. 285-287)
    • APPENDIX FOUR Speculative Grammar
      (pp. 288-290)
    • APPENDIX FIVE William Chartham’s Speculum Parvulorum
      (pp. 291-292)
    • APPENDIX SIX Educational Documents
      (pp. 293-294)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 295-332)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 333-348)
  12. Index
    (pp. 349-355)