Innovation in Late Medieval Educational Thought: Vincent of Beauvais, Ramon Lull, and Pierre Dubois

Innovation in Late Medieval Educational Thought: Vincent of Beauvais, Ramon Lull, and Pierre Dubois

By Joseph M. McCarthy

Paper presented at the Medieval Forum, Plymouth State College, April 19, 1991

Abstract: The agenda of 13th and 14th century educational theorists embraced issues that stimulated innovation in educational theory and practice. Christian thinkers of the late middle ages were preoccupied with adapting their educational notions to the changing conditions of their socio-political milieu. The question of the training of Christian rulers generated an extensive literature.

Vincent de Beauvais, educational consultant to the family of Louis IX, wrote a practical manual of child rearing with a view to the everyday pedagogic practice necessary to prepare 11 children for their leadership role in society. His treatment of the nature and use of history was innovative. He understood the incompleteness and falsity of many sources and used them critically. He avoided the allegorical mode of interpretation in favor of the literal sense. On education of women he wrote extensively on practical reality.

Ramon Lull displayed creativity in his educational views by founding language schools for the preparation of missionaries. His innovation in educational theory and practice was necessitated by Christian purposes. He was alone in attaching importance to Muslin attitudes and culture, as well as training in Arabic for missionaries.

Pierre Dubois gave the concept of education for women an interesting twist by proposing that females be trained in languages, medicine, and surgery before being sent to the Holy Land. Once there they would be married off to wealthy Easterners and convert their husbands to Christianity. He was not developing a theory of education for women, but proposing a novel strategy for crusade.

Click here to read this article from ERIC: Educational Resource Information Center

Sign up to get a Weekly Email from

* indicates required

medievalverse magazine