Some Highlights of Education in Christian Spain the Late Medieval Period

Some Highlights of Education in Christian Spain the Late Medieval Period

By Fermín Sánchez Barea and Beatriz Comella Gutiérrez

Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 46, 2012

Detail of a historiated initial of a teacher and students, British Library, Harley 3140, f. 137.

Introduction: Before entering the study period that interests us, it seems appropriate to refer to the little news about education in Visigoth times. After the demise of the educational institutions of Roman origin, in times of Amalarico (507-539) are organized in the studies recognized by the church councils of Toledo II (527) and IV (633). On the occasion of the Arab invasion, there was a decline in these schools, but not total disappearance. In northern Spain after the Reconquista, the first news is the Council of Coyanza (1050), which is entrusted to the bishops to have a school for clergymen. In 1056, the Council of Compostela, orders to the abbot creates schools in their churches to prepare clergy. Among these cathedral schools highlights the school of Vich, internationally renowned reached by the monk Gerbert, later Pope Sylvester II, and also cathedral school of Santiago, in which was formed the influential bishop Gelmírez.

Already in the twelfth century extending the number of these cathedral schools: Toledo (1133), Salamanca (1134), Astorga (1154), Urgell (1163), Toledo (1172), etc. But what came to give a tremendous boost to these schools were the universal councils of Lateran, namely II (1179) and IV (1215). This impulse was also innovative in that it was going to order them to attend not only to the formation of the clergy but also to poor children.

On the other hand, the kings, gradually reconquering the cities, they took care to promote education as reflected in the charters of these populations. Thus in Spain the late medieval period the educational activity was exerted mainly by the Church and the councils, without missing the contribution of individuals attending the children of those who could deal with this expense. This educational activity has been well documented, preserved in the archives of the cathedral and the municipalities, but only in rare cases has done research on it.

This has happened with regard to Madrid in the Book of Bernaldez Montalvo (1989) and on Valencia in publications of J. Sanchis Sivera (1936) and Esteve Forriol (1987), who will serve as the basis for the study of this period. In these two populations were quite different systems, so they are complementary and can be used to obtain an overview of education in this period. In Valencia would be fundamentally ecclesiastical teaching; while in Madrid was a purely municipal.

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