From: St. Dominic and His Work, by Pierre Mandonnet, O.P.,
        Translated by Sister Mary Benedicta Larkin, O.P., B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis/London, 1948.

The Academic Crisis at the Beginning of the Thirteenth Century and the Foundation of the Order of Preachers

THE foundation of the Order of Friars Preachers was intimately connected with the general needs that stirred Christendom in the early thirteenth century. The Church, while causing religious life to rise to a new plane of service, decided to use it for the solution of problems then urgent. Neither the monks, vowed to their personal sanctification by labor on the soil and choral office in monasteries where they made a vow of stability, nor the canons regular, whose institution was closely patterned on the monastic regime, could be counted on for a ministry which demanded above all an educated ecclesiastical militia ready to enter into the social life of the time. The Preachers, with a new vocation and a new organization, were equipped for the needs of a new age. They were the first religious Order vowed to an intense active life for the religious, intellectual, and moral service of Christian society.

The fundamental purpose of the institution of the Preachers was the apostolate of the word. Their very name, Praedicatores, which bore Witness to the teaching mission of the Church, evidenced the character of their work so definitely that other proofs would be superfluous. Preaching, representing the loftiest and yet the most Ordinary form of Christian teaching, implied special obligations of study for those who expressly assumed it as a duty. The new Preachers, by their very vocation, were vowed to study.(1) In the language of the Church, at that time, "preacher" and "doctor" were equivalent terms. The Ordo praedicatorum and the Ordo doctorum, which designated the teaching members of the Church, were one and the same.(2)

The Friars Preachers, however, could have organized their academic life exclusively in view of the needs of the Order, that is, for the doctrinal training of their own members. That they did not do. Many considerations inclined them to adopt a broader method in preference to the unfruitful and exclusive one. Probably they did not even consider the alternative procedure. Whereas the need for evangelizing the people imposed upon them the role of preachers, at the same time the requirements of the clergy, without instruction and without schools adequate in number or standards, imposed upon them the office of professors of sacred science. In fact, the Church was facing a grave academic crisis at the opening of the thirteenth century; and the papacy proposed to solve it by means of the Preachers, while she counted on their service also to provide instruction for the people. The two problems were so closely related that it was natural and economical to grapple with them at one stroke through the instrumentality of the same agents. That there existed in the Church at the close of the twelfth century a serious academic crisis and that the papacy finally attempted to remedy it by means of the Order of Preachers, forms the twofold consideration of the present chapter.


Ordinarily the twelfth century is credited with having made considerable progress in the domain of thought and scholarship. At first glance, the view seems to be justified. But a distinction must be made. The twelfth century presents a large group of famous men, in contrast to the paucity of writers and thinkers in the preceding period. Both in number and quality the men who figure in the literary and intellectual advance give evidence of enormous progress. A closer view, however, concentrates attention on a select group and reveals that the vast majority of ordinary churchmen, those who should have benefitted by such culture, had no share in the diffusion of knowledge and instruction.

All this simply reflected the rate of progress made in the academic world. Schools had been the ceaseless trial of the Church from the earliest Christian centuries in Europe. The combined efforts of ecclesiastic and civil authorities fell far short of success in creating the masters and institutions requisite for the training of the clergy. Although there was progress in the twelfth century, the general situation did not improve; from one point of view, it grew worse. Great centers of learning, unknown to earlier ages, were organized, particularly in France. These attracted and retained the most celebrated masters and thus weakened the strength of the teaching personnel throughout the vast expanse of Christendom. The academic population which had taste or means for study naturally followed this movement of concentration.


The great scholastic centers, favored with the choicest among the masters, certainly raised the cultural level of those who could attend them as students and professors. But most parts of Christendom lay outside this sphere of influence, and academic organization for the profit of the vast numbers of the clergy was rendered difficult and often impossible. The twelfth century saw the growth of this two-sided phenomenon: a specialized cultural progress in the clerical minority who were in contact with certain great and flourishing schools; an ignorance, hardly conceivable, in the great clerical majority, deprived, as ecclesiastics were, of opportunities for learning in the very regions where the duties of their ministry detained them, that is, in the various dioceses throughout Europe. Clerics who studied devoted themselves to the lucrative sciences, especially to canon and civil law; and, in general, prelates were jurists, not theologians.


The select and even brilliant element in the ecclesiastical culture in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries has generally obscured the view of historians regarding the lamentable state of instruction for the clergy as a whole. Documentary evidence beyond challenge must be produced to incline them to accept evidence for the whole picture. We shall omit investigation of details to justify our statement, and shall turn to the surest and most explicit source of information, the authority of the two general councils of 1178 and 1215, that is, the Third and Fourth Lateran Councils. Literary culture along with every type of academic pursuit was at this time confined within the ecclesiastical domain. Hence we must appeal to the supreme authority of the general councils for a knowledge of conditions as they were and of the improvements which the Church sought to effect. The scholastic legislation of the Third and Fourth Lateran Councils played an important part in the history and organization of education up to the close of the Middle Ages, and some of the decrees governed the development of education in several essential points. Enacted for the welfare of all Christendom, this legislation should be consulted and understood first.

Canon 18 (March 19, 1179) of the Third Lateran Council decreed as follows:

The Church of God as a devoted mother is bound to provide for those in need, not only in the things that pertain to the body but also in those that pertain to the good of souls. Wherefore, that the opportunity of acquiring an education may not be denied to the poor who cannot be aided by their parents' means, let some suitable benefice be assigned in every cathedral church to a master who shall teach gratis the clerics of that church and the poor students, by means of which benefice the material wants of the master may be relieved, and to the students a way opened to knowledge. In other churches also and in monasteries, let it be restored if in times past something of this sort has therein existed. For permission to teach, no one shall exact a fee or under pretext of custom ask something from those who teach; nor shall anyone who is qualified and seeks a license be denied the position to teach. Whoever acts contrary to this shall be deprived of his ecclesiastical benefice. For it is proper that he have not the fruit of his labor in the Church of God, who through cupidity endeavors to impede the progress of the churches by the sale of permission to teach.(3)

Thirty-six years later the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) renewed the decree of the previous council. Since the earlier statute had not taken effect in a great number of churches, the Council of 1215 cofirmed it, at the same time adding certain details and interpretations. Canon 11 ordained as follows:

Since there are some who, on account of the lack of necessary means, are unable to acquire an education or to meet opportunities for perfecting themselves, the Third Lateran Council in a salutary decree (18) provided that in every cathedral church a suitable benefice be assigned to a master who shall instruct gratis the clerics of that church and other poor students, by means of which benefice the material needs of the master might be relieved and to the students a way opened to knowledge. But, since in many churches this is not observed, we, confirming the aforesaid decree, add that, not only in every cathedral church but also in other churches where means are sufficient, a competent master be appointed by the prelate with his chapter, or elected by the greater and more discerning part of the chapter, who shall instruct gratis and to the best of his ability the clerics of those and other churches in the art of grammar and in other branches of knowledge. In addition to a master, let the metropolitan church have also a theologian, who shall instruct the priests and others in the Sacred Scriptures and in those things especially that pertain to the cura animarum. To each master let there be assigned by the chapter the revenue of one benefice, and to the theologian let as much be given by the metropolitan; not that they thereby become canons, but they shall enjoy the revenue only so long as they hold the office of instructor. If the metropolitan church cannot support two masters, then it shall provide for the theologian in the aforesaid manner, but for the one teaching grammar, let it see to it that a sufficiency is provided by another church of his city or diocese.(4)

Thus the Fourth Lateran Council took note of the fact that the decree of 1179, requiring a master in each bishopric, had not been generally observed. To facilitate the execution of the decree, the Council of 1215 determined the qualifications of the master. There was to be a professor of grammar in each episcopal city and a professor of theology in each archiepiscopal city. This educational program, which the Council thought progressive, now appears astonishingly poor. Such as it was, however, it was not carried out.

Five years later, Honorius III in his letter of November 16, 1219, lamented the inertia of the prelates. According to the Pope, they excused themselves from the observance of the academic decrees on the pretext of a scarcity of masters of theology. To solve the difficulty, 'Which in all probability was only too real, Honorius decided that the prelate and chapters should choose some of their subjects with an aptitude for theological studies and send them to the schools in order that they might return later to instruct others. To this end, the Pope authorized students and professors to use the benefit of their ecclesiastical revenues with the privilege of absence from residence for five consecutive years.(5) These practical measures undoubtedly contributed to the sudden increase in the student population of great centers, like Paris. But contrary to what might be expected, in their need for masters of theology, the archdioceses did not find their situation improved.


The Church, either directly or by means of her legates, made every effort to ensure the execution of the educational decrees of the Lateran Councils. All that we know of these attempts testifies both to the papacy's resolution to pursue the reform and to the prelates' negligence or inability. Thus we see how the legate, Robert de Courson, made an agreement with Hugh III, duke of Burgundy, on November 30, 1215, for the establishment of grammar schools at Dijon.(6) Another legate, John d'Abbeville, presided at the Council of Lerida in 1229 and had measures adopted for the execution of the Lateran decree in what concerned grammar.(7) Then taking action, this legate the same year promulgated a constitution for the Church of Barcelona, whose bishop had not installed a master of grammar. If, after his return from an expedition to Majorca, the bishop had not installed this master, he was to be deprived of the right to confer benefices; and that was to be the case every time a master was lacking.(8) On May 14, 1254, Innocent IV himself appointed a master of grammar for Venice and ordered the Bishop of Castello to provide him with the revenues from a prebend.(9)

In general, there was better observance of the decree relative to the masters of grammar, because it was easier to find such masters and also because the civil power frequently furnished subsidies for their maintenance. Thus it was that the schools began to take on a municipal character, although for a long time they were governed by clerics and were intended especially for aspirants to the ecclesiastical state. On this ground, conflicts later arose between the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities in regard to the course of instruction.


The decree relative to the establishment of a master of theology in the archdioceses remained almost a dead letter. The legate Romanus, Cardinal of Sant' Angelo, on January 4, 1227, decreed the appointment of a master of theology to Avignon, but the magistrates, that is, the city government, had to defray the expenses.(10) The legate John d'Abbeville in 1228, in the presence of the prelates of Castile and Leon, promulgated constitutions at Valladolid which aimed at re-establishing the once celebrated school of Palencia and renewed the measures of Honorius III exempting from residence clerics who were devoting themselves to study.(11) On June 21, 1231, Gregory IX imposed upon the cathedral of Reggio in Emilia the grant of a prebend in favor of Master Peter, the theologian, who taught theology in that city for five years.(12) These facts bear witness to the papacy's determination to enforce the Lateran decree regarding the master of theology; they also reveal, on the other band, bow it was beating against a force of inertia difficult to overcome.

We are more surprised, perhaps, to find that in great university centers, like Bologna, where indeed law and the decretals were studied, and where law students often looked forward to receiving holy orders, still there was no master of theology. Thus the Bishop of Bologna in 1219 or 1220 appealed to Master Aycardus, archdeacon of Reggio, to come to his city to teach theology because it had no master.(13) However, there is nothing to show that the archdeacon complied with the request. Similarly the magistrates of Vercelli, in the act of instituting a studium generale for their city, April 4, 1228, provided for the installation of a master of theology. Here again, it was the civil power that outstripped the ecclesiastical authority in zeal.(14) As a matter of fact, a document of 1234 shows that at that time the master had not yet been appointed.(15) Doubtless the difficulty of procuring this master accounted for the attempt of the commune to suppress the article in 1234 or 1235.(16)

But more significant than the isolated facts gleaned from historical documents of the period are the direct statements of contemporaries who were well informed on this question of the master of theology. The following testimonies are from writers of the second half of the thirteenth century, when sufficient time had elapsed for the execution of the Lateran decree. A recognized canonist, Bernard of Parma, in his gloss on the decretals of Gregory IX, wrote apropos of the academic legislation of the Lateran: "This article of that legislation has had no more effect than the same law of an earlier date; for those laws were imposed in word, not in act; rather should the contrary be true."(17) Henry of Segusia, the celebrated Cardinal of Ostia, wrote in reference to the same decree: "But what it decrees, what it commands, has thus far not been observed; hence up to this time there has been little or no improvement in consequence of this statute and many others. . . . There is nothing wrong with the statute, which itself was reasonable and useful, but the fault lies in the disobedience of those who should execute it, of negligent prelates, of those who decree and do not correct."(18) Finally St. Thomas Aquinas, in 1257, in his polemic against William of St. Amour, observes: "Because of the lack of men of learning, thus far among the secular clergy it has not been possible to carry out the decree of the Lateran Council, that in each metropolitan church there should be those who could teach theology. Nevertheless, among the religious, by the grace of God, we see that it has been even more fully observed than is required by the statute."(19)

Thus, according to St. Thomas, the secular clergy had not carried out the decrees of the Council with regard to the masters of theology in the archiepiscopal cities. On the other hand, the religious, and St. Thomas refers particularly to the Friars Preachers, had succeeded even beyond the scope of the decrees; for they had established schools of theology not only in archiepiscopal cities but even in a large number of episcopal cities.


Such impotence or lethargy on the part of the episcopate arouses wonder, and raises a question about the true cause of such conditions. The Cardinal of Ostia, as we have seen, fastened the responsibility on three groups. First, there were the subordinates who did not obey. Clerics who possessed benefices had the right to study and to teach theology for five years without the obligation of residence in the place of their benefice. Probably many took advantage of this concession of Honorius III and went to the schools. But, after studying theology, they did not in their turn become masters. What profit would there have been in doing so? Teaching was a gratuitous work, and their ecclesiastical benefice was already ensured, For a rectification of this, not the solution of Honorius III, but that of the Council was needed: to use the revenues of a benefice to support a master as long as he would teach. The prelates, it is true, deplored the scarcity of masters, and their complaint was not unfounded. But the true reason was that it was almost impossible to find a vacant benefice to apply it to the maintenance of a master in theology. When the Fourth Lateran Council issued the decree, all the benefices were occupied. Many were retained by a prospective candidate or reserved in expectation of the death of the beneficiary; so it was that vacancies were rare. Moreover, like the prelates, the beneficiaries themselves and the civil authorities were always on the watch to obtain a benefice for relatives and friends. And it became next to impossible to dispose of a prebend in favor of a master of theology, who was not easily obtainable at the opportune moment, if indeed that time ever came.(20) 1 have found record of only one case in which a benefice was granted in favor of a master, as required by the Lateran Councils. And this grant, it must be acknowledged, was not by the appointment of a bishop, but of Baldwin, Count of Flanders and of Hainaut, in 1196, who established a school in the Abbey of the Canons Regular of Valenciennes; be himself assigned to the office of master his own cleric, Master Gonterus.(21) And when the bishop of Avignon, Zohen, former archpriest of Bologna, by his will of February 10, 1257, left a grant in favor of eight students, it was that they might go to study law for five years at the University of Bologna.

In regard to the negligence of the prelates, as charged by the Cardinal of Ostia, it seems that ultimately the question resolved itself into the difficulty of disposing of a vacant benefice in favor of a master. Yet assuredly a number of archbishops, absorbed in temporal interests, might have been lacking in foresight and zeal.

Lastly, our canonist placed part of the responsibility on the Holy See, which failed to see to the execution of the decrees under penalty. That was true for the time which the Cardinal of Ostia was writing about, after the middle of the thirteenth century. At first the popes exercised a strong hand for the enforcement of the decrees.(22) If suddenly they relaxed their vigor, this change may be accounted for by the fact that they sensed how ineffectual their efforts would be and they adopted, as a substitute, a second plan that was quickly efficacious. It was to a new religious militia that the popes confided the care of providing masters of theology for the whole Christian world. With the new Order in prospect, the prelates considered themselves more or less exempt from the educational ordinance of the Lateran Councils as it regarded the master of theology. The popes, moreover, no longer insisted, for they had found in the schools of the Friars Preachers a provision more dependable than that hoped for by the appointment of a master of theology, always problematical and subject to the action of the archbishop. Indeed it was the institution of an Order of learning, that of the Friars Preachers, which gave actualization to the expressed desire of the Lateran Councils for theological training, and the achievement, as St. Thomas has told us, far surpassed the measure that had been anticipated and required.


That the Order of Friars Preachers was from the first marked by a character essentially doctrinal and academic is attested abundantly by its legislation and its history. It is important here to note that this character was proper to it from its very inception,(23) and that it was impressed upon it in the hope of solving the grave problem just reviewed: the provision of masters for the teaching of Sacred sciences.

As stated earlier, the Order founded by St. Dominic was instituted under the title of "Order of Preachers." It was likewise noted that, in the language of the time, Ordo Praedicatorum and Ordo Doctorum meant one and the same thing. Thus by their vocation the Preachers were strictly bound to a life of study and teaching. On December 22, 1216, when Honorius Ill solemnly confirmed the new Order, he justified his decision simply through a definition of the purpose of the Order and the assurance that it would attain its end. Addressing St. Dominic, the Pope wrote: "Considering that the brethren of your Order will be the champions of the faith and the true lights of the world, we confirm your Order."(24) Acquaintance with the extreme reserve of the Church in approving new religious orders only creates astonishment at her assurance about the work of St. Dominic. As we learn from witnesses of his life at the process of his canonization, be urged his brethren, in consequence of their vocation, to apply themselves ceaselessly to the study of the Old and the New Testament.(25) When he dispersed his first companions on August 15, 1217, it was to send them to the great academic centers of Europe, to Paris and to Bologna. Their first duty there was to study. John of Navarre, one of the religious in the first group sent to Paris, tells us this.(26) On February 27, 1220, Honorius III recommended the Friars Preacher of Paris to the masters and students of the University, speaking of them as: "Our beloved sons, brethren of the Order of Preachers, pursuing the study of the Sacred Books in Paris."(27)

Honorius wrote to John of Barastre, dean of St. Quentin and professor of theology at the University of Paris, appointing him master of the Friars Preachers: "By our command (let him) teach the brothers of the Order of Preachers in the theological faculty."(28) The picture was the same at Bologna, where Jacques de Vitry observed the Preachers in 1222 and described them as being among the students of the city and devoting themselves, under the direction of one of their number, to the study of Holy Scripture.

As might be expected, the primitive Constitutions of the Preachers bear a very scholarly stamp. (Any reference cited here strictly concerns the point at issue.) First, intensive study is of obligation. The Constitutions declare that the Preachers must apply themselves to study day and night, at home or on a journey.(29) They even grant the religious permission to stay up at night for purposes of study.(30) To obviate any hindrance to its exercise, they ordain that the canonical hours should be said breviter et succincte;(31) and dispensations are provided in accord with their need to study.(32) The provincials are required to send to academic centers religious who show signs of acquiring ability to teach in a short time, and religious are not to be withdrawn from study until the time arrives for their recall.(33) This provision reads like a passage in the letter of Honorius (November 16, 1219), when he appealed to the episcopate for a similar measure. Finally, and this was a point of paramount importance, the Preachers were not to establish a convent without a doctor, a professor of theology.(34) To teach publicly, he should himself have studied theology for at least four years.(35)


By its institution as well as by its laws the Order of Preachers created a clergé universitaire, according to the apt phrasing of A. Luchaire.(36) The obligation which the Order assumed, the one which, as seemed to be true, the papacy itself had imposed upon it -- to open a school in each of its convents -- actualized the academic projects of the Lateran Council for the teaching of theology. With the rapid extension of the Order, its schools of theology were established not only in archiepiscopal cities, but even in a great number of episcopal centers. Hence the judgment of St. Thomas Aquinas, as noted above.

Strongly established in Paris and Bologna, the two great university centers, the Preachers from the very first drew a considerable number of recruits from among the masters and students. The movement had started with the preaching of St. Dominic and Reginald of Orléans. The second master general of the Order, Jordan of Saxony (1222--36), himself attracted to the Order a thousand subjects, almost all from the schools and universities.(37) This led to a decentralization of learning, with a consequent reanimation of a great part of the body of Christendom. Clothed in the religious habit, these masters, whom it had been impossible to tear away from the great schools, now were ready to go anywhere at a word from their chief; for preoccupation with their own glory, their own pleasure, and their own personal interests, they had substituted an ideal of zeal and devotion. Even more important, the way was thus finally open to an exceptional increase in the number of learned clerics.

The episcopate universally and wholeheartedly welcomed the Friars Preachers. There were repeated recommendations from the Sovereign Pontiffs. The bishops who bad found it impossible to procure either preachers to instruct their faithful, or masters to train their clergy, as the Fourth Lateran Council required, found in the activity of the Preachers a solution easy, certain, and economical. Even before the death of St. Dominic, an explicit statement of these views and attitudes went into a letter of April 22, 1221, from the bishop of Metz, Conrad of Scharfeneck, chancellor of the Empire, when he recommended the establishment of the Preachers in his diocese. He said that the community of the Preachers would be of great service to the laity through the preaching of these religious, and to the clerics also through their teaching of the sacred sciences. Moreover, he was mindful of the example of the Pope, who had granted them a house in Rome, and of the large number of archbishops and bishops who had imitated him.(38)


With the spread of Dominican schools, the bishops considered themselves almost exempt from the obligation of carrying out the academic decrees of the Lateran in regard to theological instruction. The Holy See itself favored the new trend which it had set in motion. It granted privileges to the schools of the Preachers, thus profiting the clerics who attended them;(39) and it carefully refrained from giving them competition upon the foundation of new universities. In fact, the Holy See did not ordinarily grant the erection of a faculty of theology; the schools established by the Preachers and the other mendicant religious who in their own degree followed the lead of the Preachers were regarded, if not as equivalent to a faculty of theology, at least as adequate to that function.(40) It was in consideration of this circumstance that Clement IV, in a letter addressed to the general chapter of Trier (February 24, 1266), called attention to certain important features in the administration of the Order, and pointed out how imperative it was that studies be sustained in vigor, especially in places like Paris, Bologna, and other university cities. Highly competent masters should be appointed to staff the house in such centers.(41) The thirteenth century also presented the spectacle of persons who, while engaged in the study of the fine arts, law, or medicine, at universities without a faculty of theology, frequented the theological schools of the Preachers in the same city. This occurred in the case of Richard (later bishop of Chichester) at Orléans;(42) Engelbert of Admont, at Padua;(43) Arnold of Villeneuve, at Montpellier;(44) indeed, it must have been quite general. Some archbishops, and later on some bishops, attempted of their own accord to carry out for their dioceses the decrees of the Lateran Council. Rather astonishing and a proof of how difficult the secular clergy still found it to procure professors of theology,(45) is the fact that the prelates appealed to the Friars Preachers to staff their schools. In the course of my reading I have noted the names of more than a hundred Preachers who, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, taught in the episcopal schools and even in the monastic abbeys. On the other hand, I have found almost no names of secular clerics or of other religious. These facts are easily ascertained from records showing bow the Preachers were requisitioned. The Archbishop of Reims asked and obtained from Innocent IV on June 9, 1246, the transfer of the convent of the Preachers to a place nearer his cathedral, so that the friar teaching theology to the canons might more conveniently discharge his duty.(46) Similarly the Archbishop and the cathedral chapter of Lyons, in a letter addressed to Urban V, February 3, 1363, for the appointment of a Dominican professor, made a point of the fact that the Preachers had been filling the chair of theology in the archdiocese of Lyons since the establishment of their convent,(47) which was then nearly a century and a half old. This arrangement would continue to the end of the fifteenth century, if not even longer.


Finally, the Preachers were instruments of academic reform. It was not only through the widespread establishment of their convent schools and the provisions of the masters for the secular clergy that they were influential agents of academic reform. Their action was a power of the first order in universities of the thirteenth century with a faculty of theology. In these universities the Dominican school was at the outset incorporated into this faculty. Such was the case at Paris, Toulouse, Oxford, Canterbury, and Naples. At Paris the Order of Preachers even had the privilege of possessing two schools, for the purpose of fostering a growth in its scholarly personnel. In these great studia, the Order placed remarkable masters. Only two need be named: Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas. The doctrinal labors of these two geniuses discovered the answer to another serious question, propounded openly from the first years of the thirteenth century: how to assimilate the science of Aristotle into the learning of the Christian world.(48) In the course of the fourteenth century, when the Holy See began to grant faculties of theology to various universities, the Dominican schools, already long existent, were incorporated into these new institutions. Such in general was the trend of the scholastic development of the Order of Preachers with a sketch of the part it played in the solution of the academic issues of the early thirteenth century.

Through the numerous documents available on this subject, it is possible to study minutely the scholastic organization of the Preachers. By calculating the number of masters employed in the different classes of schools and figuring from the statistics of their houses, we can estimate that at the close of the thirteenth century the Preachers counted a scholarly personnel of at least fifteen hundred members, about half of whom were engaged in the public teaching of theology. This force of religious professors was divided among their own conventual schools, universities, and the episcopal and monastic schools. Eighty years earlier, in spite of the decrees of ecumenical councils, it had been impossible within all Christendom to find a dozen professors of theology beyond the confines of a few great centers of learning. In the early fourteenth century, the celebrated Italian Friar Preacher, Jordan of Rivalto, summed up in a few words the progress, or rather the revolution, wrought in the domain of the theological instruction in the preceding century: "Where could we find words to estimate the services of that man (St. Dominic) to the Church? It was he who first established schools of theology for instruction in divinity. In the whole wide world there was not a school where anyone might acquire this learning, except perhaps at Paris; yet even that was frequented little and had dwindled to almost nothing. Today all Christendom is full of this learning, and there is a school of divinity in each convent. The Friars Minor and other brothers have also devoted themselves to this study; convents of all orders have their schools of divinity. So great is this achievement that there are no words to give an idea of its worth."(49)


1 "Study is not the purpose of the Order, but it is of supreme necessity for the prescribed end, namely, preaching and work for the salvation of souls, because we could do neither without study" (Humbert, De vita regulari, II, 41).

2 Richard of St. Victor, In Apocalypsim (PL, CXCVI, 775-97). "Since, therefore, the order of doctor is as it were pre-eminent in the Church, not everyone ought to usurp the office of preaching for himself." Letter of Innocent III, July 12, 1199 (Potthast, no. 780). The order of doctors, that is, of preachers, has a special prerogative in the Church of God (Hostiensis, Summa aurea, V, De haereticis, no. 16). "Granting that the order of doctors is as it were pre-eminent in the Church of God" (Gregory IX to the Archbishop of Milan [Potthast, no. 9675], text incorporated in the Decretals, c. 14, X, De haereticis, V, 7). "Since in the government of the Church the office of preaching holds a pre-eminence, so the Ordo Praedicatorum is pre-eminent" (William of St. Amour, De periculis, chap. 2). "Through the foresight of the founders, and for its work and support, an illustrious order of doctors (the university) was established there (Paris)" (Alexander IV; Potthast, no. 15801).

3 Mansi, XXII, 227; Denifle, Chartularium, I, 10; Schroeder, Councils, p. 229.

4 Mansi, XXII, 986, 999; Denifle, I, 81; Schroeder, p. 252.

5 Denifle, op. cit., I, 91.

6 Muteau, Les écoles et collèges en province (1882), p. 75.

7 Episcopal archives of Barcelona.

8 Mansi, XXIII, 189; Martène, Anecdot., IV, 597.

9 Tiraboschl, Storia della letteratura italiana (1833), VII, 109.

10 Fournier, Les statuts et privilèges des universités françaises (1891), II, 303.

11 Florez, España sagrada, XXXVI (1787), 218; Denifle, Die Universitäten, p. 476.

12 Denifle, Archiv., IV, 240.

13 Ibid., p. 242.

14 The establishment of the studium at Vercelli in 1228 was in reality the result of a contract between the magistrates of that city and the students of the University of Padua who had emigrated from Bologna in 1222. These students must have required a master of theology such as they had had at Padua with the Preachers. The act is found in Baggiolini, Lo studio generale di Vercelli nel medio evo (1888), pp. 77-85.

15 Denifle, Die Universitäten, p. 292; Irici, Rerum patriae libri III (1745), p. 81; Tiraboschi, Storia della letteratura italiana, VII, 90.

16 Baggiolini, op. cit., pp. 94 f.

17 Comment. in c. super speculam, X, De magistris, V.

18 Glos. in V Docibiles, c. 5, X. De magistris, V, 5.

19 Contra impugnantes Dei cultum, Opera, Vivès, XXIX, 29.

20 A. Luchaire, La société française au temps de Philippe-Auguste ( 1909), p. 141. Cf. Thomas de Cantimpré, Bonum universate de apibus (1627) Bk. 1, chap. 19, 110s- 5-10. Conditions were still the same in 1344 when Richard de Bury wrote Philobiblion (ed. Cocheris, 1856), p. 248; Besso, Il Philobiblion di Ricardo de Bury (1914), p. 41.

21 A. Miraeus, Opera diplomatica et historica ( 1723), 11, 837.

22 Honorius III had even deposed a bishop who had not studied grammar. Rerum italicarum scriptores, VIII, 1053; Mon. Germ. historica, Scriptores, XXXII, 33 (Salimbene).

23 Not only was this doctrinal character, in the etymological sense of imparting instruction, inseparable from the contemporary concept of preaching (carefully distinguished at that time from the moral or penitential sermon), but it was imposed with even greater extension and exactness in the early thirteenth century upon the legates, the Poor Catholics, and the first Dominicans in the preaching carried on in the territory of the Albigenses.

24 Bullarium O.P., I, 4.

25 "Likewise [Brother John of Spain] said that Brother Dominic often advised and exhorted the brethren of the Order by what he said and wrote to study always in the New and the Old Testament: and he knew this because he heard (Dominic) say it and saw his letters" (Processus [Bologna], no. 29).

26 "He [Brother Dominic] sent this witness, however unwilling, to Paris with some clerical brethren and one lay brother that they might study, and preach, and establish a convent there" (ibid., no. 26).

27 Denifle, Chartularium, I, 95.

28 Ibid., p. 101.

29 "As they ought, to be intent upon study, let them day and night, at home or on a journey, read or meditate on something, and endeavor to retain in memory whatever they can" (Denifle, Archiv., I, 201).

30 "In the cells they may read, write, gay, sleep, and whoever wishes may even stay up at night for purposes of study" (ibid. , p. 223).

31 "Let all the hours be said in the church breviter et succincte so that the brethren may not lose devotion and their study may not be in the least degree hindered" (ibid., p. 197).

32 Ibid., p. 223.

33 "If he finds some apt for teaching who may be schooled for it in a short time, the prior of the province (or of the kingdoms) will be careful to send them to a place of study where learning flourishes, and those under whose direction they are placed dare not occupy them in other services or send them back to their province until they are recalled" (ibid., p. 218).

34 "A convent may not be established unless there are twelve religious, nor without a license of the general chapter, nor without a prior and a doctor" (ibid., p. 221).

35 "No one may teach publicly, unless he shall have studied theology for at least four years" (ibid., p. 223).

36 L'université de Paris sous Philippe-Auguste (1899), p. 53.

37 "He frequented cities in which schools flourished. One year he passed the Lenten season in Paris the next at Bologna; the convents at which he stayed seemed like beehives, with so many entering and many being sent out by him to various provinces. . . . He devoted himself with all his energies to attract good men to the Order, and for that reason he tarried in places where there were students, particularly in Paris" (Frachet, pp. 108, 529; C. Bayonne, Lettres du bienheureux Jourdain de Saxe [1865]; Beati Jordani de Saxonia Opera [ed. Berthier, 1891]; B. M. Reichert, "Das Itinerar des zweiten Dominikanergenerals Jordanis von Sachsen," in Festschr. 1100 Jubil. deutsch. Campo Santo Rom., 1897, p. 153. "This man (Jordan), ruling and guiding the Order well for almost fifteen years, is said to have received into the Order and clothed in the holy habit a thousand brothers and more" (Bernard Guidonis, Libellus de magistris ord. Praed.; Martène, Script., VI, 406; Frachet, p. 102).

38 Gallia christiana, XIII, 409; M. D. Chapotin, Histoire des dominicains de la province de France, p. 31; Laurent, no. 136. For the complete letter, see infra, p. 330. The chancellor had just returned from Rome, where Frederick's coronation had brought him into contact with Honorius III and Cardinal Ugolino in November, 1220. His ideas echo those of the papal curia on the Order of Preachers. The letter, dated April 22, 1221, was written a few days after his arrival home.

39 On February 6, 1245, at the request of the Duchess of undy, Innocent IV made a grant in favor of clerics in the Province of Lyons: "Whoever pursue theological study in the schools of the Friars Preachers in the Diocese of Lyons will receive integrally the same income from their benefices as if they had carried on the same work at Paris" (Denifle, I, 176).

40 In interpreting this action of the popes as a means of ensuring the dominant and privileged position of the University of Paris, Denifle seems not to have envisaged sufficiently the academic problem as a whole (cf. Die Universitäten, p. 704). It is indeed true that the popes strove to maintain the authority and prestige of the University of Paris; but Paris alone could not answer the cultural needs of all the clerics in Christendom. The papacy sought rather to decentralize the student world of Paris, as it did by the foundation (1229) of the University of Toulouse, where theology was taught also (ibid., p. 325; Chart. univ. Paris, p. 129).

41 "Moreover, let study advance in the Order, especially at Paris, Bologna, and other places where the studium generale is flourishing; there let it be directed by doctors and masters who have been proved capable and suitable" (Bullarium O.P. I, 471). The studium generale here mentioned was not the studium of the Order. It referred to universities in general. But the conventual schools of these cities had to have very good masters, because they were frequented by university students, who desired to devote themselves to the study of theology; either the studia of the Order were incorporated into the University as at Paris and elsewhere, or simply established adjacent to them, as in Bologna, before the erection of the faculty of theology. When Diniz, king of Portugal, gave the Magna Charta to the University of Coïmbra on February 15, 1309, he said that the lectures in theology would be given in the Convents of the Preachers and Minors (Denifle, Die Universitäten, p. 525).

42 Acta sanctorum, April, 1, 279.

43 Pezius, Thesaurus anecdotorum novissimorum, I, 430. E. A. Gloria, Monumenti dell' universita di Padova (1222-1318), p. 361.

44 Finke, Aus den Tagen Bonifaz VIII, clxxiii, cxc.

45 The author of the reports to Gregory X ( 1273) entitled, Collectio de scandalis Ecclesiae, in speaking of the secular clergy, wrote: "if they happened to frequent the studia, they commonly heard lectures in civil law, not in theology . . . for in France studies in civil law flourish, but those in divine law, which attract few auditors among the secular clergy, have been allowed to lapse completely." Döllinger, Beitäge zur politischen, kirchlichen und Kultur-Geschichte der 6 letzen Jahrhunderte, III, 188. According to Stroick, the author was Gilbert of Tournai.

46 Bullarium O.P., I, 165.

47 "By an ancient institution according to canonical decrees in the Church of Lyons, from the time of the foundation of the Order of Preachers, one qualified Brother of the said Order, assigned to this work by the same Order, has given lectures regularly in sacred theology in an honorable and solemn place . . . (cathedra ordinatis). All the clergy of the aforesaid Church as well as of the whole city came to assist at these lectures" (Denifle, Chartularium, III, 98).

48 Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant et I'averroisine latin au XIIIe siècle, I, 1-63.

49 Prediche del Beato Fra Giordano da Rivalto, I, 236.