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The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216$
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Hugh M. Thomas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702566

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702566.001.0001

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English Secular Clerics and the Growth of European Intellectual Life in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance

English Secular Clerics and the Growth of European Intellectual Life in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance

Chapter:
(p.227) 10 English Secular Clerics and the Growth of European Intellectual Life in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance
Source:
The Secular Clergy in England, 1066–1216
Author(s):

Hugh M. Thomas

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198702566.003.0010

R. W. Southern had a low opinion of England’s role in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance, describing it as an intellectual colony of France. This chapter argues that although England remained geographically peripheral, its secular clergy played a large role in the rise of continental centers of learning such as Paris, Bologna, Salerno, and Toledo. As a result, English clerics were important to the spread of learning throughout Europe, the rise of the schools, and the foundation of the first universities, obviously including Oxford and Cambridge. Monasteries had dominated English learning in the Anglo-Saxon period, but the number of intellectuals among the secular clergy exploded during the long twelfth century. By c.1200, England had large numbers of learned magistri, and though it produced few of the greatest intellectuals of the period, many English clerics were writing important and influential works.

Keywords:   secular clergy, renaissance, intellectuals, learning, universities

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