Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Northampton had a university in the 13th century

Yesterday I blogged about the way the dominance of Oxford and Cambridge was enforced. Between 1334 and 1827, their graduates had to swear an oath - the Oath of Stamford - not to teach anywhere else.

By one of those odd coincidences, a Guardian article that morning had begun:
Thanks to sour grapes and special pleading by scholars at the University of Oxford, in 1265 Northampton’s university was dissolved by King Henry III.
Sure enough there is a Wikipedia article on University of Northampton (13th century):
The University of Northampton was founded in the reign of King Richard I (the ‘Lion-heart’) as a school. Richard patronised the institution and, according to at least one historian, between 1176 and 1193 the school at Northampton "rivalled or even eclipsed the Oxford schools". 
The school lost a powerful supporter with the death of King Richard. However, it still enjoyed the patronage of Simon de Montfort through the reign of King John and his son Henry III. ... 
In 1261 Henry III was requested to give, and granted, permission for the settlement of a university in the town.
The existence of the University was brief. Four years after it was established, during the siege of Northampton, the scholars resisted the entry of the King’s forces, which resulted in Henry III revoking the town’s licence to have a University.
The article goes on to mention the alternative explanation for its demise given by the Guardian author.

I have been guilty of the past of underestimating Northampton and this story emphasises what an important town it was in the Middle Ages.

It's original university, of course, flourished at too early a date to be affected by the Oath of Stamford.

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