The History of the University of Cambridge by Fuller 1608-1661

The History of the University of Cambridge, and of Waltham Abbey with The Appeal of injured innocence   By Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661

The low Condition of Cambridge at the Conquest.

William the Conqueror. A.D. 1066.

At this time the fountain of learning in Cambridge was but little, and that very troubled. For of late the Danes (who at first, like an intermitting ague, made but inroads into the kingdom, but afterwards turned to a quotidian of constant habitation) had harassed all this country, and hereabouts kept their station.

Mars then frighted away the Muses, when the Mount of Parnassus was turned into a fort, and Helicon derived into a trench. And at this present, king William the Conqueror, going to subdue the monks of Ely that resisted him, made Cambridgeshire the seat of war.

Cambridge Castle built by King William. A.D. 1070.

For, to the town of Cambridge he retired; and there for a season reposed himself, half dead with sorrow, that his design against the aforesaid monks took no effect. At what time he found in the town three hundred and eighty-seven dwelling houses; eighteen whereof he caused then to be plucked down, to make room for the erecting of a Castle, which he there re-edified, that it might be a check-bit to curb this country, which otherwise was so hard-mouthed to be ruled.

This Castle, here built by him, was strong for situation, stately for structure, large for extent, and pleasant for prospect; having in it, amongst other rooms, a most magnificent Hall; the stones and timber whereof were afterwards begged by the Master and Fellows of King’s Hall, of king Henry IV. (15 April 1367 – 20 March 1413) towards the building of their chapel.

At this day the Castle may seem to have run out of the gate-house, which only is standing and employed for a prison: so that what was first intended to restrain rebels without it, is now only used to confine felons within it. There is still extant also an artificial high hill deeply intrenched about, steep in the ascent, but level at the top, which endureth still in defiance of the teeth of time; as the most greedy glutton must leave those bones (not for manners, but necessity) which are too hard for him to devour.

King William had scarce finished this Castle, when it was first handselled with the submission of the abbot of Ely, who came hither to bewail his errors, and beseech the king’s mercy, having formerly paid seven hundred marks to preserve the life and liberty of himself and his convent. Besides, when that money came to be paid, and one groat thereof was found wanting in weight, a new sum was extorted from him for breach of covenants; -to teach them who are to deal with potent creditors, to weigh right, lest otherwise they approve themselves penny wise, and pound foolish.

The first Coming of Jews to Cambridge. A.D. 1106.

Jews at this time came first to Cambridge, and possessed a great part of the town, called the Jewry at this day. Round-church in the Jewry is conjectured, by the rotundity of the structure, to have been built for their synagogue. Much like whereunto, for fabric and fashion, I have seen another at Northampton, where Jews about the same time had their seminary.

Some will say, Cambridge, an inland town of small trading, was ill-chosen by these Jews for their seat; where the poor scholars, if borrowing from these usurers, were likely to bring but small profit unto them. But let it suffice, that the Jews chose this place, whom no Christians need advise, for their own advantage. Here their carriage was very civil; not complained of, as elsewhere, for cruel crucifying of Christian children, and other enormities.

Paris Students invited over into England. A.D. 1229.

Sad at this present was the condition of the University of Paris; such murders were done, and affronts offered, to the students thereof. Our king Henry being half a Frenchman, (in the right of his queen,) and possessing many—pretending to more—dominions in France, taking advantage hereof, July 16th, “invited the Parisian students to come over into England, and to dwell in what cities, boroughs, and villages they pleased to choose:” an act no less politic than charitable, to fortify himself with foreign affection; knowing, that such Frenchmen, who in their youths had English education, would in their age retain English inclinations. We easily believe the greatest part of these strangers repaired to Oxford; though Cambridge no doubt did share in them her considerable proportion.

Counterfeit Scholars do much Mischief. The Sheriff commanded to suppress these Malignants. A.D. 1231.

A crew of pretenders to scholarship (as long as there are true diamonds, there will be counterfeit) did much mischief at this time in the University. These lived under no discipline, having no tutor, saving him who teacheth all mischief; and when they went to act any villainy, then they would be scholars, to sin with the more secrecy and less suspicion.

When cited to answer for their wickedness, in the Chancellor’s court, then they would be no-scholars, and exempt themselves from his jurisdiction. No wonder if Cambridge was pestered with such cheats, seeing the church of Thyatira itself had those in her “which called themselves prophets,” and were not, Rev. 2:20.

Civil students suffered much by and more for these incorrigible rake-hells, especially from such mouths who are excellent at an uncharitable synecdoche,—to call all after a part, and to condemn the whole University for a handful of hang-byes, such as never were matriculated members therein. In vain did the Chancellor endeavour the suppressing of these “malignants,” as the king calleth them in his letter to the sheriff; the hands of the University being too weak to pluck up weeds so deeply rooted.

In vain also did the Chancellor call in the assistance of the bailiff and burgesses of the town, who, as the king taxeth them in one of his letters, aut impotentes fuerunt, ant negligentes, (to effect the matter}.

The Original of Taxers.

This was the first original of the taxatores or “taxers” in Cambridge, so called at first from taxing, pricing, or rating the rents of houses. Their name remains, but office is altered, at this day.

For after the bounty of founders had raised halls and colleges for scholars’ free abode, their liberality gave the taxers a writ of ease, no more to meddle with the needless pricing of townsmen’s houses.

However, two taxers are still annually chosen; whose place is of profit and credit, as employed in matters of weight, and to see the true gauge of all measures, especially such as concern the victuals of scholars. For, where the belly is abused in its food, the brains will soon be distempered in their study.

No University as yet in Scotland and Ireland.

For as yet, and for some succeeding ages, no University in Ireland. And although some forty years after, Alexander Bicknor, archbishop of Dublin, obtained of the pope privileges for an University, and erected lectures at Dublin; yet presently the troublesome times frustrated so good a design, till towards the end of the reign of queen Elizabeth.

As for Scotland, it was University-less till Laurence Lundoris and Richard Corvel, Doctors of civil Law, first professed learning at St. Andrew’s, some hundred years after: till which time the Scottish youth repaired to Cambridge and Oxford for their education, as their bishops did to York for consecration, till they got an archbishop of their own, in the reign of king Edward IV.

Ancient religious Houses in Cambridge.

Pass we now from these Hostels to those religious houses which anciently flourished in Cambridge: where first we meet with the Dominicans, or Preaching Friars, (though neither finding their founder, nor valuation at their suppression,) whose house is now turned into Emmanuel-College. Franciscans follow, called also Minors, or Gray Friars; their house being now converted into Sidney College. It was founded by king Edward I. where they had a fair church, which I may call “the St. Mary’s,” before “St. Mary’s;” the Commencement, Acts, and Exercises being kept therein. The area of this church is easily visible in Sidney College garden, where the depression and subsidency of their bowling-green east and west present the dimensions thereof, and I have oft found dead men’s bones thereabouts.

When this church fell, or was taken down, I know not; and should be thankful to such as should to me expound those passages in Mr. Ascham’s epistle to Thomas Thyrleby, bishop of Westminster; the date of the year not being expressed. It is to entreat him to stand the University’s friend, in compassing for them this house of Franciscans, wherein hitherto their great endeavours had small success. What accommodations this house could then afford the University at Commencement I understand not. Sure I am, king Henry VIII. bestowed it on Trinity College, of whom the executors of the lady Frances Sidney did afterwards purchase it.

Augustine Friars, on the south side of Pease-Market, lately the dwelling of Mr. Pierce, and now of Mr. Thomas Buck, esquire- beadle. Their founder and value unknown.

Carmelites, built by Edward I. to which Sir Guy de Mortimer and Thomas de Hertford were great benefactors. Their house crossed athwart the street now leading to King’s College, as occupying the ground whereon Catherine Hall and Queen’s do stand at this day.

White Canons, almost over-against Peter House, where now a brick-wall, (the back-side is called White Canons at this day,) and an inn with the sign of the Moon.

As for the nunnery of St. Radigund‘s and priory of Barnwell, we have formerly spoken of them: only I add, that at the Dissolution king Henry bestowed the site of the latter on Sir Anthony Brown (afterward viscount Mountague) and dame Elizabeth his wife, and their heirs, at the rent of one pound four shillings penny half-penny.

Frequent Contests betwixt Friars and University-Men.

These Friars living in these convents were capable of degrees, and kept their Acts, as other University men. Yet were they gremials and not-gremials, who sometimes would so stand on the tiptoes of their privileges, that they endeavoured to be higher than other students: so that oftentimes they and the scholars could not set their horses in one stable, or rather their books on one shelf. However, generally the Chancellors ordered them into tolerable obedience, as will appear hereafter.

Read the book by clicking below

The history of the University of Cambridge, and of Waltham Abbey with The Appeal of injured innocence



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s