Letters from Medieval Students

Angela

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Some things just don't change that much: Dear Dad, send money. :)

See:

http://www.medievalists.net/2015/09/dear-dad-send-money-letters-from-students-in-the-middle-ages/

"However, the idea that students were asking their parents for money is not a new phenomenon – it began soon after the emergence of universities in medieval Europe. As one medieval Italian father puts its, “a student’s first song is a demand for money, and there will never be a letter which does not ask for cash.”Here is a typical example from the 1220s:

B. to his venerable master A., greeting This is to inform you that I am studying at Oxford with the greatest diligence, but the matter of money stands greatly in the way of my promotion, as it is now two months since I spent the last of what you sent me. The city is expensive and makes many demands; I have to rent lodgings, buy necessaries, and provide for many other things which I cannot now specify. Wherefore I respectfully beg your paternity that by the promptings of divine pity you may assist me, so that I may be able to complete what I have well begun. For you must know that without Ceres and Bacchus Apollo grows cold.


Some students made sure to note how well they were doing at university before making their appeal for money. In this twelfth-century letter from France, two brothers lay it on thick:


To their very dear and respectable parents M. Matre, knight, and M. his wife, M. and S., their sons, send greetings and filial obedience.

This is to inform you that, by divine mercy, we are living in good health in the City of Orleans, an are devoting ourselves wholly to study, mindful of the words of Cato, ‘To know anything is praiseworthy.’ We occupy a good dwelling, next door but one to the schools and market-place, so that we can go to school every day without wetting our feet. We have also good companions in the house with us, well advanced in their studies and of excellent habit – an advantage which we well appreciate, for as the Psalmist says, ‘With an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright’. Wherefore lest production cease from lack of material, we beg your paternity to send us by the bearer, B., money for buying parchment, ink, a desk, and other things which we need, in sufficient amount that we may suffer no want on your account (God forbid!) but finish our studies and return home with honour. The bearer will also take charge of the shoes and stockings which you have to send us, and any news as well.


Believe that? :)
 
"...many other things which I cannot now specify." That is golden. It's actually really refreshing to imagine that 1. There were devoted communities of learning in an era so often characterized as one that lacked scholarly pursuit; and 2. That even 800 years ago, college kids were hitting their parents up for money. And college towns were still expensive ha ha. I'd be super curious to know the socio-economic standing of those who went to university, and their motivation for doing so. Thanks for sharing.
 
"...many other things which I cannot now specify." That is golden. It's actually really refreshing to imagine that 1. There were devoted communities of learning in an era so often characterized as one that lacked scholarly pursuit; and 2. That even 800 years ago, college kids were hitting their parents up for money. And college towns were still expensive ha ha. I'd be super curious to know the socio-economic standing of those who went to university, and their motivation for doing so. Thanks for sharing.

You're very welcome. How little some things have changed, right?

It reminds me of the letters from Vindolanda where the auxiliary Roman troopers were writing home asking for wool socks and more food. :)

One thing that has changed since then in terms of universities is that they were pretty violent places. Lots of fights not only between students but between the students and the townsfolk. Sometimes it was like pitched battles.
 
These are excellent letters from medieval students, I think from a historical point of view, this is very interesting. I work as a writer and can offer you interesting information. I have an excellent service PapersOwl where you can edit your papers, I think for college students this will be beyond the necessary service.I will be glad to help.
 
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The messages don't stop coming once they're out of college either. They're just in the form of texts, not even e-mails. :)
 
Nice find :)

If someone is not well acquainted with a topic, he can check classic book Les ntellectuels au Moyen Age by Jacques Le Goff. Translated probably in all EU languages. Informative, entertaining and short read.
 
I find it very funny. But I can also add that students are very similar in the middle ages and in our times, and this is natural :)
 
"...many other things which I cannot now specify." That is golden. It's actually really refreshing to imagine that 1. There were devoted communities of learning in an era so often characterized as one that lacked scholarly pursuit; and 2. That even 800 years ago, college kids were hitting their parents up for money. And college towns were still expensive ha ha. I'd be super curious to know the socio-economic standing of those who went to university, and their motivation for doing so. Thanks for sharing.

So true!!!
 
One thing that has changed since then in terms of universities is that they were pretty violent places. Lots of fights not only between students but between the students and the townsfolk. Sometimes it was like pitched battles.

Ohh, fights in universities. And problems with the townspeople...
It is a bit shocking...

But I kind of get why, you see that campuses even today are conflictive.
Just imagine in the Late Middle Ages(or even Renaissance)
 

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