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169 [168]

King Alfred. Scholes, Vniuersities. K. Alfred. Vniuers. of Oxford. Ioā. Scotus Actes and Monum. of the Church.

be erected, and studies to florish. Although amōg the Britaines in the towne of MarginaliaChester a pleace of learnyng.Chester in Southwales long before that, in kyng Arthurs tyme, as Galfridus writeth: both Grammer, and Philosophy with other tounges was then taught. After that some writers record, that in the tyme of Egbert kyng of Kent, this Ileland began to florishe with Philosophie. About which tyme some also thinke: MarginaliaThe vniuersitie of Grauntchester by Cambridge.that the Vniuersitie of Grauntechester, neare to that whiche now is called Cambrige, began to be founded, by Bede: followyng this coniecture therin, for that Alcuinus (before mētioned) which after went to Rome, and from thence to Fraunce, in the tyme of Charles the great, MarginaliaThe vniuersitie of Paris first begā by iiii. Rabanus, Alcuinus, Claudius, Ioan. Scotus.
Sigebert k. of Eastāgles, a setter vp of schooles.
Two ancient schooles in Englād one for Greeke, the other for latine.
where he first began the Vniuersitie of Paris: was first traded vp in the exercise of studies, at the same schoole of Graūtechester. Beda Lib. III. cap. 18, writyng also of Sigebert kyng of Eastangles, declareth how the sayd Sigebert returning out of Fraunce into England (accordyng to the examples which he did there see) ordered and disposed schooles of learnyng, through the meanes of Felix then Byshop: and placed in them masters and teachers, after the vse and maner of the Cantuarites. And yet before these tymes, moreouer is thought to be two schooles or vniuersities within the realme: the one Greke, at the towne of Greglade, whiche after was called Kyrkelade: The other for Latine, which place was the called Latinelade: afterward Letthelade neare to Oxford.

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But how so euer it chaūced that the knowledge and study of good letters beyng once planted in this Realme afterward went to decay: yet kyng Alfrede deserueth no litle prayse, for restoryng or rather increasing the same. After whose tyme they haue euer since continued, albeit not continually through euery age in like perfection. But this we may see, what it is to haue a Prince learned him selfe, who feelyng and tastyng the price and value of science and knowledge: is therby not onely the more apt to rule, but also to instructe and frame hys subiectes, from a rude barbaritie, to a more ciuile congruencie of life, and to a better vnderstāndyng of thynges: as we see in this famous Prince to happen. Cōcernyng whose first education & bringyng vp, although it was somewhat late before he entred any letter: yet such was the apt towardnes and docilitie of his nature, that being a child, he had the Saxon Poemes (such as were vsed then in his owne toung) by hart & memory. Who afterward with yeares and tyme grew vp in such perfectiō of learning and knowledge, in so much that, as mine author sayth, Nullus Anglorum suerit vel intelligēdo acutior, vel in interpretando elegantior. The whiche thyng in him the more was to be marueled, for that he was. xij. yeares of age before he knew any letter. Then his mother, careful and tender ouer him, hauyng by chaūce a booke in her hād, which he would fayne haue: promised to geue him the same, so that he would learne it. Wherupon he for greedines of the booke eftsones learned the letters, MarginaliaEx historia Guliel. de Regibus Ang.hauyng to his scholemaster Pleimundus, after Byshop of Canterbury. And so dayly grew more and more in knowledge, that at length, as myne author sayth, Plurimam partem Romanæ bibliothecæ Anglorum auribus dedit, optimam prædam peregrinarum mercium ciuium vsibus conuertens. MarginaliaPleimūdus teacher to K. Alfred, & after byshop of Caunterb.That is. A great part of the Latin Library he translated into English, conuertyng to the vses of his Citizens, a noble pray of foren ware and marchaūdise, &c. MarginaliaBookes trāslated out of Latine by k. Alfrede.Of whiche bookes by him and through him translated, was Orosius: Pastorale Gregorij. The history of Bede: Boetius de consolatione Philosophiæ Also a booke of his owne makyng & in his owne toung, which in the English speech he called a hādbooke, in Greeke called it Enchiridion, in Latine a Manuell. Besides the history of Bede translated into the Saxons toūg, he also himselfe compiled a story in the same speech, called the story of Alfrede, &c. whiche both bookes in the Saxons toung I haue seene, though the language I do not vnderstād. And as he was learned himselfe excellently well, so likewise did he inflame all his countrey men to the loue of liberall letters, as the wordes of the story reporteth, Illos præmijs, hos iniurijs hortando, neminem illiteratum ad quamlibet curiæ dignitatem aspirate permittens. MarginaliaNone permitted to haue any dignitie in the court, except he were learned.
Polychro. lib. 6. cap. 1.
That is. He exhorted and styrred his people to the study of learning some with giftes, some by iniuries, suffering no man to aspire to any dignitie in the Court, except he were learned. Moreouer an other story thus sayth, speakyng of his nobles: Optimates quoq̀ suos ad literaturam addiscendam in tantum prouocauit, vt ipsi filios suos, vel saltem si filios non haberent, seruos suos literis commendarent. That is. Also his nobles so much he did allure to the embracyng of good letters, that they set all their sonnes to schoole: or if they had no sonnes, yet their seruauntes they caused to be learned. Whereby the common prouerbe may be founde not so common, as true. Such as is the Prince, such be the subiectes, &c. He began moreouer to translate the MarginaliaThe Psalter translated into english by kyng Alfrede.Psalter into English, and had almost finished the same had not death preuented him. Guliel. de Regib. Angl. In the Prologue of the booke intituled Pastorale Grego. thus he writeth: declaryng þe cause why he was so earnest and diligent in translatyng good bookes from Latine into English, shewyng the cause therof, why he so did, as foloweth: Quòd ecclesiæ in quibus innumeræ priscæ bibliothecæ continebātur, cum libris a Danis incensæ sint: quòdq̀ in tota insula studium literarum ita abolitum esset vt quisq̀ minus timeret capitis periculū, quam studiorū exercita adire. Quapropter se in hoc Anglis suis consulere, &c. That is. MarginaliaThe cause why the K. turned Latine bookes into Englishe.The cause was for that innumerable auncient Libraries which were kept in Churches, were consumed with fire by the Danes: And that men had rather suffer perill of their lyfe, then to follow the exercise of studyes: And therefore he thought thereby to prouide before for the people of the English nation, &c.

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It is told of him both in Polychron. Malmesb, Iornalensis, and other storis mo, wherof I haue no names: that he seyng his countrey (namely Westward) to be so desolate of scholes and learnyng, partly to profite himselfe, partly to furnishe his countrey & subiectes with better knowledge, MarginaliaLearned men sent for, and placed about the k.first sent for Grimboldus a learned Monke out of Fraūce to come into England. Also sent for an other learned man out from the partes of Wales, whose name was Asserion, whom he made Bishop of Shyreborne. Item out of Mercia, he sent for Werefrithus, Byshop of Wicetor: MarginaliaThe dialoges of Gregory translated.
Neotus an Abbot.
The scholes and vniuersitie of Oxford first begon by k. Alfrede.
The new colledge in Oxford.
to whom he put the Dialogues of Gregory to be translated. But chiefly he vsed the counsell of Neotus, who then was counted for an holy man, and Abbot of a certaine Monastery in Cornwalle. By the aduisement of which Neotus, he sent for these learned mē about recited: and also ordained certaine scholes of diuerse artes, first at Oxford, and also fraunchesed the same with many great liberties. Guliel. Iornalens. Fabia. cap. 171. Wherof perhappes the schole, now called the New Colledge (first then begon of this Neotus) might take his name: whiche (afterward peraduenture) the Byshops of Winchester after a larger maner did reedifie, & inlarge with greater possessions.

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MarginaliaIoan. Scotus.Moreouer, amōg other learned men which were about kyng Alfrede: historyes make mention of Iohannes Scotus (a godly Diuine, and a learned Philosopher) but not that Scotus, which now we cal Duns. For that Iohannes Scotus came after this, many yeares. This Iohannes is described to be of a sharpe wyt, of great eloquence, and well expert in the Greeke toung: pleasaunt and mery of nature and cōditions, as appeareth by diuers his doynges and aūswers. First he commyng to Fraunce out of his owne country of Scotland, by reason of the great tumultes of warre, was there worthely intertayned: & for his learnyng had in great estimation of Carolus Caluus the French kyng, MarginaliaThe aunswere of Ioannes Scotus to the French kyng.whom he commonly and familiarly vsed euer to haue about him, both at table, and in chamber. Vpon a tyme the kyng sittyng at meate, & seyng somethyng (belike) in this Iohn Scot, which seemed not very courtly: cast forth a mery word, askyng of him, what difference there was betwixt a Scot, and a Sot? Whereunto the Scot sittyng ouer agaynst the kyng, somewhat lower, replyed agayne sodaynly, rather then aduisedly (yet merely) saying: Mensa tantum, that is, the table onely: importyng therby himselfe to be the Scot, and so calling the kyng a Sot by craft. Which word how other princes would haue taken to stomake, I know not: but this Charles, for the great reuerence he bare to his learnyng, turned it but to a laughter among his nobles, and so let it passe.

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An other tyme, the same kyng being at dinner, was serued with a certaine dishe of fish: where in, were two great fishes, and a litle one. After the kyng had taken therof his repast, setteth downe to Iohannes Scotus the foresayd fish, to distribute vnto the other ij. Clarkes sittyng there with him: which were two tall and mighty persons, he himselfe beyng but a litle mā. Iohannes taketh the fish, of the which the two great he taketh and carueth to himselfe: the litle fish he reacheth to the other two. The Kyng perceauing this his diuision thus made, reprehended the same. Then Iohannes, whose manner was euer to finde out some honest matter to delite the king, aunswered to him agayne, prouing his diuision to stand iust and equall. For here (sayth he) be two great, and a litle, poynting to the two great fishes and himselfe: And likewise here agayne is a litle one and two great, pointing to the litle fish, and two great persons. I pray you (sayth he) what oddes is there, or what distribution can be more equall? Whereat the kyng with his nobles, beyng much delighted, laughed merely. MarginaliaIoan. Scotus translated Hierarchiam Dionisii frō greeke to Latine.

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At the request of this Charles surnamed Bawld, the Frenche kyng, this Scotus translated the booke of Dionysius, intituled De Hierarchia, frō Greeke into Latin, word

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