Medieval Schools: Roman Britain to Renaissance England by Nicholas Orme - review by Dan Jones

Dan Jones

Six of the Best

Medieval Schools: Roman Britain to Renaissance England


Yale University Press 352pp £25 order from our bookshop

The heyday of English schooling is set somewhere in the legends surrounding the great public schools of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – the playing fields of Eton, Rugby under Dr Arnold, and Mr Quelch’s reign of terror over Greyfriars Remove. Games, gowns, Latin and the birch (or their modern equivalents: PE, blazers, applied maths and permanent exclusion) all seem to be of an era long past the Elizabethan age with which Nicholas Orme ends his fascinating study of medieval schools. 

In fact, the way children have been educated has remained surprisingly constant in this country for at least 1,000 years. Orme’s argument is that ‘apart from schooling for all … there is hardly a concept, institution, or practice of modern education that did not exist, somewhere or other,

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