Conflict Environment and Associative Spirit (Internal and External Communications at the Origins of the University of Paris)
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Conflict Environment and Associative Spirit (Internal and External Communications at the Origins of the University of Paris)
Publication type
Pavel Uvarov 
Occupation: Senior Research Fellow
Affiliation: Institute of World History RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
The formation period of the first, still spontaneous, universities lasted more than a hundred years. Numerous books and papers treat this process, but it remains unclear why it was precisely the corporative form that has prevailed over the others, the form that has determined the peculiar qualities of the western type of organization of intellectual activity as well as its further success. The usual references to corporatism inherent in medieval society, to the examples of craft and merchant guilds that could inspire the university masters and students, do not convince. It is well known that the scholars occasionally paid attention to the world of craft, but there is no evidence that the experience of craft and merchant associations could exert impact on urban intellectuals — who had set about their quest for organization even before the flourishing of craft corporations and merchant guilds. This article focuses on the emergence of the University of Paris whose history has been more fully studied than that of the majority of other universities. Should this process be called ‘natural’? One can speak about ‘origins’ that certainly had their own specific reasons. However, it is scarcely possible to establish a rigid causal connection between various reasons and motives. While considering each of the main episodes of this process it is necessary to take into account the intellectual conditions, the personal factors of the leading masters, as well as the particular distribution of forces both at the level of city authorities, secular and religious, and at the level of the Roman Curia. The exchange of experience with other proto-university centres, such as Bologna and Oxford, was likewise very important. All this notwithstanding, historians tend to underestimate the spatial factor, the evolution of the administrative structure of the local church, and the changes in the urban layout. It is probably not a mere coincidence that the construction of the wall of Philip Augustus was completed at the same time as the struggle of the masters for the recognition of their corporation markedly increased. An analysis of the situation may take into account the experience of Étienne Pasquier who had described the origins of the University of Paris at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. The «autogenesis» of the University of Paris seems more the result of a combination of unique circumstances and the exception rather than the rule. However, the form discovered in Paris was quickly picked up at other educational centers. The emergence of the University in Paris can be compared with other evolutionary breakthroughs in the history of mankind. Keywords: medieval universities, Parisian schools, University of Paris, university corporation, corporatism, communications, conflict, Bishop of Paris, Papacy, topography of Paris, process of territorialization.
medieval universities, Parisian schools, University of Paris, university corporation, corporatism, communications, conflict, Bishop of Paris, Papacy, topography of Paris, process of territorialization
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