Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

"The Student Will Not Leave the City... [without Giving] Back [to His Creditors] the... Books"

A note on Frederick II Hohenstaufen's 1224 Statues establishing the University of Naples:

Medieval Sourcebook: Frederick II: Lictere Generales, establishing the University of Naples, 1224: These are the conditions that we offer to the students: First, that there will be doctors and teachers in every Faculty. We assure the students, wherever they come from, that they will be able to come, stay and return without any risk to their persons or goods. The best houses will be given to them, and their rent will be at most two ounces of gold. All the houses will be rented for a sum up to that amount, based on an estimate by two citizens and two students. There will be loans given to students, based on their needs, by those who are designated to do so, with their books pawned as collateral, which books will be temporarily returned to the student after receiving appropriate guarantees from other students. The student will not leave the city until he has paid back his debt, or has given back the pawned books returned to him temporarily. Such pawns will not be requested by the creditor as long as the student remains in school...

If you finish your term at university and haven't repaid your student loans, your creditors will take your books and hold them hostage until you do repay your debts.

According to Greg Clark, by the eighteenth century in England there was one book copy printed per year for every five people in the country. Go back to the late fifteenth century--just post-Gutenberg--and there is one book copy printed each year for every 200 people. Go back to 1300 or so, and there is one book copy each year hand-copied for every 1000 people. Or so we guess.

In the eighteenth century, a book copy sold for the same share of national productivity that $500 is today: not an overwhelming expense, but a significant one--the cost of a good but not extravagant TV, say. At the end of the fifteenth century, a book copy sold for the same share of national productivity that $1400 is today--the equivalent relative expense to this laptop I am typing on. Back in the thirteenth century, a book copy sold for the same share of national product that $14,000 is today. It was a substantial deal.

Thus back in the thirteenth century people took books seriously. Here, from 1271, is a document recording a success of the University of Paris's development office:

Medieval Sourcebook: University of Paris: Courses in Theology [1271] and Medicine [1270-74]: To all the officers of the court at Paris who shall read this document, greeting. in the Lord. We make known that John of Orleans, constituted master in our presence, canon and chancellor of Paris, acknowledges and admits that he has received and had from the venerable master Nicholas, archdeacon of the church at Paris, formerly chancellor of the aforesaid church at Paris, the books named below - to be lent to the poor students studying theology, according to a certain clause contained in the will of master Stephen of blessed memory, formerly arch-deacon of Canterbury, which is inserted in the present document, as follows:

I will and command that my books on theology shall be delivered to the chancellor of Paris who, for the sake of piety, shall lend them to poor students studying theology at Paris who are without books; in such a manner, however, that each chancellor each year, shall receive back the aforesaid books and after receiving them shall again deliver and lend them, each year, to the poor students, as shall seem expedient.

The names of the books are as follows: the Bible complete with a glossary. Also, Genesis and Exodus, glossed, in one volume. Also, the books of Solomon, glossed, in one volume. Also, Exodus, glossed by itself. Also, Job, glossed by itself. Also, Ezekiel, glossed by itself. Also, the Gospels, glossed by themselves, in one volume. Also, the psalter, with a complete glossary. Also, the four books of Sentences [of Peter Lombard]. Also, the books of Numbers. Also, Joshua, Judith, Ruth, Deuteronomy, glossed, in one volume. Also, the four books of Kings, Chronicles, first and second. Also, Esdras, first and second of Maccabees, Amos, glossed, in one volume. Also, the Twelve Prophets, glossed, in one volume. Also, the Psalter, glossed and complete. Also, the Epistles of Paul, glossed. Also, the Psalter, glossed and complete. Also, the Scholastic Histories. [probably the Scholastic history of Peter le Mangeur] Also the four Gospels, glossed. Also, the Epistles of Paul, glossed, with a smaller glossary. Also, the Psalter, glossed and complete. Also, the first and second books of Maccabees, glossed as far as the tenth chapter. Also, the Gospel of Mark. The Gospels, glossed.

We, the above-mentioned official, have thought indeed that, in testimony and witness of all the above-mentioned, we ought to place on the present writing the seal of the court at Paris, together with the seal of the aforesaid chancellor; hoping and asking that his successors, who shall be chancellors, shall order and do with the aforesaid books, for the sake of the divine piety, according to the contents of the aforesaid clause.

Done in the year of our Lord, I271, Wednesday, the feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude.

Also, the Bible, in two volumes, with marginal notes, bishop Stephen presented. Also, the original of the Sentences of master Peter Lombard, in a certain volume, bound in calf, now somewhat worn, with round copper nails in the covers.


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