Paris at the time of Philippe Auguste

Everyday life

Teaching and university

The university was founded in July 1200, when its privileges were granted by Philippe-Auguste. Its origins were in the ecclesiastical schools where medicine, theology, canon and civil law were taught. In 1215 we find the words "universitatis magistrorum et scolarium". Its overall head was the pope.

The reputation of Paris's university grew rapidly and as a result was the cause of the first housing shortage. Many young people seeking education decided to come to Paris. In those days a whole year's rent had to be paid in advance ! The first guest houses can be said to have operated from this time.

In 1215 the pope decided to have regulated rents, set by two of the masters at the university, in order to stop rent abuses (in more ways thaN one, since some landlords were very generous, having pity on poor students). Landlords not complying with these fixed rents were banned from letting for 5 years.

J. Baldwin tells us that in 1210 "the chronicler royal notes that Paris rivals Athens and Egypt as a place of scholarship and attracts students from around the world".

In 1213 the various faculties instituted procedures for masters to acquire a license to teach. Two years later they formed a true professional body. In 1219, the Masters of Arts were so numerous that they began to operate within national groupings. In 1221 the university was granted its own seal.

Heron de Villefosse cites "the city, says a 13th century preacher, is a mill in which all God's wheat is milled to feed the whole world. It is milled by the lessons and by the discussions of the masters. The city is the oven and the kitchen in which the bread of the whole world is baked and the food of the world is prepared."

At the start of the 13th century, one of the first colleges founded in Paris was at Place Maubert, near to some of the present-day "premieres ecoles". It was a "Constantinople college" or "Greek College" founded in 1206 for Greek students. But it fell into decay and was bought in 1362 by Guillaume de la Marche who created a new college in 1402. This was combined with the larger College de la Marche in 1422. Place Maubert was main centre for students to gather. The students, who were standing up, listened to the masters who lectured from a raised position. Aristotelean philosophy and physics were taught. Later the students moved to the colleges of "La montagne Saint-Genevieve". Afterwards, Place Maubert was given over to the gallows, and to torture by the wheel and at the stake, particularly under Francis I.