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letters he rejects the idea that the two, the Lutheran and the humanist movements, had anything whatever in common; asserting that even Luther himself had never claimed to found his revolt against the Church on the principles of scholarship and learning. To him, the storm of the Reformation appeared so far as concerned the revival of learning-as a catastrophe. Had the tempest not risen, he had the best expectations of a general literary renaissance and of witnessing a revival of interest in Biblical and patristic studies among churchmen. It was the breath of bitter and endless controversy initiated in the Lutheran revolt and the consequent misunderstandings and enmities which withered his hopes.
There remains, however, the broader question as to the real position of the ecclesiastical authorities generally, in regard to the revival of learning. So far as England is concerned, their attitude is hardly open to doubt in view of the positive testimony of Erasmus, which is further borne out by an examination of the material available for forming a judgment. This proves beyond all question, not only that the Church in England on the eve of the change did not refuse the light, but that, both in its origin and later development, the movement owed much to the initiative and encouragement of English churchmen.
It is not necessary here to enter very fully into the subject of the general revival of learning in Europe during the course of the fifteenth century. At the very beginning of that period what Gibbon calls “a new and perpetual flame” was enkindled in Italy. As in the thirteenth century, so then it was the study of the literature and culture of ancient Greece that re-enkindled the lamp of learning in the Western World. Few things, indeed, are more remarkable than the influence of Greek forms and models on the Western World. The very language seems as if destined by Providence to do for the Christian nations
" Ibid., Ep. 751.
of Europe what in earlier ages it had done for pagan Rome. As Dr. Döllinger has pointed out, this is “a fact of immense importance, which even in these days it is worth while to weigh and place in its proper light,” since " the whole of modern civilisation and culture is derived from Greek sources. Intellectually we are the offspring of the union of the ancient Greek classics with Hellenised Judaism.” One thing is clear on the page of history : that the era of great intellectual activity synchronised with re-awakened interests in the Greek classics and Greek language in such a way that the study of Greek may conveniently be taken as representing a general revival of letters.
By the close of the fourteenth century, the ever-increasing impotence of the Imperial sway on the Bosphorus, and the ever-growing influence of the Turk, compelled the Greek emperors to look to Western Christians for help to arrest the power of the infidels, which, like a flood, threatened to overwhelm the Eastern empire. Three emperors in succession journeyed into the Western world to implore assistance in their dire necessity, and though their efforts failed to save Constantinople, the historian detects in these pilgrimages of Greeks to the Courts of Europe the providential influence which brought about the renaissance of letters. “The travels of the three emperors," writes Gibbon, “were unavailing for their temporal, or perhaps their spiritual salvation, but they were productive of a beneficial consequence, the revival of the Greek learning in Italy, from whence it was propagated to the last nations of the West and North.”
What is true of Italy may well be true of other countries and places. The second of these pilgrim emperors, Manuel, the son and successor of Palæologus, crossed the Alps, and after a stay in Paris, came over the sea into England. In December, 1400, he landed at Dover, and was, with a large retinue of Greeks, entertained at the monastery of Christchurch, Canterbury. It requires little stretch of imagination to suppose that the memory of such a visit would have lingered long in the cloister of Canterbury, and it is hardly perhaps by chance that it is here that half a century later are to be found the first serious indications of a revival of Greek studies. Moreover, it is evident that other Greek envoys followed in subsequent times, and even the great master and prodigy of learning, Manuel Chrysoloras himself, found his way to our shores, and it is hardly an assumption, in view of the position of Canterbury—on the high road from Dover to Londonto suppose to Christchurch also. It was from his arrival in Italy, in 1396, that may be dated the first commencement of systematic study of the Greek classics in the West. The year 1408 is given for his visit to England.
There are indications early in the fifteenth century of a stirring of the waters in this country. Guarini, a pupil of Chrysoloras, became a teacher of fame at Ferrara, where he gathered round him a school of disciples which included several Englishmen. Such were Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester ;8 Robert Fleming, a learned ecclesiastic; John Free, John Gundthorpe, and William Gray, Bishop of Ely; whilst another Italian, Aretino, attracted by his fame another celebrated Englishman, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, to his classes. These, however, were individual cases, and their studies, and even the books they brought back, led to little in the way of systematic work in England at the old classical models. The fall of
Remigio Sabbadini, La Scuola e gli studi di Guarino Guarini Veronese, pp. 217-18.
2 R. Sabbadini, Guarino Veronese et il suo epistolario, p, 57.
3 The Earl was a confrater and special friend of the monks of Christchurch, Canterbury. In 1468-69, Prior Goldstone wrote to the Earl, who had been abroad“ on pilgrimage" for four years, to try and obtain for Canterbury the usual jubilee privileges of 1470. In his Obit in the Canterbury Necrology (MS. Arund. 68 f. 450) he is described as “vir undecumque doctissimus, omnium liberalium artium divinarumque simul ac secularium litterarum scientia peritissimus."
Constantinople in 1453 gave the required stimulus here, as in Italy. Among the fugitives were many Greek scholars of eminence, such as Chalcocondylas, Andronicus, Constantine and John Lascaris, who quickly made the schools of Italy famous by their teaching. Very soon the fame of the new masters spread to other countries, and students from all parts of the Western World found their way to their lecture-halls in Rome and the other teaching centres established in the chief cities of Northern Italy.
First among the scholars who repaired thither from England to drink in the learning of ancient Greece and bring back to their country the new spirit, we must place two Canterbury monks named Selling and Hadley. Born somewhere about 1430, William Selling became a monk at Christchurch, Canterbury, somewhere about 1448. There seems some evidence to show that his family name was Tyll, and that, as was frequently, if not generally, the case, on his entering into religion, he adopted the name of Selling from his birthplace, some five miles from Faversham in Kent. It is probable that Selling, after having passed through the claustral school at Canterbury, on entering the Benedictine Order was sent to finish his studies at Canterbury College, Oxford. Here he certainly was in 1450, for in that year he writes a long and what is described as an elegant letter as a student at Canterbury College to his Prior, Thomas Goldstone, at Christchurch,
i Leland (De Scriptoribus Britannicis, 482) calls himn Tillæus, and this has been generally translated as Tilly. In the Canterbury Letter Books (Rolls Series, iii. 291) it appears that Prior Selling was greatly interested in a boy named Richard Tyll. In 1475, Thomas Goldstone, the warded of Canterbury Hall, writes to Prior Selling about new clothes and a tunic and other expenses “ scolaris tui Ricardi Tyll.” In the same volume, p. 315, is a letter of fraternity given to “Agnes, widow of William Tyll," and on February 7, 1491, she received permission to be buried where her husband, William Tyll, had been interred, “juxta tumbam sancti Thomæ martyris.”
Canterbury. He was ordained priest, and celebrated his first mass at Canterbury, in September, 1456.9
In 1464 William Selling obtained leave of his Prior and convent to go with a companion, William Hadley, to study in the foreign universities for three years, during which time they visited and sat under the most celebrated teachers at Padua, Bologna, and Rome. At Bologna, according to Leland, Selling was the pupil of the celebrated Politian, “with whom, on account of his aptitude in acquiring the classical elegance of ancient tongues, he formed a familiar and lasting friendship."5 In 1466 and 1467 we find the monks, Selling and his companion Hadley, at Bologna, where apparently the readers in Greek then were Lionorus and Andronicus, and where, on the 22nd March, 1466, Selling took his degree in theology, his companion taking his in the March of the following year."
Of this period of work, Leland says :—“ His studies progressed. He indeed imbued himself with Greek; everywhere he industriously and at great expense collected many Greek books. Nor was his care less in procuring old Latin MSS., which shortly after he took with him, as the most estimable treasures, on his return to Canterbury.” 8
His obituary notice in the Christchurch Necrology
· Canterbury Letters (Camden Soc.) pp. 13, 15.
2 C. C. C. C. MS. 417 f. 540 : “ Item hoc anno videlicet 6 Kal. Oct. D. Willms Selling celebravit primam suam missam et fuit sacerdos summa missæ per totam illam ebdomadam.”
3 Literæ Cantuar. (Rolls Series), iii. 239.
* Leland, De Scriptoribus Britannicis, p. 482. Cf. also Canterbury Letters (Camden Soc.), p. xxvii.
5 Leland, ut supra.
6 Umberto Dallari, I rotuli dei Lettori, &c., dello studio Bolognese dal 1384 al 1799, p. 51.
7 Serafino Mazetti, Memorie storiche sopra l'università di Bologna, p. 308.
8 Leland, ut supra.