This is the assignment page for the topic "Universities and the Scholastic Method" for J. B. Owens's sections of the lower-division undergraduate course, History 101, Foundation of Western Civilization. The sole purpose of this page and all of the pages linked to it is to provide an orientation for those students enrolled in History 101.

You may return to the course main page or to the course syllabus.

Universities and the Scholastic Method

ID: Scholasticism, Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.), deduction, syllogism, definition, Paris (theology), Bologna (law), Salerno [Montpellier] (medicine), Waldensians, Cathari-Albigensians, Francis of Assisi (ca. 1182-1226), Franciscans, Dominic (ca. 1170-1221), Dominicans, Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216), Inquisition, Avicenna (980-1037), Averroës (1126-1198), Maimonides (1135-1204), Peter Abelard (ca. 1079-1142), Sic et Non, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Summa contra gentiles, Pavia, Bologna, Irnerius (d. ca. 1128 C.E.), Emperor Justinian (r. 527-565), Corpus Iuris Civilis, Tribonian (d. 546 C.E.), Codex, Digest, Institutes, Novels, Gratian, Decretum (ca. 1140), "Concordance of Discordant Canons", Corpus Iuris Canonici, Henry de Bracton (d. 1268), De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae (ca. 1250), Lex regia: "quod principi placuit, legis habet vigorem", D.1,3,31: Princeps legibus solutus [est], Lex digna: Princeps legibus alligatus [est], John of Salisbury (ca. 1115-1180), Policratus, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Summa Theologica, Henry de Bracton (d. 1268), De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae (ca. 1250): "Rex non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege"/"The king ought not to be under any man but under God and the law."

  1. Why were heretical movements like the Waldensians and the Albigensians so important to "medieval" Christianity?
  2. What influence did the arabic-speaking world have on Latin Christendom in the Central Middle Ages (1000-1300)?
  3. Why were European Latin Christian thinkers of the 12th and 13th centuries so interested in the Aristotelian intellectual tradition?
  4. Why were universities founded?
  5. Why did Aristotelian scholastic logic become the intellectual basis of the university curriculum in the Central Middle Ages?
  6. Why was Thomas Aquinas so interested in scholastic logic?
  7. Why did Thomas Aquinas organize his Summa contra gentiles in such a rigid, repetitious manner?
  8. Why did "medieval" European students want to study "Justinian's Code"?
  9. Why did Thomas Aquinas argue in his Summa Theologica that laws must be the product of reason when he agreed with the Emperor Justinian that the ruler's will has the force of law?
  10. Why did John of Salisbury (ca. 1115-1180) argue that a monarch must obey the law even though he was not bound by any legal norms?
  11. Why was Gratian's compilation of the Decretum so important to the medieval Church?
  12. Why would the existence of written law codes in the Central Middle Ages serve as a check on the monarch's exercise of authority? Discuss particularly the cases of John of England, Louis IX of France, and Louis X of France, as well as the theoretical positions of John of Salisbury and Thomas Aquinas.


Owens, ch. 8; Kishlansky, 58 (Aristotle), 64-65, 130-132 (especially about the Codex Justinianus), 141-144, 183-186 ("Scholasticism and Urban Intellectual Life"); Aristotle [384-322 B.C.E.], read Part II and Part XI of the Politics at the URL: []; at the following URL, read Parts 3 and 7 of Book II of Aristotle's Physics: []; John of Salisbury [ca. 1115-1180], Policratus, read Book Four, chapters I through IV, at the following URL: [].

If you feel brave, I suggest (but do not require) that you read the chapter "Aristotle's Logic" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at the URL: [].

Mail questions and comments to (owenjack - at -, or send a message now. Please include your name and e-mail address in the body of your message.

All contents copyright © 1995-2006.
J. B. Owens
All rights reserved.

Revised: 11 May 2006