By 1535, England had a robust and growing number of Latin grammar schools that aspired to teach some form of humanist Latin. The very reason for the early spread of humanist ideas, however, nearly proved the downfall of the Latin education in general and the educational fashion with it. Pre-Reformation English humanism had proven itself to be entirely compatible with late medieval religious beliefs about the role of intercessory prayers in the life of the church; schools founded by humanists maintained traditional expectations about the role of school as religious organization. Thus, when Henry VIII and Edward VI attempted to reform the church and stamp out practices they regarded as superstitious many schools vanished with the institutions that had been outlawed.
This presentation is based on Eleanor Pettus Schneider's 2015 dissertation for her PhD at the University of Notre Dame. She does not use the term, but I presume she is discussing in part the suppression of the Chantry Chapels which combined grammar schools for the poor and chapels for praying for the dead and offering Masses for the repose of their souls.
In her interview on the National Association of Scholars website, she explains some more about her research and what she wants to do next with a scholarship she had received:
How will the Fraser Barron Scholarship help you do your research?
Looking at more individual schools. Many of my conclusions are guided by large document sets—the returns of the Henry VIII and Edward VI chantry commissions, the surrenders of the monasteries, and the Latin grammar publication records. But these documents need to be fleshed out through more local stories— individual school fights for survival. The Fraser Barron will let me visit three such institutions.
What excites you about your research?
I love teasing out the definition of “education”. What made Renaissance society invest so heavily in their schools? How did they understand the connection between education and the soul? The scholar and the community? And how did the Tudor government so misunderstand the actual school endowment structures that Reformation-era legislation threatened the whole project?
I wonder how John Colet's humanist curriculum survived at St. Paul's School? Did his Latin grammar, written with Erasmus and William Lily, endure the neglect that Schneider saw in the publication of other Latin grammar books?
Image Credit: John Colet, Dean of St. Paul's (public domain the USA)