The Medieval Liberal Arts Curriculum:Grammar

For a long time in the history of Western education, Grammar was a discipline that occupied a central place in the educational curriculum. In both ancient Greece and Rome, Grammar was considered central to the business of learning, and a natural first introduction to the later study of Rhetoric and Dialectic.

In both ancient times as well as in the Middle Ages the study of Grammar did not mean, as it does today,the analysis of parts of speech or how sentences are constructed. Then, Grammar involved studying how words are used to produce effects, different contexts, meanings and expressions. The ultimate intent of studying Grammar was to allow students to not only use language as effectively as possible, but to be critically discerning as to the nuances of linguistic expression.

The study of Grammar in the Middle Ages also included the study of poetry and poetic structure. Students were expected to grasp the ways in which rhythm, different meters and stanzaic forms influenced the success or failure of poetic expression. The curriculum of Grammar in Medieval times thus incoporated the study of the great poets from both the ancient times as well as those of the contemporary era. In Medieval universities, Grammar was also used as theoretical tool for the analysis of scriptures, biblical commentaries, and secular writings.

Medieval and Renaissance Home Page
Medieval Universities
Medieval University Curriculum
Education of Women

The Medieval Curriculum

St.John the Baptist by Grunewald

The Trivium

The Quadrivium