The educational landscape of later medieval Western Europe was indeed a wide-open space. Students and teachers famously travelled beyond their own political and cultural hegemonies to attend schools and universities across the continent. This was enabled by the widespread use of Latin as the pedagogical lingua franca. However, the borderless world of medieval education extended far beyond the universities. This paper will demonstrate that at every level, from children learning their letters to the books used by pupils studying grammar, education was effectively a single system in Latin-speaking Europe. Teachers and purveyors of educational materials were connected to long-distance networks that allowed them to respond quickly to new developments in teaching and in textbooks. Personnel moved from community to community or from state to state, offering instruction. And the education acquired allowed recipients entrée into a much wider world. Using information on individuals (such as the itinerant Jose Bade Ascensius), books used, and pedagogical approaches, this paper will act as a timely reminder of the benefits that this pan-European education system provided for people in the later Middle Ages.
A number of factors play a role in the formation and development of borders. I will aim to shed light on those factors using an example from the Latin Middle Ages: the borders of the Nations of the University of Paris. The ‘Nations’ at the University of Paris were institutions formed by members of the faculty of arts. They emerged from a barely retraceable process in the middle of the 13th century: the French, Norman, Picard and English (later German) Nation. ‘Natio’ in this context is used to describe origin or birth, and scholars were members of the Nation of their respective geographical provenance. The French Nation included the Iberian peninsula. The English-German Nation included Northern, Eastern and Southern Europe, and parts of modern day north-eastern Netherlands, Belgium and western Germany. The Picard Nation claimed parts of modern day Netherlands, of Belgium, and of north-eastern France. The Norman Nation covered the formerly English north-west of France.
Throughout the medieval period, numerous centres of power and decision were established in Iberia, and new political borders were instituted. From a linguistic perspective, the delimitation of political frontiers often broke up ancient units of language identity: once constituted, these borders favoured different evolutionary tendencies and led to the spatial redistribution of linguistic units. However, as this paper will attempt to demonstrate, on the frontier between Portugal and Galicia (which was established with the independence of Portugal in 1143), the separation was gradual: with regard to language (and indeed to other aspects), this border represented a porous zone of intense contact until the end of the Middle Ages.