Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library

By the end of the 12th Century seven Universities had been established in Europe

(Italy) by Charlemagne in 774, Oxford by King Alfred in 872, followed by Paris, Rome, Milan, Bologna and Cordova.

Apart from these Universities there were numerous 11 school" now extinct, or absorbed by them. These schools were located around these Universities. Most of these Universities specialised in particular subjects; Salerno medicine; Bologna ‑ law; Paris ‑ philosophy, theology and pure mathematics.

The basis of the University education was a thorough grounding in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. These later came to be called the "Carriculum". That carriculum belongs to all mankind because men of all countries and centuries have made use of it ‑ Grammer, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy.

As had been set down in the "Schools" of Plato, Aristotle, Socratese, and all other early centres of Interlectual Study, these subjects were divided into two parts. The Trivium, which consisted of Grammer, Rhetoric and Dialects (Logic). And the Quadrivium which consisted of Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy and Music.

By the 13th Cent. universities were much influenced by a massive volume entitled "The Surnma", written by Thomas Aquinas and up to 10 other people.

About this time Aristotle's treatise on Logic apeared on the university scene having surfaced from the Moorish (Arab) University at Cordova. Scholasticism then made an attempt to reconcile the Theology of Thomas Aquinas with the Logic of Aristotle. This developed into continual disputes and arguments between the despotic leaders of the two schools of thought, this was particularly evident in the English Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Freemasonry, from its antient beginnings, never had schools that were open to any who were NOT "apprenticed" to the trade. Their "Candidates" were instructed in the "Trade Secrets" of the Craft by their Master who was a Craftsman in his own right.. In their own "Schools" or Guilds the finer points of intellectual education were taught, together with public behavour and deportment in high society and practical hygiene. For these future Craftsmen would meet and converse with Kings, Archbishops and wealthy Landowners, some of whom could only just write their own name. The 14th Cent. work, by an unknown scribe, known today as the "Regius Poem is a compilation of requirements for an Apprentice and Craftsman and Master to acquire to meet such a situation. The "Regius Poem is dated at 1390 but its contents go back to a much earlier unknown date in antiquity.

The "Comacine Masters" and the "Roman Collegia" were groups similar to the Mason's Company of London, a Guild whose extant written records start in 1670, but was in action in 1356 when a group of Journeymen threatened to assault others who were NOT of the Guild and were prepared to accept lower wages for their work ‑ a demarcation dispute!

In conclusion, it can be seen that the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences have played an important part in the pursuit of Interlectual development of mankind. Grammer, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic Geometry, Music and Astronomy each have had and still do have an important part in our lives. Just think of each subject, simply and how it applies to you, your development and your future.

Freemasonry has accepted these subjects ‑ via the "Regius Poem"(?) ‑ as a basic guide to our work (in its widest sence) and our duty to mankind in the broadest application.

Ref: ‑ Freemasons Pocket Reference Book Pick & Knight
Pocket History of Freemasonry ditto
Everymans Encyclopedia.