Medieval Schools

Schools in medieval Europe typically fell under the jurisdiction and care of the Church. 

Since the clergy and the monks were usually the only educated and literate people in early medieval Europe, they were naturally assigned the task of imparting education at these schools.


Formal education at schools was largely limited to the boys hailing from wealthy families whereas girls were educated at home by their mothers. Peasants and serfs were also forbidden from gaining an education at these schools.

Large Spanish Medieval Monastery

Three main types of schools existed in medieval Europe. These include monastic schools, grammar schools, and elementary song schools.

Elementary Song-School

Medieval Schools were mainly controlled by the Church in Medieval Times and the main types of Medieval schools were elementary song schools, grammar schools, and monastic schools.

The elementary song school, as its name suggests, was a school where the most basic type of education was imparted to the boys.

In fact, in many cases, the education imparted at an elementary song school was largely limited to the reading and singing of Latin hymns and songs.

Medieval Songs Barbireau Illum

Although the singing was limited to ecclesiastical literature, it helped the boys understand the basics of the Latin language and laid the foundations for their subsequent education in the language.

Medieval-Monk-In-Robe-Writes-with Goose-Feather

Medieval monk in robe and hood writes with a goose feather, black background, secret ritual in dark cape.

The elementary school itself was attached to a church and was monitored by church authorities. In some cases, if the church to which the school was attached had a particularly learned priest, he would impart other forms of education to the students, for instance teaching them to write.

Thomas Aquinas Famous Medieval People

Important Facts about Medieval Schools:

There were three types of schools in the medieval period: elementary song schools, grammar schools, and monastic schools. Education was limited to the rich and the wealthy while the poor were usually forbidden from attaining education.

The language of education in medieval Europe was Latin. It was taught as the first subject in grammar schools.

Girls could not get a formal education in medieval Europe, even if they had aristocratic origins. The Church overlooked and monitored the imparting of education in medieval Europe.

Grammar Schools

In contrast to elementary song school, grammar schools were larger, offered a more advanced form of education, and were typically attached to a larger church or a cathedral.


Milan Cathedral

As their name suggests, grammar schools were primarily concerned with educating boys in Latin grammar. Since Latin was the primary language of literature, arts, and theology in the medieval period, it was incumbent for anyone seeking education to first learn the language.

Medieval Church

This first requirement was fulfilled at a grammar school. However, a grammar school also taught other subjects such as logic and rhetoric with teachers having recourse to the rich Roman heritage of books on these subjects.

In some grammar schools, the educators could decide to impart education on other subjects such as arithmetic as well but this was rare as sciences were not considered important through most of the medieval period.

Illuminated Manuscripts Medieval Scribe Eadwine at work psalter christ church canterbury

By the late medieval era, this changed when grammar schools began to include subjects such as Greek, geography, and a wide range of natural sciences in their curriculum.

Monastic Schools

Monastic schools were typically associated with one of the monastic orders such as the Benedictine order. These schools were run by monks of the order who also taught the pupils at the school.

saint benedict g86b8c5dc2 640 1

The monastic schools in the medieval period became centers of learning where monks would diligently study Greek and Roman texts related to a variety of subjects.

The monks would then teach these subjects to the students at the monastic schools as well. It was here at the monastic schools that a large body of Greek and Roman literature was revived, especially on secular subjects such as philosophy, physics, astronomy, and botany.

Medieval Schools Summary

Discover the History of Medieval Schools. Images, Facts, and Information about Medieval Schools including Elementary Song-Schools, Grammar Schools, and Monastic Schools.

Medieval Schools were mainly controlled by the Church in Medieval Times and the main types of Medieval schools were elementary song schools, grammar schools, and monastic schools.

Elementary Song-School, Important Facts about Medieval School, Grammar Schools, Monastic Schools, Elementary Song-Schools

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