there was the phrase studium generale. But this designation did not so much signify the extension of the studies pursued, as the central and not merely local character of the establishment. So likewise we learn that the early idea attached to the name Universitas was not that of a high teaching institute. It meant an union of persons for given purposes, and one regularly organised; that is to say, a guild, or corporation.
So that, in its application to such an union, when formed for the purpose of learning, its proper sense was the combination into one regulated body of the teachers and the scholars. Yet it always seems as if the word University, soaring above the plane of antiquarian learning, at the least prefigured for itself a very high prerogative, and was fitted, and as it were predestined, to convey the idea of its ultimate function, as the treasure-house of all knowledge, and the palæstra of universal instruction. This, be the name what it may, was what the institution, from the days even of the trivium and quadrivium, strove to be, and in a great measure was.
As such it may be regarded variously from varying points of view. Standing, in its origin, at the right hand of the Christian Church, or on a parallel line with it, the University seems to integrate the provision made for the recovery and the training of our higher nature. As regarded, however, from another point of view, it is not only the complement, but also, in a more limited sense, the rival, of the Church; the first great systematic effort
- Denifle, p. 12.