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We have already noted the Church's claim to teach "in all its fulness every doctrine that men ought to be brought to know, and that regarding things visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth." During the Dark Ages it was too busy with other problems to be able to concern itself much with education. While there were sporadic attempts earlier, it was only during the eleventh and twelfth centuries that the Church turned more seriously to the problem of educating its members. This work was carried on primarily in the monastery and cathedral schools. But, because the monasteries of this time were mainly concerned with their own internal problems of reform, and because they were ill-equipped to take care of students who might not be monastically minded, the work of education fell mainly on such cathedral schools as those at Canterbury, Paris, Chartres, and Toledo. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

Some material in the original text is restricted by copyright. Here are links to earlier editions or translations of the same material:

Of God and His Creatures: An Annotated Translation of the Summa Contra Gentiles of Saint Thomas Aquinas. trans. Joseph Rickaby (London: Burns & Oates, 1905), 2-4.


This is a part of Section III: The Medieval Church. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.