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128 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY POLISH EDUCATION AND SCHOLARSHIP' RO BERT L. MARKON Polish history registers a constant struggle of adjustment between the talents of a nation and-often adverse-political circumstance. The wonder is the number of creative minds that Poland has produced and the place in world scholarship that she has been able to claim. Dr Kot is typical of his people; for, as Professor Powicke emphasized in introducing him to his Oxford audience, he has found time for academic occupations without neglecting his duties as a minister of state. As one would expect from such an author, and as the subject certainly demands, Dr Kot shows a lively sense of the role which political history has played in the development, and the fortunes, of Polish learning. The influence of the Roman Empire never reached the forestcovered land between the Vistula and the Oder. Only the introduction of Christianity by the first ruler of a united Poland in the tenth century opened the way to foreign monks who started to educate the Poles. Italian influence was predominant as the Poles preferred I talians to the Germans, whose mediation was not disinterested . The first Polish history was written by Vincent Kadlubek around 1200 and was used by Gervase of Tilbury for his alia Imperalia. Polish education grew in spite of the Tartar invasion in the thirteenth century, until in 1364 the University of Cracow was founded. . The immediate task of the University was to educate teachers for the newly-opened lands of Lithuania, which had just been joined to Poland; but this cradle of Polish learning soon gained world-wide fame. It produced men like Nicolaus Copernicus, and in 1500 it had more than seventeen hundred foreign students. At .first the books printed were in Latin, but the first Polish book appeared in 1513. Among the collections of manuscripts made, were those by Jan Laski of his teacher, Erasmus. But the University remained in the hands of the clergy, and some Poles preferred to study abroad, mainly in northern Italy. It must be admitted, moreover, that the Polish upper class as a whole remained indifferent to learning and its pursuit. They were content with a smattering of education to which many of them added the knowledge of a foreign language and law. And this was a source of deep anxiety to Polish scholars.· FjrJt Ctnltlries oj Polish Learning, by DR KOT. Oxford, Blackwell, 1942. REVIEWS i29 The Reformation and the decision of 1752 to elect the Polish kings were bound to produce controversy_ Protestant and Catholic schools were opened, among them the University of Wilno, but at'the same time economists and other reformers were striving for the equality of all classes before the law. The best known work in this field was Modrzewski's De Republica Emendanda . The great Polish statesman and strategist, Jan Zamoyski, was also one of the foremost scholars of Poland. His wars pushed the Polish boundary far to the east, carrying with them the thoughts of the Western world. Kiev was the greatest Polish cultural centre in these'lands and it radiated its influence even across the border to Moscow. The Golden Age of Poland came to an end around 1648, when a series of invasions by the Turks, Swedes and Russians reduced the country to a state of poverty, thus making learning impossible. AIl cultural institutions except that at Danzig stood idle. But the darkest hours preceded the dawn. French influence made itself felt around 1750. The change was largely due to the tireless efforts of two churchmen, Konarski and Zaluski, who opened the CoIlegium Nobilium in Warsaw and the Zaluski Library. The main purpose of all the reorganized schools, including the Cadet School favoured by the King, was to educate good citizens. ·When, in 1773, the Jesuit Order was abolished by the Vatican, its vast properties were taken over by the state and entrusted to the care of a National Board of Education. Hugo KoIlontaj was the spirit behind the Board. He was also one of the writers of the constitution of May 3, 1791. This was too liberal for the powerful neighbours of Poland, who decided to put an end...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 128-132
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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