Thursday 19 November 2015
The establishment and swift abolition of a university in Northampton in the 13th century was the theme explored at the annual lecture hosted by the High Sheriff of Northampton on October 17.
At the invitation of High Sheriff Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Mukhtar, guests were given insight into the dramatic events that led to the county hosting only the third university in England – only to have it closed four years later in 1265 by King Henry III under accusations of damaging Oxford University by its existence.
University of Northampton historian Dr Cathy Smithexplained during her lecture ‘The Renaissance of the University of Northampton’ that the University was originally established by scholars fleeing Cambridge after violent ‘town and gown’ confrontations. Approval was given for a University as Northampton was seen as a major town at the heart of England. While the other universities lobbied behind the scenes for the new University to be closed – the town’s backing of Simon de Montfort ahead of the siege of Northampton sealed its fate.
Dr Smith’s lecture was followed by a talk by Mr Mike Ratcliffe – an expert on English Higher Education through the ages – who discussed the University of Northampton’s place in the history and philosophy of universities and drawing similarities with the students and scholars of the 21st century.