When considering the experiences of medieval English, Welsh or Irish scholars in continental Europe historians have tended to focus on the older, more prestigious universities such as Paris or the numerous Italian centres of learning. There have been very few attempts to look systematically at the younger universities that were established in parts of northern Europe in the later Middle Ages, based on the assumption that very few students from England, Wales or Ireland studied at these institutions. By researching the matriculation registers of the universities of Cologne and Leuven, and using these universities as case studies, this article shows that a significant and increasing number of students were making their way to the new universities of the continent during the fifteenth century. These included a number of important figures in the political and ecclesiastical life of later medieval England. The article argues that these universities in fact played an important part in the academic life of England, and to a lesser degree Wales and Ireland. They enhanced the prospects of ambitious clerics, educated prominent figures in royal government, provided stepping stones to Italy, encouraged the pre‐existing political and economic links between England and the Low Countries and contributed towards the growth of humanism in England. By studying Cologne and Leuven we are given an insight into the process of migrating between universities, the effect of political and economic connections on university attendance and the role of universities in fostering more harmonious international relations.
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