BACHELOR (Latin baccalaureus, baccalarius, baccalaurius, baccalaureatus—crowned with laurels; from Latin bacca—fruit, berry; laurea—laurel branch)—a person who has obtained the lowest scientific degree (baccalaureate) given by medieval universities; ordinarily a teacher in an elementary school.
A baccalaureus was originally a squire (from the nobility) whose was going to be dubbed a knight. Later this term was used to refer to a person who possessed the lowest university degree (a so-called baccalaureate, Latin baccalaureatus). Later (in the thirteenth century) these degrees were recognized in the theology department of Paris University by a decree of Pope Gregory IX (contained in Liber extra, 1234). There were three degrees of bachelors. The first was baccalaureatus biblicus which was given after two years of studying the Sacred Scriptures on the basis of an examination (in the form of a discussion) given in the presence of the dean and 2 to 4 magisters. The bachelor biblicus (called a cursor) was obligated to take part in didactic exercises and to learn from the Sentences of Peter Lombard (4 books) over the next two years under the direction of docents or sententiarii. This stage of studies also concluded with an examination on the basis of which the bachelor cursor would be given the second degree—baccalaureatus sententiarius; the bachelor sententiarius (or docent) was obligated to lecture on the Sentences to students of the second course. The third degree was baccalaureatus formatus. The bachelor candidate entered this category without any examination at the beginning of his seventh year of studies when he began to lecture on the third book of the Sentences. He had to gain the approval of the professor whole lectures he attended.
From the fourteenth century all universities granted bachelor degrees in faculties of arts (baccalaureus artium), law and medicine. The principles for earning this degree were similar; e.g., a candidate for bachelor in the faculty of arts was obliged to attend lectures in grammar, poetics, philosophy, and astronomy. He also had to possess the testimony of at least one professor. The examination was in the form of a discussion in which 2 to 4 magisters played the role of opponents. The persons who obtained bachelor degrees in a faculty could pursue a higher academic degree in the same faculty. Bachelors could also teach the beginnings of the liberal sciences: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, and choral song. The Academy of Kraków, for example, had filie (so-called academic colonies) in Poland to which it sent its own bachelors as teachers.
Baccalaureates were granted by Italian and Spanish universities up to the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. In Anglosaxon countries at present graduates of professional studies (3 years) receive these degrees (bachelor). In France graduates of middle schools obtain this degree after passing a state examination.
J. Łukasiewicz, Historia szkół w Koronie i w Wielkim Księstwie Litewskim [History of schools in Korona and in the Greater Lithuanian Principality], III, Pz 1851; Dzieje teologii katolickiej w Polsce [History of Catholic theology in Poland], Lb 1974, I 99–106; Bakalaureat [Baccalaureate], in: Nowa encyklopedia powszechna [new universal encyclopedia], Wwa 1995, I 328.
Anna Z. Zmorzanka