Mauritian tradition

In the Middle Ages, universities and the Cologne Monastery, established in 1221, were the centres of the Dominicans and of Western European science. It was in the universities where most recognised scholars of that era held their lectures and gradually, educational traditions of the Paris, Oxford and Cologne scholastics reached Estonia with the Dominican friars in the beginning of the 13th century.

Lecturer Mauritius — the first scholar of Estonia

Friar Mauritius from Tallinn, who, according to some historians was of Estonian origin, was sent to study at the Cologne University in 1268. For many years, Mauritius studied under the instructions of St. Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas - the most outstanding medieval scholars. Mauritius completed his doctorate in Paris in 1270.

In 1271, Mauritius returned from Paris to Tallinn, where he became a lecturer at the local monastery school and the prior of the monastery. Lecturer Mauritius was the first in Estonia to systematically study and teach scholastic thought. He can be regarded as the first scholar of Estonia in the strict sense of the word.

According to the historical records (1), Mauritius was a bright personality and an outstanding lecturer. As a prior, he played an important role in establishing remarkably stricter educational standards for educating local Dominicans. Under his instruction, an internationally recognisable level was achieved by both the school and the library of the monastery (2). (A number of original documents from the Mauritian Library are stored in the Tallinn City Archive and the National Library incunabula department.) It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of Mauritius and the Tallinn Dominican School for the subsequent development of educational life in Tallinn as well as the whole Estonia. The educational standards cultivated in Estonia by the Dominicans and their ties with scholars in Paris and Cologne also facilitated the establishment of Academia Gustaviana several centuries later.

Mauritius as an universalist

Mauritius was not merely an outstanding pedagogue but also a many-sided scholar and a universalist like St. Albertus Magnus, who was the teacher and ideal of many scholastics. The personality of Lecturer Mauritius united an erudite scholastic, a brilliant lecturer and a great expert on Gothic constructions. His drawings and instructions were a basis for constructing the buildings of the Dominican Monastery and St. Catherine's Church in Tallinn. Mauritius' interest in direct religious experience has been indirectly substantiated by the fact that during the period of his studies in Paris, he developed a correspondence with the stigmatised Christine von Stumbeln. Until the end of the previous century, the written heritage of Mauritius was preserved in the library of the Tallinn Gymnasium. Historical records refer mostly to Mauritius' tractates and particularly his semiotical study of chess symbols, known as the Mauritius' Tractate on Chess. The whereabouts of that as well as the other Mauritian tractates are still unknown today. The Mauritian Institute and the Mauritian Club offer an award for rediscovery of the literary heritage of Mauritius.

 (1) Arbusow, L, Livlands Geistlichkeit vom Ende des 12. bis ins 16. Jahrhundert. Dritter Nachtrag Mitau, 1913, S 131-136; Köxhnert, E. Das Dominikaner-Kloster zu Reval, Beitrage zur Kunde Estlands. 1926, Band XII, heft 1-3

 (2) Vt. Walther-Wittenheim v. G, Die Dominikaner in Livland im Mittelarter, Roma 1938, S 30 ; Lipp, M, Kodumaa kiriku ja hariduse lugu, Tartu 1897. p. 79.





Institutum Mauritanum

Müürivahe 33
10140 Tallinn, Estonia

Phone: +372 5112536

Reg No. 80075928
Bank account in SEB: 10022036591001