Paradigm, No. 1. (November, 1989)
Department of Printed Books,
Oxford OX1 3BG
In the century after the Lutheran reformation (1537) the Latin grammar of Melanchthon was imposed as required reading in the grammar schools of the Dano-Norwegian twin monarchy. For both practical and ideological reasons the authorities desired complete uniformity in teaching of all subjects, including grammar. The production of the books was not, however, controlled by the Danish authorities, and there was a conflict between the required uniformity and the increasing variety which developed in the various editions of Melanchthon's grammar, as it became differentiated to cater for different specific purposes. Certain passages in the books were originally intended as guidelines for teachers to explain more fully in the class; often however this seems not to have been done, either because it went against the desire for uniformity or because some of the teachers were not qualified to explain the text in their own language and in their own words. The desire to impose the one and only acceptable grammatical text from which no deviation was allowed ended in conflict with both the nature of the book market and the requirements of the classroom.