Beaten in School, but Only Once

Guibert of Nogent, Gesta Dei per Francos:

“I was beaten once in school; but that school was nothing else but the dining room of our home. On my account, the teacher abandoned all concern for the others whom he had accepted as students. For my mother had prudently extracted this concession from him by increasing her complains and denouncing his honor. When therefore I was free from that study, whatever it was, for a few evening hours, I came to my mother’s knees after being flogged gravely and beyond what was deserved. When she asked – as was her habit – whether I was beaten that day, I denied that it had happened at all, lest I seem to be bringing a charge against my teacher. She, whether I wanted it or not, tore off my undershirt, which they call a subucula or rather a camisia, she noted the bruised little ribs of my back from the striking of the rod and the skin swelling everywhere. When she grieved for the violence brought against my softness with excessive severity, she, stormy and seething, with eyes suffused with sadness, said ‘You will never afterward be a cleric, nor will you again pay such penalties for the sake of learning your letters.’ I looked back at her with whatever animadversion I could muster and said, ‘Even if it kills me, I will not cease to learn my letters and become a cleric.’ For she had promised that if I wished to become a knight, she would provide me with my military equipment and weapons when I had reached the appropriate age.”

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Semel in schola vapulaveram; schola autem non alia erat quam quoddam domus nostrae triclinium. Aliorum enim, quos aliquando docens acceperat, mei solius causa curas obmiserat. Sic enim aucto questu, et delatione honoris prudens ab eo mater exegerat. Soluto igitur vespertinis quibusdam horis qualicunque illo studio, ad materna genua graviter etiam praeter meritum caesus accesseram. Quae cum an eo vapulassem die, ut erat solita, rogitare coepisset, et ego, ne magistrum detulisse viderer, factum omnino negarem, ipsa, vellem nollem, rejecta interula, quam subuculam, imo camisiam vocant, liventes attendit ulnulas dorsiculi ex viminum illisione cutem ubique prominulam. Cumque meae teneritudini ad nimium saeve illatam visceraliter doluisset, turbulenta et aestuans, et oculos moerore suffusa: « Nunquam, ait, deinceps clericus fies, nec ut litteras discas ulterius poenas lues. » Ad haec ego eam cum qua poteram animadversione respiciens: « Si, inquam, proinde mori contingeret, non desistam quin litteras discam, et clericus fiam. » Promiserat enim si eques vellem fieri, cum ad id temporis emersissem, apparatum se mihi militiae et arma daturam.

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