The First School

Plaque for the first school in the cathedral. Photo by Milisenta Misevičiūtė

What are your memories from your school days? If you lived in the 15th century, your experience would be absolutely different from the present-day. First mentioned in written sources in 1397, the oldest school in Lithuania operated in the territory of the Lower Castle and was established by Vilnius’ first bishop, Andrius. Children of both wealthy and poor families were admitted to the school and there were three grades. Apart from singing religious songs, schoolchildren had to serve during public worships and ring the Cathedral bell during big celebrations. Of course, they were taught grammar, the fundamentals of rhetoric and dialectics, arithmetic and Latin, which opened the door to opportunities for further studies, cultural relations and exchanges between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Western Europe.

If you ever went to music school or simply like music, you should know that the Vilnius Cathedral school might be considered the originator of music schools and choral singing in Lithuania. The school was funded from different sources, including the taxes collected from city inns. Interestingly, Sigismund the Old solved the problem of school heating in the 16th century with a very original idea – he passed an order stating that everyone who brings firewood through Vilnius must give one log to the school. For a long time, the school was the only educational institution in the country, and the 15th century is considered the age of the establishment of the academic network in Lithuania.

Katedros a.
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