The Seven liberal arts
The Seven liberal arts were the normal curricula from classical antiquity until the end of the Late Middle Ages, and somewhat later in some parts of Europe. The term modern term liberal arts refers to a particular type of educational curriculum broadly defined as a classical education. The term 'liberal arts' is described in the Encyclopædia Britannica as a "college or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum."
In classical antiquity, the term designated the education proper to a freeman (Latin: libera, "free") as opposed to a slave. ■Martianus Capella (5th century AD) defined the seven Liberal Arts as grammar, dialectic, rhetoric and geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music. ■Subsequently, later after the founding of the first western universities in the High Middle Ages the curricula of the medieval Western university the seven liberal arts were:
- the Trivium: grammar ■ rhetoric ■ logic
- the Quadrivium: geometry ■ arithmetic ■ music ■ astronomy
In that era, mastery of the seven was a necessary precursor to the study of Theology, at the time the purpose of founding most universities. In modern colleges and universities, the liberal arts include the study of theology, art, literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science.
- Expansion movement to include the visual arts
During the Renaissance a considerable propaganda campaign was mounted to support the promotion to the number of liberal arts of architecture, painting and sculpture, though not necessarily for their inclusion in the educational curriculum in the same way. Previously they had been classified among the mechanical or manual arts. Among those writing to support their inclusion were Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgio Vasari and many others. At least in Italy, and among Renaissance humanists, the battle was largely won by about 1500, though in "remoter nations" like Spain and England the process took up to another century.
Triumph of St Thomas and Allegory of the Sciences, Santa Maria Novella, Florence