Historical Origins and Rationale
The practice dates back to the middle ages, when for various reasons a university might be persuaded, or otherwise see fit, to grant exemption from some or all of the usual statutory requirements for award of a degree. The earliest honorary degree on record was awarded to Lionel Woodville in the late 1470s by the University of Oxford. He later became Bishop of Salisbury.
In the latter part of the 16th century, the granting of honorary degrees became quite common, especially on the occasion of royal visits to Oxford or Cambridge. On the visit of James I to Oxford in 1605, for example, forty-three members of his retinue (fifteen of whom were earls or barons) received the degree of Master of Arts, and the Register of Convocation explicitly states that these were full degrees, carrying the usual privileges (such as voting rights in Convocation and Congregation).
Read more about this topic: Honorary Degrees
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Famous quotes containing the words historical and/or origins:
“What are your historical Facts; still more your biographical? Wilt thou know a Man ... by stringing-together beadrolls of what thou namest Facts?”
—Thomas Carlyle (17951881)
Sings his great theory of natural origins and of wise conduct; Plato
smiling carves dreams, bright cells
Of incorruptible wax to hive the Greek honey.”
—Robinson Jeffers (18871962)