Richard Mulcaster

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Richard Mulcaster, one of the greatest British educational visionaries, is known best for his headmasterships and paedegogic writings.

In 1561 he became the first headmaster of Merchant Taylors' School in London, where he wrote his two treatises on education, Positions (1581) and Elementarie (1582). Merchant Taylors' School was at that time the largest school in the country, and Mulcaster worked to establish a rigorous curriculum which was to set the standard for education in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. In 1596 became high master of St Paul's School.

Mulcaster was born into the gentry in Carlisle, and began his formal education at Eton College, from where he progressed to King's College, Cambridge. Throughout his time at Cambridge and later at Oxford, he met important scholars who were to influence his later thinking, including Sir John Cheke and John Caius. By the time he left Oxford, Mulcaster was known for his intellectual prowess in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, which he took to Merchant Taylors' School.

Richard Mulcasters writings remain important in the study of humanist education and the sixteenth century.

Richard Mulcaster has been described as “the greatest sixteenth Century advocate of football” [1]. His unique contribution is not only naming "footeball" by its correct English name but also providing the earliest evidence of organised team football. Mulcaster confirms that his was a game closer to modern football by differentiating it from games involving other parts of the body, namely "the hand ball" and "the armeball". He referred to the many benefits of "footeball" in his personal publication of 1581 in English entitled ‘Positions Wherein Those Primitive Circumstances Be Examined, Which Are Necessarie for the Training up of Children’.[2] He states that football had positive educational value and it promoted health and strength. Mulcaster's discussion on football was the first to refer to teams ("sides" and "parties"), positions ("standings"), the benefits of a referee ("judge over the parties") and a coach "(trayning maister)". Mulcaster describes a game for small teams that is organised under the auspices of a referee (and is therefore the first evidence that the game had evolved from disordered and violent "mob" football): "Some smaller number with such overlooking, sorted into sides and standings, not meeting with their bodies so boisterously to trie their strength: nor shouldring or shuffing one an other so barbarously ... may use footeball for as much good to the body, by the chiefe use of the legges". Richard Mulcaster' enthusiasm for "footeball" in an era when it was outlawed and his detailed description of it as an organised team sport has led him to be considered the father of early modern football.


Richard Mulcaster

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