The concept and allocation of disciplines to the artes liberales (“liberal arts”) date back to Antiquity, when these “sciences” (Latin artes or litterae) were generally regarded as essential to education and cultivation. Since they were the exclusive preserve of free men (as distinct from slaves) (Latin liberalis: “worthy of a free man”), they were called artes liberales to distinguish them from the artes mechanicae (“mechanical arts”) that dealt wi…
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“Artes liberales”, in:
Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy.
Consulted online on 28 June 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_017087>