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Cambridge University Library


Lat. baccalaureus or baccalaurea; the derivation of the term has been, and is, much disputed; its use to describe young knights suggested a derivation from bas chevalier but a more agricultural origin, possibly with reference to cows (vaccae) and/or to rustic workers (of both sexes) who were not their own masters, has also its supporters. Originally the baccalaureat, or bachelorship, was not a degree so much as a state: that of being no longer a pupil but not yet a master. Whatever the original meaning of the term it certainly had no reference to gender or to marital status.