Towards the end of his long career Abbot John Whethamstede, for many years the most celebrated Benedictine monk in England, took the opportunity of a letter he was writing to the prior of Tynemouth to engage in rhetorical but equally eulogistic praise of the ‘extraordinary melodies in praise of the Muses’ to be found not only at ‘the Cabalinian font which gushes forth in the midst of Oxford’ but also from ‘the Cirrean stream which runs near the suburbs of Cambridge’. Few historians of England’s two medieval universities have found it altogether easy to share the undiscriminating enthusiasm of the venerable abbot of St Albans for both Oxford and Cambridge. Gordon Leff — not of course at all alone in this — has done much to elucidate the intellectual and institutional life of the university of Oxford only to find the medieval history of his own university of Cambridge so much less rewarding that it rarely figures in his published work at all. Quite why, for at least the first two centuries of their existence, the Cambridge schools should have always remained less numerically significant and academically influential than their Oxford counterparts is still perhaps a more difficult question to answer than is usually assumed. Even more difficult to explain are the changing patterns of recruitment, patronage, endowment and intellectual activity which during the course of the mid and later fifteenth century at long last eradicated Cambridge’s inferior academic status and established an approximate degree of parity and prestige between the two universities. Without much doubt it was only then, during the century or so before the Reformation, that the historian encounters what Mr Malcolm Underwood has recently diagnosed as perhaps the most remarkable and influential of all ‘Cambridge phenomena’. Indeed if one had to choose a particular point in time when that ‘phenomenon’ must at last have become obvious to all contemporaries, even at Oxford, one might do worse than choose the years between 1505 and 1508, when Lady Margaret Beaufort’s transformation of God’s House into Christ’s College ‘took place against the background of an unprecedented number of royal visits’.* It was on one of those occasions, almost certainly on 22 April 1506, that Henry VII rode towards Cambridge, where ‘within a quarter of a mylle, there stode, first of all the four Ordres of Freres, and after odir Religious, and the King on Horsbacke kyssed the Crosse of everyche of the Religious, and then there stode all along, all the Graduatts, aftir their Degrees, in all their Habbitts, and at the end of them was the Unyversyte Cross’.