No one knows quite when or how the University of Cambridge began. There is a tradition that around the year 1200, the townsfolk of Oxford tired of having their daughters molested by students at England’s only university, and the ensuing riots persuaded some (Cambridge would say the more earnest, Oxford alleges the more guilty) to migrate to this market town in the Fens. We know what drove them from Oxford, but what drew them here? The story tells us two things about Cambridge. First, its roots are deep in the Middle Ages. Secondly, here men have long pondered deep and insoluble questions. Middle Ages? The Canadian visitor may well wonder if there is anything medieval about the town centre’s alternate race track and traffic jam, where pedestrians may have to jump out of the path of students bicycling furiously to a lecture.
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