What is the pecia system?

The same instructor wants you to also explain the pecia system –within the context of medieval universities:

The word “pecia”, meaning “piece”, refers to a system for the production of books that was introduced with the founding, development and rising popularity of universities during the period of the High Middle Ages. The universities would approve an exemplar, or a main copying text, for each of the books they needed their students to have, and the students would order their copies from the scribes who were hired by the university to make copies from it. The main text is referred to now as a “pecia”, and each text that was produced from it is called an “apopecia”; the reason for using a word that means “piece” to describe these manuscripts is that each of those exemplar texts was divided up into several sections or pieces, each of which was copied by a different scribe. So you see, Henry Ford was not the first to think of the assembly-line method of production! This method worked, as you might imagine, much more quickly than having one scribe copy out an entire manuscript; this system developed because of the high demand generated for texts by the universities.

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