List of medieval universities
The list of medieval universities comprises all universities (more precisely, Studium Generale) which existed in Europe during the Middle Ages. It also includes short-lived foundations and European educational institutions whose university status is a matter of debate. The degree-awarding university with its corporate organization and relative autonomy is a product of medieval Christian Europe. Before 1500 more than eighty universities were established in Western and Central Europe. During the subsequent Colonization of the Americas the university was introduced to the New World, marking the beginning of its worldwide spread as the center of higher learning everywhere (see List of oldest universities).
There were many institutions of learning (Studium) in the Middle Ages in Latin Europe - cathedral schools, "schools of rhetoric" (law faculties), etc. Historians generally restrict the term "medieval university" to refer to an institution of learning that was referred to as Studium Generale in the Middle Ages.
There is no official strict definition of a Studium generale, the term having emerged from customary usage. The following properties were common among them, and are often treated as defining criteria:
- (1) that it received students from everywhere (not merely the local district or region);
- (2) That it engaged in higher learning, i.e. that it went beyond teaching the Arts, and had at least one of the higher faculties (Theology, Law or Medicine).
- (3) that a significant part of the teaching was done by Masters (teachers with a higher degree)
- (4) that it enjoyed the privilege of jus ubique docendi, i.e. masters of that school were entitled to teach in any other school without a preliminary examination.
- (5) that its teachers and students were allowed to enjoy any clerical benefices they might have elsewhere without meeting the mandatory residency requirements prescribed by Canon Law.
- (6) that it enjoyed some degree of autonomy from local civil and diocesal authorities.
Charters issued by the Pope or Holy Roman Emperor were often needed to ensure privileges (4)-(6). The fourth condition (teaching elsewhere without examination) was originally considered by scholars of the time to be the most important criterion, with the result that the appellation Studium Generale was customarily reserved to refer only to the oldest and most prestigious schools —- specifically, Salerno, Bologna and Paris, and sometimes Oxford —- until this oligopoly was broken by papal and imperial charters in the course of the 13th century. The fifth criterion (continued benefices) was the closest there was to an "official" definition of a Studium Generale used by the Church and academics from the 14th century onwards, although there were some notable exceptions (e.g. neither Oxford nor Padua received this right, but they were nonetheless universally considered "Studium Generale by custom").
Modern historians have tended to focus on the first three requirements (students from everywhere, at least one higher faculty, teaching by masters). This has led to contention in making lists of Medieval universities. Some Italian universities, for instance, were quick to obtain papal charters and thus the privileges and title of a Studium Generale, but their student catchment never went much beyond the local district or they had only a couple of masters engaged in teaching. Other comparable schools (notably the more prestigious cathedral schools of France), may have had wider student catchment and more masters, but neglected or failed to secure the chartered privileges and thus were never referred to as Studium Generale. It is common to include the former and exclude the latter from lists of "Medieval universities", but some historians have disputed this convention as arbitrary and unreflective of the state of higher learning in Europe.
Some historians have discarded the Studium Generale definition, and come up with their own criteria for a definition of a "university" —- narrowing it by requiring, for instance, that a university have all three higher faculties (Theology, Law, Medicine) in order to be considered a "Medieval university" (very few had all three), whereas others widen it to include some of the more prestigious cathedral schools, palace schools and universities outside of Latin Europe (notably in the Greek and Islamic world).
There is also contention on the founding dates of many universities. Using the date of acquisition of a papal and royal/imperial charter is inadequate, as the older universities, believing their status and reputations sufficient and indisputable, refused or resisted asking for an official charter for a long time. Some historians trace the founding of a university to the first date when evidence of some kind of teaching was done in that locality, even if only local and limited. Others wait until there is evidence of higher learning, a wide student catchment, the emergence of its masters teaching elsewhere or a more definitive mention of it as a Studium generale.
The list is sorted by the date of recognition. At places where more than one university was established, the name of the institution is given in brackets.
|Ranking||Year||Name||Contemporaneous location||Current location||Notes|
|1||1088||University of Bologna||Commune of Bologna||Bologna, Italy||The first university in the sense of a higher-learning, degree-awarding institute, the word university having been coined at its foundation.|
|2||1167 (1254)||University of Oxford||Kingdom of England||Oxford, United Kingdom||"Claimed to be the oldest university in the English speaking world, there is no clear date of foundation of Oxford University, but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167." Teaching suspended in 1209 (due to town execution of two scholars) and 1355 (due to the St. Scholastica riot), but was continuous during the English Civil War (1642–1651) - the University was Royalist. All Souls College and University College have repeatedly claimed that they own documents proving that teaching in Oxford started in the year 825, but these documents have never seen the public light (allegedly, John Speed dated his famous 1605 Oxford maps based on these documents). However, it was not until 1254 that Pope Innocent IV granted to Oxford the University charter by papal bull ("Querentes in agro").|
|3||1209 (1231)||University of Cambridge||Kingdom of England||Cambridge, United Kingdom||Founded by scholars leaving Oxford after a dispute caused by the execution of two scholars in 1209, and royal charter was granted in 1231. The university takes 1209 as its official anniversary.|
|4||1218 (probably older)||University of Salamanca||Kingdom of León||Salamanca, Spain||It is the oldest university in operation in Spain. Although there are records of the University granting degrees many years before (James Trager's People's Chronology sets its foundation date in 1134), it only received the Royal chart of foundation as "Estudio General" in 1218, making it possibly the fourth or even the third oldest European university in continuous operations. However, it was the first European university to receive the title of "University" as such, granted by king of Castile and León Alfonso Xand the Pope in 1254. Having been excluded from the University in 1852 by the Spanish government, the Faculties of Theology and Canon Law became the Pontifical University of Salamanca in 1940.|
|5||1222 (probably older)||University of Padua||Commune of Padua||Padua, Italy||Founded by scholars and professors after leaving Bologna.|
|6||1224||University of Naples Federico II||Kingdom of Sicily||Naples, Italy||The first public university, founded by Frederick II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.|
|7||1229||University of Toulouse||Kingdom of France||Toulouse, France|
|8||1240||University of Siena||Republic of Siena||Siena, Italy||Originally called Studium Senese, was founded by Commune of Siena in 1240. In 1321, the studium was able to attract a larger number or pupils due to a mass exodus from the prestigious neighbouring University of Bologna. Closed temporarily in 1808–1815 when Napoleonic forces occupied Tuscany. On November 7, 1990 the university celebrated its 750th anniversary.|
|9||1241||University of Valladolid||Crown of Castile||Valladolid, Spain||One hypothesis is that its foundation is the result of the transfer of Palencia General Survey between 1208 and 1241 by Alfonso VIII, king of Castile, and Bishop Tello Téllez de Meneses.|
|10||1261||University of Northampton||Kingdom of England||Northampton||The University of Northampton was founded in 1261 by King Henry III.|
|11||1272||University of Murcia||Crown of Castile||Murcia, Spain||The University of Murcia was founded in 1272 by the King Alfonso X of Castile.|
|12||1289||University of Montpellier||Kingdom of France||Montpellier, France||The university is considerably older than its formal founding date, associated with a bull issued by Pope Nicholas IV in 1289, combining all the long-existing schools into a university.|
|13||1290||University of Macerata||Papal States||Macerata, Italy||The University of Macerata (Italian: Università degli Studi di Macerata) is a university located in Macerata, Marche, Italy. It was founded in 1290 and is organized into 7 faculties.|
|14||1290||University of Coimbra||Kingdom of Portugal||Coimbra, Portugal||Begun its existence in Lisbon with the name Studium Generale (Estudo Geral). Scientiae thesaurus mirabilis, the royal charter announcing the institution of the University, was dated 1 March of that year, although efforts had been made at least since 1288 to create this first university in Portugal. The papal confirmation was also given in 1290 (on 9 August of that year), during the papacy of Pope Nicholas IV.|
|15||1293||University of Alcalá||Crown of Castile||Alcalá de Henares, Spain||The University of Alcalá was founded by King Sancho IV of Castile as Studium Generale in 1293 in Alcalá de Henares. It was granted Papal Bull in 1499, and quickly gained international fame thanks to the patronage of Cardinal Cisneros and the production of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible in 1517, which is the basis for most of the current translations. The University moved to Madrid in 1836 by Royal Decree. The Moyano Law of 1857 established Complutense as the sole university in Spain authorized to confer the title of Doctor on any scholar. This law remained in effect until 1969.|
|16||1303||La Sapienza University of Rome||Papal States||Rome, Italy||Founded by Pope Boniface VIII, but became a state university in 1935. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, the university "remained closed during the entire pontificate of Clement VII".|
|17||1308||University of Perugia||Papal States||Perugia, Italy||Attested by the Bull of Pope Clement V. On May 19, 1355, the Emperor Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor issued a Bull confirming the papal erection and raising it to the rank of an imperial university.|
|18||1321||University of Florence||Republic of Florence||Florence, Italy||The University of Florence evolved from the Studium Generale, which was established by the Florentine Republic in 1321. The Studium was recognized by Pope Clement VI in 1349.|
|19||1336||University of Camerino||Papal States||Camerino, Italy||The great literate and jurist Cino from Pistoia, living in Marche in the years 1319-21, and in Camerino in the spring of 1321, remembers the territory blooming with juridical schools. Camerino has been a center of learning since no later than 1200, offering degrees in civil law, canonical law, medicine, and literary studies. Gregory XI took the decision upon the request of Gentile III da Varano with the papal edict of 29 January 1377, directed to the commune and to the people, authorizing Camerino to confer (after appropriate examination) bachelor and doctoral degrees with apostolic authority.|
|20||1343||University of Pisa||Republic of Pisa||Pisa, Italy||It was formally founded on September 3, 1343 by an edict of Pope Clement VI, although there had been lectures on law in Pisa since the 11th century. Nowadays is one of the most important universities in Italy.|
|21||1348||Charles University of Prague||Kingdom of Bohemia||Prague, Czech Republic||Three of four faculties closed in 1419, joined with Jesuit university and renamed Charles-Ferdinand University in 1652, split into German and Czech part in 1882, Czech branch closed during Nazi occupation (1939–1945), German branch closed in 1945.|
|22||1361||University of Pavia||House of Visconti||Pavia, Italy||Closed for short periods during the Italian Wars, Napoleonic wars, and Revolutions of 1848.|
|23||1364||Jagiellonian University||Kingdom of Poland||Kraków, Poland||Founded by Casimir the Great under the name Studium Generale, and was commonly referred to as the Krakow Academy. The institution's development stalled upon the king's death in 1370; primarily due to a lack of funding. Without a permanent location; lectures were held across the city at various churches and in the Krakow Cathedral School. Further development again resumed in the 1390s, by the initiative of King Władysław Jagiełło and his wife Jadwiga of Poland; at which point the school became a fully functioning university with a permanent location. The university was forcibly shut down during the German Occupation of Poland (1939–1945). The staff was deported to Nazi concentration camps, and many of its collections were deliberately destroyed by the occupying German authorities. Within a month after the citie's liberation, the university again re-opened; with some of the original pre-war staff who survived the occupation.|
|24||1365||University of Vienna||Holy Roman Empire||Vienna, Austria||Modelled on the University of Paris.|
|25||1367||University of Pécs||Kingdom of Hungary||Pécs, Hungary|
|26||1386||Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg||Holy Roman Empire||Heidelberg, Germany||Founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine. The oldest in Germany.|
|27||1391||University of Ferrara||House of Este||Ferrara, Italy||Founded by Marquis Alberto d'Este.|
|28||1404||University of Turin||Duchy of Savoy||Turin, Italy||Founded by the prince "Louis of Piedmont" during the reign of Amadeus VIII.|
|29||1409||University of Leipzig||Holy Roman Empire||Leipzig, Germany||Founded when German-speaking staff left Prague due to the Jan Hus crisis.|
|30||1413||University of St Andrews||Kingdom of Scotland||St Andrews, UK||Founded by a Papal Bull|
|31||1419||University of Rostock||Holy Roman Empire||Rostock, Germany||During the Reformation, "the Catholic university of Rostock closed altogether and the closure was long enough to make the refounded body feel a new institution".|
|32||1434||University of Catania||Kingdom of Sicily||Catania, Italy||The oldest in Sicily. Founded by Alfonso V of Aragon.|
|33||1441||University of Bordeaux||Kingdom of England||Bordeaux, France||Founded by a Papal Bull.|
|34||1450||University of Barcelona||Crown of Aragon||Barcelona, Spain||Founded by Alfonso V of Aragon as Estudi general de Barcelona after the unification of all university education. For forty-nine years prior to that foundation, however, the city had had a fledgling medical school founded by King Martin of Aragon, and in the 13th century, Barcelona already possessed several civil and ecclesiastical schools.|
|35||1451||University of Glasgow||Kingdom of Scotland||Glasgow, UK||Founded by a Papal Bull|
|36||1456||University of Greifswald||Holy Roman Empire||Greifswald, Germany||Teaching had started by 1436. Founded by initiative of Heinrich Rubenow, Lord Mayor of Greifswald (and first rector), with approval of Pope Callixtus III and Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, under the protection of Wartislaw IX, Duke of Pomerania. Teaching paused temporarily during the Protestant Reformation (1527–39).|
|53||1498||Frankfurt on the Oder||Germany|
|56||1400||University of Fermo||Papal States||Italy||Founded by Pope Boniface IX|
- Rüegg 1992, pp. XIX–XX
- Roberts, Rodriguez & Herbst 1996, pp. 256–284
- Rashdall, H. (1895) The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, Vol. 1, p.8-12
- Rashdall, H. (1895) The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, Vol. 2, p.4-5
- Powicke, F. M.: "Ways of Medieval Life and Thought", Biblo & Tannen Publishers, 1949, ISBN 978-0-8196-0137-7
- Roberts, John; Rodriguez Cruz, Agueda M.; Herbst, Jürgen: "Exporting Models", in: Ridder-Symoens, Hilde de (ed.): A History of the University in Europe. Vol. II: Universities in Early Modern Europe (1500–1800), Cambridge University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-521-36106-0, pp. 256–284
- Rüegg, Walter: "Foreword. The University as a European Institution", in: Ridder-Symoens, Hilde de (ed.): A History of the University in Europe. Vol. I: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. XIX–XX
- Verger, Jacques: "Patterns", in: Ridder-Symoens, Hilde de (ed.): A History of the University in Europe. Vol. I: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2, pp. 35–76 (62–65)
- Jílek, Jubor (ed.): "Historical Compendium of European Universities/Répertoire Historique des Universités Européennes", Standing Conference of Rectors, Presidents and Vice-Chancellors of the European Universities (CRE), Geneva 1984
- Rüegg, Walter (ed.): A History of the University in Europe. Vol. III: Universities in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (1800–1945), Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-521-36107-1
- Rüegg, Walter (ed.): A History of the University in Europe. Vol. IV: Universities Since 1945, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-521-36108-8
- List of universities and colleges in Europe
- History of European research universities
- List of oldest universities in continuous operation