Old University of Leuven
|University of Leuven|
Université de Louvain
Coat-of-arms of the old University of Louvain
|Latin: Studium Generale Lovaniense|
|Location||Leuven, Duchy of Brabant|
The Old University of Leuven (or of Louvain) is the name historians give to the university, or studium generale, founded in Leuven, Brabant (now part of Belgium), in 1425, and closed in 1797, a week after the cession to the French Republic of the Austrian Netherlands and the principality of Liège (the future Belgium) by the Treaty of Campo Formio.
When the context makes the use of "old" unnecessary, it is referred to simply as the University of Leuven or University of Louvain. The "new" university would generally be the Catholic University of Leuven (established 1835), but might also refer to a short-lived, but of great historical importance, State University of Leuven, 1817–1835. The immediate official and legal successor and inheritor of the old University, under the laws in force in 1797, was the École centrale de Bruxelles, which itself closed down in 1802.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the old University of Leuven was until its closure a great centre of Jansenism in Europe, with professors such as Cornelius Jansenius, Peter Stockmans, Johannes van Neercassel, Josse Le Plat and especially Zeger Bernhard van Espen and his famous disciple Febronius. To shake off this reputation, the faculty of theology thrice declared its adherence to the papal condemnation of Jansenist beliefs in the papal bull Unigenitus (1713).
In the 15th century the civil administration of the town of Leuven, with the support of John IV, Duke of Brabant, a prince of the House of Valois, made a formal request to the Holy See for a university.
From the founding of the university to its abolition in 1797, Latin was the sole language of instruction.
In its early years, this university was modelled on those of Paris, Cologne and Vienna. The university flourished in the 16th century due to the presence of famous scholars and professors, such as Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens (Pope Adrian VI), Desiderius Erasmus, Johannes Molanus, Joan Lluís Vives, Andreas Vesalius and Gerardus Mercator.
In 1519, the Faculty of Theology of Leuven, jointly with that of the University of Cologne, became the first institution to condemn a number of statements drawn from Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses (preceding the papal bull Exsurge Domine by several months).
After the French Revolutionary Wars, by the Treaty of Campo Formio, the Austrian Netherlands was ceded to the French Republic by Austria in exchange for the Republic of Venice. Once formally integrated into the French Republic, a law dating to 1793 mandating that all universities in France be closed came into effect. The University of Leuven was abolished by decree of the Département of the Dyle on October 25, 1797.
What remained of the university's movables and books were requisitioned for the École centrale in Brussels. This was the immediate official and legal successor and inheritor of the old University, under the laws in force at the time. It was in turn closed down in 1802.
Subsequent institutions 
The first attempt to found a successor university in the nineteenth-century was the State University of Leuven, 1817–1835, where a dozen professors of the old University taught. This was followed by a private Catholic university, the Catholic University of Leuven, established in Leuven in 1835 (initially the Catholic University of Mechlin, 1834–1835). This institution was founded with the intention of restoring the confessionally Catholic pre-Revolutionary traditions of learning in Leuven. In 1968 this split to form the two current institutions: the Dutch language Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the French language Université catholique de Louvain.
The library 
From the founding of the University in 1425 up until 1636, there was no official library of the university. Very likely the students had access to manuscripts and printed books preserved in the homes of their professors or colleges.
In 1797 much of what remained of this library after the depredations of the French occupying forces was sent to the Central School of Brussels, established as the official replacement of the abolished university, although its most precious books and manuscripts were deposited in Paris among the treasures of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The library of the Central School of Brussels came to number about 80,000 volumes, which later became part of the Library of Brussels, and then the Royal Library of Belgium.
Also the rich archives of the old University of Leuven are always existing and stored in the General Archive of the Realm in Brussels.
Indeed, the library burned in 1914 by the Germans was not the original library of the old University of Louvain, but the new library of the new Catholic University of Leuven.
Notable alumni of the pre-1797 University of Leuven 
- Jan Standonck (1454–1504), Master of the Collège de Montaigu in Paris
- Adriaan Floriszoon Boeyens (1459–1523), Pope Adrian VI
- Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536), humanist
- Johannes Sturm (1507–1589), German educator
- Gerard Mercator (1512–1594), cartographer
- Michael Baius (1513–1589), theologian
- Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564), father of modern anatomy
- Rembert Dodoens (1517–1585), botanist
- Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle (1517–1586), cardinal, statesman
- Petrus Peckius the Elder (1529–1589), law professor
- Blessed Diarmaid Ó hUrthuile, or Dermot O'Hurley (c. 1530 - 1584), Archbishop of Cashel, Roman Catholic martyr
- Willem Hessels van Est (1542–1613), biblical scholar
- Justus Lipsius (1547–1606), philologist
- Leonardus Lessius (1554–1623), Jesuit moral theologian
- Petrus Peckius the Younger (1562–1625), diplomat and chancellor of Brabant
- Aubert Miraeus (1573–1640), ecclesiastical historian
- Jacobus Boonen (1573–1655), Archbishop of Mechelen
- Lawrence Beyerlinck (1578–1627), encyclopedist
- Nicolaus Vernulaeus (1583–1649), Latin playwright
- Abbé de Saint-Cyran (1583–1643), French ecclesiastic
- Cornelius Otto Jansen (1585–1638), father of Jansenism
- John of St. Thomas (1589-1644), theologian and philosopher
- Marcin Kalinowski (c. 1605–1652), Polish nobleman
- Łukasz Opaliński (1612–1666), political writer
- Cornelis de Bie (1627 - c.1715), Flemish rhetorician
- Francis Martin (1652–1722), Irish controversialist
- Febronius (1701–1790), historian and theologian
- Charles Nerinckx (1761–1824), founder of the Sisters of Loretto
See also 
- Universities in Leuven
- Collegium Trilingue
- State University of Leuven
- Catholic University of Mechlin
- Catholic University of Leuven
- Université catholique de Louvain
- Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
- Academic libraries in Leuven
- List of medieval universities
- Marc Nelissen, "Leuven, Rom en Brabant", in Nelissen, Roegiers et van Mingroot, De stichtingsbul van de Leuvense universiteit, 1425-1914, Louvain, 2000, p 70: "de universiteit voerde het stadswapen van leuven, een dwarsbalk van silver op een veld van keel, maar voegde in de rechter bovenhoek van het schild een nimbus toe van waaruit een hand een opengeslagen boek aanreitke."
- H. Francotte, La propagande des encyclopédistes français au pays de Liège, p. 28: "le jansénisme règnait en maître à l'université de Louvain".
- So as we can read in: Leuven University, Leuven University Press, p. 153: " In 1698 a clandestine group of anti-Jansenists was formed, mainly of Jesuits and regular clergy, and it denounced the University of Louvain to Rome as 'a hide-out of Jansenists' "
- Toon Quaghebeur, "The Religion of Unigenitus in the Faculty of Theology at Louvain, 1713-1719", The Catholic Historical Review 93:2 (2007), pp. 265-299.
- Jan Roegiers et al., "The Old University 1425-1797", in Leuven University, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 1990, p. 57: "The town had promised Pope Martin V that it would provide the University with premise". ...."The municipality also undertook to pay for the repair, maintenance and extension of the four paedagogies", p. 36 "The Bull of Foundation in 1425 had made finance and appointment of professors a matter for the Civil authorities: the town gave the University its site and paid its professors", and p. 43: "On 20 june 1425 the Louvain magistrates agreed to engage the doctors, masters and other persons needed for the studium".
- (Jan Roegiers et al.), "The Old University 1425-1797", in Leuven University, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 1990, p. 21: "These universities (the medieval universities) were created either by sovereign princes or by towns, and were confirmed by the Pope", and further: "The foundation of Louvain was the work of both ducal and municipal authorities. John IV, the Duke of Brabant, encouraged by two of his concillors, Engelbert van Nassau and Edmund van Dynter, strongly favoured the establishment of a higher centre of learning in his dukedom".
- Jozeph IJsewijn, Companion to Neo-Latin Studies, Amsterdam-New-York-Oxford, 1977, p. 102: "Latin survived as the language of the University of Louvain until the French Revolution but the abolition of this institution (1797) was a catastrophe for Latin in the Southern Netherlands".
- Richard Marius, Martin Luther: The Christian between God and Death (1999), p. 188.
- The law of 15 september 1793 had decreed the suppression of all the colleges and universities in France, but the universities remain de facto until the new law of 7 ventôse year III (25 February 1795) creating the Écoles centrales. In accordance with this law the University of Louvain was abolished by Decree of the Departement of the Dijle. Louis Trénard, De Douai à Lille, une université et son histoire, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 1978, p.37 note 6.
- Jan Roegiers et al., Leuven University, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 1990, p. 31: "With the Law of 3 Brumaire of Year IV, which reorganized higher education in the French Republic, the was no place for the University of Louvain, and it was abolished by Decree of the Departement of the Dijle on 25 octobre (1797)".
- Leuven University, p. 31: "The university colleges were closed on 9 November 1797, and all items of use, with all the books, were requistionned for the new École Centrale, in Brussel". And also: Analectes pour servir à l'histoire de l'Université de Louvain, edited by P. F. X. De Ram, Leuven, 1840, library Vanlinthout en Vandenzande, vol. 3, p. 58, footnote 1: "De La Serna Santander fut spécialement chargé de faire transférer à Bruxelles les principaux ouvrages de la bibliothèque académique qui déjà, en 1794 et 1795, avait été spoliée par les commissaires français."
- Arlette Graffart, "La matricule de l'Université de Louvain (1817-1835)", in Album Carlos Wyffels, Brussels, 1987, p. 177. Arlette Graffart says that : « l'Université d'État de Louvain mérite bien plus que l'Université catholique de Louvain d'être considérée comme la "résurrection" de l'Ancienne université de Louvain.
- R. Mathes, Löwen und Rom. Zur Gründung der Katholischen Universität Löwen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Kirchen-und Bildungspolitik Papst Gregors XVI, Essen, 1975.
- "University of Leuven". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Note that the Court of Cassation of Belgium ruled that the two entities were legally separate. 26 November 1846: "The Catholic University of Leuven can not be regarded as continuing the old University of Leuven", in, Table générale alphabétique et chronologique de la Pasicrisie Belge contenant la jurisprudence du Royaume de 1814 à 1850, Brussels, 1855, p. 585, column 1, alinea 2. See also: Bulletin Usuel des Lois et Arrêtés, 1861, p.166.
- During the troubles of the wars of the French Revolution many books and valuable documents had surreptitiously followed an “unofficial” way. Indeed, in many libraries in Europe they are books and manuscripts coming certainly from the old University of Louvain as its founding charter of 1425 which was based in 1909 at the seminar of s'Hertogenbosch, our as an incunable coutaining the courses of the law professor Henricus de Piro who was based in the late twentieth century in the National Széchényi Library in Budapest.
- 1627: Nicolaus Vernulaeus, Academia Lovaniensis. Ejus origo, incrementum, viri illustres, res gestae, Louvain, 1627.
- 1635: Valerius Andreas, Fasti academici Lovanienses, Louvain, edited by Jean Olivier et Corneille Coenesteyn, 1635.
- 1829: Baron Frédéric de Reiffenberg, Mémoires sur les deux premiers siècles de l'Université de Louvain, Brussels, 1829-35.
- 1838: P. De Ram, Laforêt et Namêche, Analectes pour servir à l'histoire de l'Université de Louvain, in, Annuaire de l'Université de Louvain, 1838-65.
- 1856: F. Nève. Mémoire historique et littéraire sur le collège des Trois-langues à l'Université de Louvain, Brussels, 1856.
- 1881: E. Reusens, Documents relatifs à l'histoire de l'Université de Louvain (1425-1797), in Analectes pour servir à l'histoire ecclésiastique, t. XVII and sequents, 1881-92.
- 1881: P. De Ram, Codex veterum statutorum Academiae Lovaniensis, Brussels, 1881.
- 1884: Arthur Verhaeghen, Les cinquante dernières années de l'ancienne Université de Louvain, Liège, 1884.
- 1945: Léon van der Essen, L'université de Louvain, Brussels, 1945.
- F. Claeys Boúúaert, L'Ancienne Université de Louvain, Études et Documents,Louvain 1956.
- 1959: F. Claeys Boúúaert, Contribution à l'histoire économique de l'Ancienne Université de Louvain,1959.
- 1977: Claude Bruneel, Répertoire des thèses de l'Ancienne Université, Louvain,1977.
- 1990: Emiel Lamberts et Jan Roegiers, Leuven University, 1425-1985, Louvain, University Press, 1990.
- 1990: Jan Roegiers, "Was de oude Universiteit Leuven een Rijksuniversiteit? ", in Archief-en bibliotheekwezen in België, 1990, p. 545.
- 2007: Toon Quaghebeur, "Quelques caractéristiques de la querelle entre l’Université de Louvain et le Saint-Office sur le Jansénisme louvaniste du XVIIe siècle", in: Controverse et polémiques religieuses. Antiquité-Temps Modernes, Paris, l’Harmattan, 2007, p. 87-96.