Talk:Medieval university

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Does anyone have any details about Cairo? All I know for sure is that it is the world's oldest continuing university. PML.

All these things depend on the definition of the word "University". There were schools all over the world much earlier than this, but whether or not they were "Universities" depends on how you define this word. With some definitions of "University" only pre-1500AD European institutions would qualify. Rnt20 14:12, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

An institution needs to be in a Christian Land in order to be considered as an "university." That is the most important fact(!). They did not even included where Constantinople is located until I added it. No, ancient universities of Muslims are included except The one in Istanbul. Europeans learnt science from the Moor Arabs of Andalucia, and Turks...


  1. The spelling "mediaeval" is much more common in British English; as there were no U.S. mediaeval universities, this spelling would therefore seem to be more suitable.
  2. If you insist on changing it back without discussion, you should at least deal with the double redirects, and alter the text of the article in line with the title. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 07:48, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:WikiProject Middle Ages/British spelling of Medieval. If you didn't change all the redirects in the first place we wouldn't have to fix them. Why this article specifically? There was no medieval anything in the US, yet all our medieval articles use "medieval". Adam Bishop 15:59, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
I see that you've simply reverted again, making your appearance of discussion a sham. I'll leave it; another conflict involving boorish editing is more than I need. (And of course I changed the redirects; that's what you're supoosed to do when you move a page.) --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 21:34, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Even the OUP Catalog calls it "Medieval", I would image it's a pretty standard convention at Oxford? --Stbalbach 23:27, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Pre-university education[edit]

I'm looking at education. I was wondering about previous education, such as the equivelent of secondary school today. Does anyone know about this? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Wikipedia is in need of an article that discusses medieval pre-University education. It's more complicated as it varies widely depending on time, place, social status and future track (just as today). I have some sources and will see if it's enough to start an article. -- Stbalbach 17:52, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Byzantine universities[edit]

Byzantine universities is an entirely separate topic with a very different history than those in Western Europe. There is more than enough material on the subject for a separate article. -- Stbalbach 23:52, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't see why that means Constantinople has to be removed. Also, Istanbul University does not really date from 1453, so it probably shouldn't be on the list...and if the Byzantine university is too different, why would the Ottoman university fit? Adam Bishop 18:12, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm going by how the DMA defines it. "University" is a western term and it means an autonomous institution. There was no such thing in the Byzantine empire, and they certainly never used the term University. Perhaps the Istanbul university became autonomous in 1453? Perhaps the Ottoman university was autonomous? --Stbalbach 00:10, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, as our own Istanbul University says, "Istanbul University (Turkish İstanbul Üniversitesi ) was founded as an institution of higher education named Darülfünun in 1863. It was refounded as İstanbul Darülfünunu in 1912. İstanbul Darülfünunu was closed by Kemal Atatürk in 1933 and Istanbul University was established in its place. Interestingly, the University claims that the date of establishment is 1453, which seems to have no relevant historical background." I think you are being overly exclusive in the use of "medieval" and "university". Okay, the university in Constantinople didn't work like the university in Paris, but it is generally similar, and not even all the western universities were exactly the same. Adam Bishop 01:13, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
A defining characteristic of a university is it is autonomous. Higher education existed since Roman times and earlier, but we don't call them Universities. At some point what we now call a "University" began - and it is generally recognized to have been in Italy, not Byzantium, this is well documented. I'm OK with removing Istanbul University from the list, I had not researched it, assumed it was accurate, guess not. -- Stbalbach 01:22, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

University of Constantinople[edit]

(the below thread was moved here from User:Stbalbach's talk page)

Concerning this edit of yours. What today is known in english as 'University of Constantinople', was called during the period u are refering to as 'Πανδιδακτήριον' (etymology: παν=every + διδαχή=teaching/education). The modern greek word for 'university' is 'πανεπιστήμιο' (etymology: παν=every + επιστήμη=science). these words are synonymous in greek and both represent the greek equivelent of the latin word, from which the english word comes from. Maybe the word 'university' did not exist in english back in the 9th century, but its greek equivelent did exist. There is no dispute concerning the name or the nature of this institute in the Byzantine Empire. Regards --Hectorian 22:32, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

See Byzantine university (which I wrote). There have been schools of higher education since the Greeks, but what we think of as a "University" - an autonomous institution - did not first appear in Byzantium; it was an Italian and French institution of the 11th century. Using etymology misses the bigger point, University of Constantinople was nothing like we think of Universities today (or in the 11th century) Italy and France). -- Stbalbach 14:22, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
Hi. I've read both University of Constantinople and Byzantine university (u did a good job, btw). However, i can't see why the University of Constantinople cannot be considered a university in the 'true sense', or at least why the western european can be considered, but this cannot. The article about Medieval universities should not look to the issue from the Catholic perspective. The Pope did not have the privillege to recognise which institution of higher education is a university and which isn't. Moreover, saying that the U. of Const. received money from the state/church, so it was not 'autonomous', contradicts with what we know for the w.european universities as well: they also received money from the Roman Church and/or their respecive states/kingdoms. I am not only talking about the whole thing by mentioning etymology (if i did so, i would even include Plato's Academy!). I am not going to add back the U. of Const. in the list for the moment, waiting for your reply. It is a list about medieval universities, not about Catholic universities. if it remains with the current title, Constantinoupolis should be included as well, if not, lets rename it into 'Roman Catholic Medieval Universities'. --Hectorian 00:40, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
It is original research to call the University of Constantinople the worlds oldest and first University. I've provided top-tier academic resources and this is what they say on the subject. When determining what should be listed as a University, you have to define what is meant by "University". And the academics have done so. We can call Constantinople a University by analogy, which is fine, but when you look at what the academic sources say on the history of Universities, Italy and France are the first. Western universities were in fact autonomous, in Italy the students hired the teachers and in Paris it was initially funded by the Church, but it still maintained autonomy within the church - these were new and important changes that have lasted to the present day (well, now fully autonomous from the church). The Byzantine school was a state institution. The state rulers decided what teachers to hire, what courses to teach, etc... further the University of Constantinople was no different than schools going back to at least the 5th century in Byzantium - and if we include the University of Constantinople in this list, then we need to also include all the previous schools, because they were no different. There is a line drawn when Universities began, and it was not at Constantinople. -- Stbalbach 13:31, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
If u look University of Bologna, u will see that it was probably the first University in the western world. however, here it is listed first, without a note that it is not sure. and it was only when in 1158 Frederick I promulgated the Constitutio Habita, in which the University was legally declared a place where research could develop independently from any other power, making it a recognised university. In the University of Oxford in 1214 a papal legate authorised the appointment of a chancellor of the University (Church involvement was very high in those universities, similarly as the involvement of the Patriarchate in the University of Constantinople). Moreover, The University's status was formally confirmed by an Act for the Incorporation of Both Universities in 1571, so, previously, its status was disputed... Saying that the University of Constantinople was no different that the other schools in the region, is obviously false... Bringing as a fact for calling the western european educational institutes as universities simply cause in Italy the students hired the teachers is also false, cause this phenomenon dates back to ancient Greece and this is not a sole characteristic of universities. U also said in Paris it was initially funded by the Church, but it still maintained autonomy within the church. what does this suppose to mean? did the Catholic Chuch had a role to play within the uni? well, it had, and it also got involved in uni affairs, in the same way that the University of Oxford served as the site of the king's court and parliament and served as the site of the Oxford Movement in the Church of England in the 1830s. Every University has different characteristics from the other, but this is not a reason to list some as 'not exactly universities'. And i am saying this again, that u are looking on the issue from the Catholic prespective, since u consider universities only those that were recognised as such by the the Pope, and thus u have included universities from only Catholic countries (the Church of England seperated from the Roman Catholic in 1534). if u insist in removing the 'University of Constantinople' from the list, i will request a rename of the article in 'Roman Catholic Medieval Universities', since this is the field that this article covers... --Hectorian 14:05, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Hector, there is no need to rename the article - it says on the top hat, first line:
This article is about Western European institutions. See also Byzantine university
the distinction is made up-front. I'm not sure what the problem is. It is normal and expected to discuss these as separate and not the same thing, they really are different, very little in this article applies to Byzantine universities. When people say "medieval university", western roman catholic institutions is by far the most common meaning. -- Stbalbach 14:47, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
I do not know very much about the University of Constantinople (there is practically nothing on the internet about it). On the page University it notes that "The University of Constantinople (Byzantine Empire), re-founded in 849 AD by the regent Bardas of emperor Michail III, is generally considered to be the first institution of higher learning with the characteristics we associate with University today (research and teaching, self-administration, academic independence, etc.)" -- unless someone has evidence that this is incorrect or invented, then I would think that the University of Constantinople should be added to the Medieval university list. The original reason for excluding University of Constantinople from the list was apparently because it did not match the definition of University given on the page University, and the fact that the institute was not Roman Catholic was not mentioned, making the above statement by Hectorian seem rather nasty and vindictive -- if there are sources which show that the University of Constantinople did not match the definition of University it should be put on. Rnt20 14:30, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, well, Wikipedia is not a reliable source (unless it is sourced). There seems to be an effort by a number of interested parties on Wikipedia to present the University of Constantinople as being the first University, and to throw out the established western historical tradition as being "Catholic POV". This is certainly a valid way to look at things, from a Byzantine Greek perspective, but it is a minority point of view in the western European historical tradition (ie. English Wikipedia). Yet - it is presented as the main/only point of view on Wikipedia. This is typical of Wikipedia. All I can say is, we present what the majority view is, we document what other people say - not what we think they should say. I find it interesting that the University of Constantinople article contains no sources or discussion about when it was called a University or by who. -- Stbalbach 14:47, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
I added a citation there. It was called university in 849 by the Byzantine emperor Vardas. Regarding what Rnt20 said above, i agree that the way i presented it seemed nasty and vindictive, however i have to say that i have nothing against the Catholics (in fact, quite the contrary). i just wanted to say the obvious: that this article contains only 'Roman Catholic Universities' and as such, i do not think that it should be called just 'Medieval Universities'. And since Stbalbach says that it says on the top hat, first line: This article is about Western European institutions. See also Byzantine university...
I do not see why we should not rename the article. The terms 'Medieval' and 'Middle Ages' does not apply only to Western Europe, and it is misleading for the readers. (u can see the box in the same page listing the Byzantine Empire as part of the Medieval World). I am sorry, but i do not think that the English Wikipedia should appeal to and present only the western European historical tradition. An encyclopedia should list facts, not present traditions (of any kind) as facts). Thus, the University of Constantinople has all the potential to be listed here, unless this article is not about 'Medieval Universities'. About the Greek or Byzantine Greek POV, allow me to say that in most of the cases, i do not see it forced or presented (not even by the Greek users) and especially not in education-related topics. --Hectorian 15:14, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Concerning my 'implied comment' that Rnt20 correctly pointed out: the fact that the institute was not Roman Catholic was not mentioned: i see in the list, Medieval Universities in Mexico and the Philippines. However, Middle Ages (Medieval) is a division of the European history, not the American or Asian (see respective article). Hence, why are those Universities included here, unless the reason is of them been Roman Catholic educational institutions? Hectorian 15:29, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
This is the English Wikipedia, generally we name articles according to what native English speakers know it commonly by. Article names are not pronouncements of fact, they are simply place holders of convenience to help the reader find and understand what the article is about, for example Medieval science -- there was no "science" in the middle ages. Even if we did rename the article, "Medieval university" would still be a redirect here, and we would still need the Byzantine top-hat line, simply because when someone says "medieval university", they almost always mean the western European tradition. Personally I think the top hat line is more than enough information to help the reader find the correct article. The article explains its self clearly that this is about western European universities in the text of the article. I suppose it could say a little more about the difference between the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. -- Stbalbach 13:06, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
An article that includes universities in Mexico, the Philippines and Peru, is not an article about western European universities... A paragraph explaining a little more about the difference between the Catholic and Orthodox traditions would be quite interesting in here, since, i think, it would explain why it is so difficult to have a Byzantine University here, and it is no difficult at all to list universities in other continents... --Hectorian 19:52, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
Well, i agree those should not be in the article. I didn't write the whole article, nor police every entry randomly added. The first/oldest is obviously of more significance. -- Stbalbach 12:57, 10 September 2006 (UTC)


The division of early universities setting left out one catorgy, does anyone happen to know what that might be? Just for a reminder, the first catorgy was; Bologna - students ran the university, and Paris - teachers ran the university. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Not sure I understand - can you elaborate? -- Stbalbach 16:24, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Renaissance of the 12th century[edit]

There probably ought to be a link to the page Renaissance of the 12th century in the section about the foundation of the early universities Bluap 16:15, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

No mention of University of Al Karaouine ?[edit]

University of Al Karaouine was built in 859AD, why isn't it in the list. Its also considered by the Guiness Book of Record as the oldest existing university in the world. Its still operating in Morocco. --Itsalif 23:50, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Italy vs Paris/Oxford[edit]

There were significant differences between Italian universities and Paris/Oxford, most notably that Italian universities generally didn't have much in the way of arts curricula, and were mostly focused on law and medicine. Furthermore, the genesis of Oxford (non-cathedral school), Paris (cathedral school), and Bologna (law school) were significantly different. SmaleDuffin 20:28, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Grammar in the first line[edit]

"Medieval university is such an institution of higher learning which was established during Gothic period and is a corporation."

Shouldn't it be "A Medieval university..." or "Medieval universities are such institutions...."? Grant (talk) 01:55, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Article needs language revision[edit]

The prose throughout the article needs style and grammar editing (missing articles, awkward word order, and typical English as a second language mistakes). Sorry, I would do it but can't afford the time at the moment--and this is not my field of expertise (I was simply trying to find out something about the history of European universities) Cat1974 (talk) 14:36, 7 December 2008 (UTC)


Are Cambridge and Oxford the only beautiful medieval universities? Why? Is it because they were the only Collegiate universities? Were they the only collegiate universities? I've always wondered about this, and feel it should be included. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:27, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

In fact many medieval universities had colleges: they originated at the University of Paris (Sorbonne, the nickname of the university of Paris, was actually the name of one of its most famous colleges), and many of the old universities in Spain and Portugal (e.g. Salamanca and Coimbra), as well as the Old University of Leuven had colleges. They were all closed at the end of the 18th and start of the 19th century, in the political turmoil of the time. Several of the colleges of the University of Paris were transformed into highschools that exist to today, such as the Lycee Louis-le-Grand. Colleges were much rarer or even non-existing in the Italian and German universities, see however the Collegio di Spagna.--Jakkm77 (talk) 10:08, 1 December 2012 (UTC)

Copyright problems with[edit]

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The link should be to here. Question is, which came first. Casliber (talk · contribs) 03:42, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

The website information states the following: Posted by: denis19203
Date Posted: 12/14/2010 07:41 PM Category: History Words: 919 Pages: 4 :Number of Views: 9.
Therefore the information was posted today. I think that the Wikipedia article was mirrored at the website today. Dr.K. λogosπraxis 03:52, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Edit request from, 3 January 2011[edit]

{{edit semi-protected}} Should say the first universities were found in The Holy Roman Empire instead of Italy (italy did not exist at the time). (talk) 07:52, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. Stickee (talk) 13:11, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Copy of message left on Talk:University[edit]

Since the same/similar disagreement appears to be happening here and at University, I'll copy/paste my message here.

I have no opinion on the underlying disagreement. It appears you two have been arguing mostly with each other, you should consider a third opinion, or leave a neutrally worded request at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Universities for fresh input. The key to a surprising number of disagreements is more eyeballs.

However, it is unacceptable to attempt to "win" a dispute simply by continually reverting to your preferred version, all the while making comments on the article talk page that are essentially nothing more than insults. This not what is meant by "discussion". So, User:Tasho.spasev aka User: aka User: aka User:, the next time you make a revert on the article talk page without a respectful, coherent, non-insulting explanation on the article talk page, I will begin to simply block your account/IP address, revert all of your edits, and if necessary long-term semi-protect the article. --Floquenbeam (talk) 21:50, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

It appears from the moralities in that the articles "University" and "Medieval University" are entirely based on subjective personal perception of self-appointed "owners" of Wikipedia, but not on the REAL TRUTH!
Thank you, Floquenbeam, for banning the freedom of speech and for erasing the opposite opinions! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:04, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Articles University is rated "C" which means "The article is substantial, but is still missing important content or contains a lot of irrelevant material. The article should have references to reliable sources, but may still have significant issues or require substantial cleanup." and Medieval university is rated "Start" which means "An article that is developing, but which is quite incomplete and may require further reliable sources.". For sure, there is a long way to go. The aim is "presenting each point of view accurately and in context, and not presenting any point of view as "the truth" or "the best view"". I do not feel as an "owner", but what I would really welcome is that we can "interact in a respectful and civil manner" on these talk pages (more to read about what Wikipedia is in WP:PILLARS). --Anneyh (talk) 06:42, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Please let me know where and how we can discuss with you, given all opponents of the western Roman-catholic "superiority" have been banned even on the discussion page?
How do you intend to "present each point of view accurately" once everybody who wants to add information on the medieval East European contribution has been kicked out?
Another interesting point is the claim that no universities could exist before emerging of the term "university". Analogously, it appears that, for example, no photosynthesis existed in the nature before the term "photosynthesis" was established! :) The so-called "continuous action" is quite controversial as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:45, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

I do fully agree with those who say that this article is of racist nature – any information about the Chinese, Byzantine, Greek, North African, Arab or Slavic contribution to the history or pre-history of university education has been kicked out (irrespectively how credible the cited sources are)! - — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 00:06 (UTC), 23 May 2011

In this article the name of George Makdisi is cited to justify two opposite explanations about the historical relations between European university and madrasas

antoio a serra niterói - rj brasil — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:23, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Beginnings and Establishment sections[edit]

The Beginnings section is becoming confounded with the subsequent section on Establishment. One source of this problem may be that the titles themselves are almost synonymous. I propose renaming the Beginnings section to Antecedents, to make clearer what is intended. If done, I'll also move a few paragraphs on the foundation of universities into the Establishment section. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 21:07, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

The last paragraph of the Beginnings section is strange (vandalized?). Why is "George Makdisi" mentioned three times and seemingly disagreeing with himself?
MagnusPalmblad (talk) 14:36, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
I've taken some steps to reorganize the first sections as I discussed above. Someone more familiar with Makdisi's changing views should look more closely at the citations Magnus mentioned. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 16:05, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Makdisi is actually disagreeing with himself. Curious, but this is the case. He has put forward two contradictory theories in his career. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 10:12, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
GPM, since you seem reasonably familiar with Makdisi's changing positions, could you edit that discussion so it clarifies the relationship of his earlier and later opinions. As it stands it is rather incoherent. Thanks. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 03:44, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Use of "corporation" in first paragraph[edit]

Suggestion: could use clarification.

Lay readers will be confused by the phrasing that these universities are "a corporation."

In fact, it even linked to the business structure till I changed it to link to the appropriate version of this term.

Still, it needs clarity.

It's my understanding that a corporation is a subdivision of students within a university based on common heritage. So it would seem that while a medieval university may have HAD corporations, it is not accurate to say that the university ITSELF was a corporation. Especially not without giving some sort of contextual definition of how the word corporation is being used. The word has a current and very specific meaning in modern English. And that meaning had nothing to do with universities or students. We want to be clear to the modern reader.

I'd make the corrections myself but I'm hesitant in case there's someone who is a medieval expert who wishes to rewrite / improve / clarify the Introduction. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:31, 1 July 2012 (UTC)

No, the point is precisely that the University is -- like other medieval guilds -- a corporate body, that is, a legal organization that can establish its rules, select its officers, sue or be sued, etc. The original link to corporation was apparently intended, but is inappropriate as you pointed out. The problem is the article corporation doesn't say anything of the tradition in Roman Law out of which this concept of corporation emerged. However, your link to the student corporations (which according to the article stem from the 19th and 20th centuries), is also inappropriate.
I'm going to delete the link until something better turns up. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 20:27, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
The subdivision of students was the "Nation". That article links to "Corporation (university)", but it doesn't seem to mention what we're talking about here. Adam Bishop (talk) 21:05, 1 July 2012 (UTC)
I just added a bit on Roman law of corporations to the history section of the corporation article and added a link in this article. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 21:39, 1 July 2012 (UTC)