Authentica habita

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Authentica habita,[1] or Privilegium Scholasticum, was a document written in 1155 ca.[1] by the Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa.[2] In it, he set out for the first time some of the rules, rights and privileges of students and scholars. It is an important precursor to the formation of medieval universities in Europe.

Scholars from all over Europe had begun to travel to Bologna to study civil and canon law, and newly rediscovered works of Roman law, from the mid-11th century. As foreigners there, they found themselves without legal protection. A particular difficulty was the practice of the Right of Reprisal, where their property could be seized on foot of debts incurred by their countrymen.

The document grants several rights and protections to scholars including:

  1. Similar immunities and freedoms as those held by the clergy, provided they conformed to certain attributes, such as clerical dress;
  2. Freedom of movement and travel for the purposes of study;
  3. Immunity from the right of reprisal; and
  4. The right to be tried by their masters, or the Bishops court, rather than local civil courts.

The document was subsequently confirmed by Pope Alexander III. The emperor incorporated the document into Justinian’s Codex, the extant body of Roman law, indicating its significance.

One medieval commentary to the document exists, written by Bartolomeo Bolognini[3] in 1492. See also Pearl Kibre's "Scholarly privileges in the Middle Ages".[4]


  1. ^ a b "Authentica Habita.", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 20 Sep. 2010.
  2. ^ Hilde de Ridder-Symoens (ed.): A History of the University in Europe. Vol. I: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-521-36105-2
  3. ^ BARTOLOMEUS BOLOGNINUS, Commentary on the Imperial Constitution “Authentica Habita” (1154-1155) [Repetita commentatio super Autentica Constitutione Habita] In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper Italy, Bologna, dated 12 January 1492 [1] Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Kibre, Pearl (1962). Scholarly Privileges in the Middle Ages: The Rights, Privileges, and Immunities of Scholars and Universities at Bologna, Padua, Paris, and Oxford. Cambridge, Mass.: Mediaeval Academy of America. Retrieved 9 July 2020. Among the specific privilegia drawn up on behalf of scholars, the Privilegium scholasticum, or Authentica Habita issued by the emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, at the Diet of Roncaglia in November of 1158, is the most famous and influential of its kind.

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