Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico

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Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico
Real y Pontificia Universidad de México
Active 21 September 1551–1865
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Location Mexico City, Mexico
Campus Urban

The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico (in Spanish: Real y Pontificia Universidad de México) was founded on 21 September 1551 by Royal Decree signed by Charles I of Spain, in Valladolid, Spain.[1] It is generally considered the first university officially[2] founded in North America and second in the Americas (preceded by the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, chartered on May 12 of the same year).

After the Mexican War of Independence it was renamed University of Mexico. When Mexican liberals were in power at intervals in the nineteenth century, it was closed, since liberals sought to put education in the hands of the state rather than the Roman Catholic Church. Its first closure was in 1833, when Valentín Gómez Farías implemented liberal policies. When Antonio López de Santa Anna returned to power, the university was reopened. It closed again during the Liberal Reform of the late 1850s. During the Second Mexican Empire, the university was reopened by Maximilian I of Mexico and, after the victory by the liberals in 1867, was again closed.[3] Scattered institutions, mainly civil colleges founded by the liberals and religious establishments outside Mexico City, continued without interruption.

In 1910 during the regime of Porfirio Díaz, the university was revived under Justo Sierra. Traditionally, the National Autonomous University of Mexico is a public university, considered the institutional heir of the earlier Pontifical University of Mexico, but under state rather than church control.


The university was organized by five faculties: Theology, Laws, Fees, Medicine and Arts. The principal subjects or chairs (in Spanish, cátedras) were Prima and Vísperas, due to the first class was in the morning and the second at evening. The university grants different grades like bachiller, licenciado, maestro and doctor, that means bachelor, graduate, mastery and doctorate.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]


  1. ^ Olvera Arce, Guillermo (2000-05-20). "Real y Pontificia Universidad de México" (in Spanish). El Universal (Mexico City). 
  2. ^ Founded by Royal Decree of Charles I of Spain on September 12, 1551.
  3. ^ Daniel C. Levy, "University System" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, p. 1472.

See also[edit]