The principal Catholic foundations have been treated in special articles; here the general aspects of the subject are presented:

I. Origin and organization;
II. Academic work and development;
III. Renaissance and Reformation;
IV. Modern period;
V. Catholic action.


Although the name university is sometimes given to the celebrated schools of Athens and Alexandria, it is generally held that the universities first arose in the Middle Ages. For those that were chartered during the thirteenth century, dates and documents can be accurately given; but the beginnings of the earliest are obscure, hence the legends connected with their origin: Oxford was supposed to have been founded by King Alfred, Paris by Charlemagne, and Bologna by Theodosius II (A.D. 433). These myths, though they survived well on into modern times, are now generally rejected, and the historian's only concern with them is to discover their sources and trace their development. It is known, however, that during the eleventh and twelfth centuries a revival of studies took place, in medicine at Salerno, in law at Bologna, and in theology at Paris. The medical school at Salerno was the oldest and the most famous of its kind in the Middle Ages; but it exerted no influence on the development of the universities. At Paris, the study of dialectics received a fresh impetus from teachers like Roscellin and Abelard, and eventually it displaced the study of the Classics which, especially at Chartres, had constituted an energetic though short-lived humanistic movement. The dialectical method, moreover, was applied to theological questions and, mainly through the work of Peter Lombard, was developed into Scholasticism (q.v.). This meant not only that all sorts of questions were taken up for discussion and examined with the utmost subtlety, but also that a new basis was provided for the exposition of doctrine and that theology itself was cast into the systematic form which it presents in the works of St. Thomas, and above all, in the great "Summa". At Bologna, the new movement was practical rather than speculative, it afected the teaching, not of philosophy and theology, but of civil and canon law. Previous to the twelfth century, Bologna ahd been famous as a school of arts, while in regard to legal science it was far surpassed by other cities, e.g. Rome, Pavia, and Ravenna. That it became within a comparatively short time the chief centre of the teaching of law, not in Italy alone but in all Europe, was due mainly to Irnerius and to Gratian (q.v.). The former introduced the systematic study of the whole Corpus juris civilis, and differentiated the course in law from that in the Liberal Arts; the latter, in his "Decretum", applied the scholastic method to canon law, and secured for this science a distinct place apart from theology. In consequence, Bologna, long before it became a university, attracted large numbers of students from all parts of the Empire, and its teachers, as they became more numerous, also attained unrivalled prestige.

The school growing thus vigorously from within was further strengthened by the privileges which the emperor granted. In the "Authentic" Habita issued in 1158, Frederick I took under his protection the scholars who resorted to the schools of Italy for the purpose of study, and decreed that they should travel without hindrance or molestation, and that, in case complaint was lodged against them, they should have the option of defending themselves either before their professors or before the bishop. This grant naturally turned to the profit of Bologna; but it also served as the basis of many privileges subsequently accorded to this and to other schools. That Paris also enjoyed similar protection and immunities from an early date is highly probable, though the first grant of which there is record was made by Philip Augustus in 1200. To these two factors of internal growth and external advantage, a third had to be added before Paris or Bologna could become a university: it was necessary to secure a corporate organization. Both cities by the middle of the twelfth century possessed the requisite elements in the way of schools, sholars, and teachers. At Paris three schools were especially prominent: Saint Victor's, attached to the church of the canons regular; Sainte-Geneviève-du-Mont, conducted first by seculars and later by canons regular; and Notre-Dame, the school of the Cathedral on the "Island". According to one account these three schools unived to form the university; Denifle, however (Die Universitäten, 655 sqq.), maintains that it originated in Notre-Dame only, and that this school therefore was the cradle of the University of Paris. This does not imply that the cathedral school as an institution was elevated to the rank of a university by royal or pontifical charter. The initiative was taken by the professors who, with the licence of the chancellor of Notre-Dame and subject to his authority, taught either at the cathedral or in private dwellings on the "Island". When these professors, in the last quarter of the twelfth century, inited in one teaching body, the University of Paris was founded (For the older view, see PARIS, UNIVERSITY OF).

This consortium magistorum included the professors of theology, law, medicine, and arts (philosophy). As the teachers of the same subject had special interests, they naturally formed smaller groups within the centre body. The name "faculty" originally designated a discipline or branch of knowledge, and was employed in this sense by Honorius III in his letter (18 Feb., 1219) to the scholars of Paris; later, it came to mean the group of professors engaged in teaching the same subject. The closer organization into faculties was occasioned in the first instance by questions which arose in 1213, regarding the conferring of degrees. Then came the drafting of statutes for each faculty whereby its own internal affairs were regulated and lines of demarcation drawn between its sphere of action and those of the other faculties. This organization must have been completed within the first half, or perhaps first quarter, of the thirteenth century, since Gregory IX in the Bull "Parens scientiarum" (1231) recognizes the existence of separate faculties. The scholars, on their part, just as naturally fell into different groups. They belonged to various nationalities, and those from the same country must have realized the advantage, or even the necessity, of banding together in a city like Paris to which they came as strangers. This was the origin of the "Nations", which probably were organized early in the thirteenth century, though the first documentary evidence of their existence dates from 1249. The four Nations at Paris were those of the French, the Picards, the Normans, and the English. They were distinctively student associations, formed for purposes of administration and discipline, whereas the faculties were organized to deal with matters relating to the several sciences and the work of teaching. The Nations, therefore, did not constitute the university, nor were they identical with the faculties. The masters in arts were included in the Nations and at the same time belonged to the faculty of arts, because the course in arts was simply a preparation for higher studies in one of the superior faculties, and hence arts formed an "inferior" faculty, whose masters were still classed as scholars. The professors of the superior faculties did not belong to the Nations.

Each Nation elected from among its members a masters of arts as procurator (proctor), and the four procurators elected the rector, i.e. the head of the Nations, not, at first, the head of the university. As, however, the faculty of arts was closely bound up with the Nations, the rector gradually became the chief officer of that faculty, and was recognized as such in 1274. His authority extended later to the faculties of law and medicine (1279) and finally (1341) to the faculty of theology; thenceforward the rector is the head of the entire university. On the other hand, the office of rector did not confer very large powers. From the beginning the chief authority had been exercised by the chancellor, as the pope's representative; and though this authority, by reason of conflicts with the university, had been somewhat reduced during the thirteenth century, the chancellor was still sufficiently powerful to overshadow the rector. Before the university came into existence, the chancellor had conferred the licence to teach, and this function he continued to perform all though the process of organization and after the faculties with their various officials were fully established.

At Bologna, towards the close of the twelfth century, voluntary associations were established by the foreign, i.e., non-Bolognese, students for purposes of mutual support and protection. These students were not boys, but mature men; many of them were beneficed clergymen. In their organization they copied the guilds of travelling tradesmen; each association comprised a number of Nations, enacted its own statutes, and elected a rector who was assisted by a body of consiliarii. These student-guilds were known as universitates, i.e. corporations in the accepted legal sense, not teaching bodies. Originally four in number they were reduced by the middle of the thirteenth century to two: universitas citramontanorum and universitas ultramontanorum. Neither the Bolognese students nor the doctors, being citizens of Bologna, belonged to a "university". The doctors were employed, under contract, and paid by the scholars, and were subject, in many respects, to the statutes framed by the student-bodies. In spite of this dependence, however, the professors retained control of strictly academic affairs; they were the rectores scholarum, while the heads of the universities were rectores scholarium; in particular, the right of promotion, i.e. conferring degrees, was reserved to the doctors. These also formed associations, the collegia doctorum, which probably existed at or before the time of the founding of the student "universities". At first the doctors had full charge of examinations and in their own name granted the licence to teach. But in 1219 Honorius III gave the Archdeacon of Bologna exclusive authority to confer the doctorate, thus creating an office equivalent to that of the chancellor at Paris. The doctorate itself, as implying the right to membership in the collegium, was gradually restricted to the narrower circle of the doctores legentes, i.e. actually teaching. On the other hand, the student control was lessened by the fact that, in order to offset the inducements offered by rival towns, the city of Bologna, towards the end of the thirteenth century, began to pay the professors a regular salary in place of the fees formerly given, in such amounts as they saw fit, by the scholars. As a result the appointment of the professors was taken over by the city, and eventually by the reformatores studii, a board established by the local authority. Meantime the two "universities" were being drawn together in one body and this was brought into closer relations with the college of doctors; so that Clement V (10 March, 1310) could speak of a magistorum et scholarium universitas at Bologna. At the beginning of the sixteenth century there was only one rector.

The growth of Oxford followed, in the main, that of Paris. In the middle of the twelfth century the schools were flourishing: Robert Pullen (q.v.), author of the "Sentences" on which the more famous work of Peter Lombard is largely based, and Vacarius, the eminent Lombard jurist, are mentioned as teachers. The number of students, already considerable, was swelled in 1167 by an exodus from Paris. There were two Nations: the Boreales (Northern) included the English and Scottish students; the Australes (Southern), the Welsh and Irish. In 1274 these coalesced in one Nation, but the two proctors remained distinct. In 1209, owing to difficulties with the town, 3000 scholars dispersed. On their return, the papal legate Nicholas issued (1214) an ordinance enjoining that the town should pay an annual sum for the use of poor scholars and that "in case a clerk should be arrested by the townsmen, he should at once be surrendered on the demand of the Bishop of Lincoln, or the archdeacon of the place or his official or the chancellor, or whomsoever the Bishop of Lincoln shall depute to this office" (Muniments, I, p. 2). The first statutes were enacted in 1252, and confirmed by Innocent IV in 1254. The chancellor at first was an independent official appointed by the Bishop of Lincoln to act as ecclesiastical judge in scholastic matters. Gradually, however, he was absorbed into the university and became its head.

The development at Paris and Bologna explains the term by which the university was first designated, i.e. studium generale. This did not originally and essentially mean a school of universal learning, nor did it include all the four faculties; theology was often omitted or even excluded by the early charters. It first appears at Bologna in 1360, at Salamanca towards the end of the fourteenth century, at Montpellier in 1421; yet each of these schools was a studium generale in the original sense of the term, i.e. a school which admitted students from all parts, enjoyed special privileges, and conferred a right to teach that was acknowledged everywhere. This jus ubique docendi was implied in the very nature of the studium generale; it was first explicitly conferred by Gregory IX in the Bull for Toulouse, 27 April, 1233, which declares that "any master examined there and approved in any faculty shall everywhere have the right to teach without further examination".

Universitas, as understood in the Middle Ages, was a legal term; it got its meaning from the Corpus juris civilis, and it denoted an association taken as a whole, i.e. in its corporate capacity. Employed with reference to a school, universitas did not mean a collection of all the sciences, but rather the entire group of persons engaged at a given institution in scientific pursuits, i.e. the whole body of teachers and students: universitas magistorum et scholarium. This is the meaning of the term in official documents relating to Paris and Bologna; thus Alexander IV (10 Dec., 1255) states expressly that under the name university he understands "all the masters and scholars residing at Paris, to whatever society or congregation they may belong." Gradually, however, the terms universitas and studium came to be used promiscuously to denote an institution of learning: Universitas Ozoniensis and Studium Oxoniense were both applied to Oxford. There is mention as early as 1279 of delicta in universitate Oxoniae perpetrata (Munimenta, I, 39), and in the next century such phrases occur as (1306) in universitate Oxoniae studere (ibid., 87 sqq.). That the terms had become practically synonymous at the beginning of the fourteenth century appears from a statement of Clement V, 13 July, 1312, to the effect that the Archbishop of Dublin, John Lech, had reported that in those parts there was no scolarium universitas vel studium generale. About 1300 also the expression mater universitas was used by the Oxford masters, and these may have taken it from a document of Innocent IV (6 Oct., 1254) in which the pope speaks of Oxford as faecunda mater. Later, the expression alma mater was applied, e.g. to Paris in 1389; Cologna, 1392; Oxford, 1411. Alma was probably suggested by the liturgical use, as e.g. in the hymn beginning "Alma redemptoris mater".

The earliest universities had no charters; they grew ex consuetudine. Out of these others quickly developed, by migration, or by formal establishment. As the universities in the beginning possessed no buildings like our modern halls and laboratories, it was an easy matter for the students and professors, in case they became dissatisfied in one place, to find accommodations in another. Conflicts with the town often led to such migrations, especially where some rival town offered inducements: hence the secessions from Bologna to Vicenza (1204), to Arezzo (1213), to Padua (1222), the "great dispersion" from Paris (1229), and the migration (1209) from Oxford to Cambridge. But causes of a less tumultuous sort were also operative. The privileges enjoyed by the first universities lead other cities to seek similar advantages in order to keep their own scholars at home, and possibly attract outsiders, thereby adding to the local prosperity and prestige. Bologna and Paris served as patterns for the new organizations, and the desired privileges were sought from pope or civil ruler. It became, indeed, usual for the papal charter to include a set formula granting the new university "the same privileges, immunities, and liberties which are enjoyed by the masters and scholars of Paris" (or Bologna); thus Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen were to a large extent modelled on Paris and Glasgow on Bologna. The Parisian type was also reproduced at the earliest German universities, Prague, Vienna, Erfurt, and Heidelberg; but these soon began to depart from the original. The Nations were of less imprtance; the rector might be chosen from any faculty; the authority was vested in permanent and endowed professrors who predominated in the university council; and the colleges were under the control of the university, which kept the teaching in its own hands.

In Ireland the first step towards establishing a university was taken by John Lech, Archbishop of Dublin. At his instance, Clement V issued, 11 July, 1113, a Bull for the erection of a university near Dublin; Lech, however, died a year later, and nothing was accomplished until his successor, Alexander de Bicknor, in 1320 established a university at St. Patrick's Cathedral with the approval of Pope John XXII. The first chancellor was William Rodiart, Dean of St. Patrick's, and the first graduates William de Hardite, O.P., Edward of Karwarden, O.P., and Henry Cogry, O.F.M. Lectures were still given in 1358; in that year Edward II issued letters-patent protecting the members of the university on their travels, and in 1364, Lionel, Duke of Clarence, founded a lectureship. The university failed from want of endowment, as did also the one founded by the Irish Parliament at Drogheda in 1465.

The Founders: Popes and Civil Rulers

In view of the importance of the universities for culture and progress, it is quite intelligible that there should be considerable discussion and divergence of opinion regarding the authority which should receive credit for their foundation. It has, e.g. been maintained that only the pope could establish a university; contrariwise, it has been held that such an establishment was the exclusive perogative of the civil rulers, i.e. emperor and king. These, however, are extreme positions, neither of which accords with the facts, while both are based on a study of a limited group of universities and, in large measure, on a failure to appreciate the relations of Church and State in the thirteenth century. From misunderstandings on the latter point erroneous conclusions have been drawn, not only regarding the origins of universities, but also the general attutude of the age towards the papacy and vice versa. Once it is settled, e.g. that, according to the view prevalent in the thirteenth century, only the pope could found a university, it is easy to interpret any similar foundation by a monarch or any initiative taken by a municipality, as evidence of hostility to the Holy See and as a first move towards that "emancipation" which actually came to pass in the sixteenth century. By the same sort of reasoning the inference is drawn that the pope resented the action of the civil power in granting charters and repressed all attempts at freedom on the part of the universities themselves. To set these conclusions in the proper light, it is sufficient to glance at the various modes of foundation.

Previous to the Reformation 81 universities were established. Of these 13 had no charter; they developed spontaneously ex consuetudine; 33 had only the papal charter; 15 were founded by imperial or royal authority; 20 by both papal and imperial (or royal) charters. Once the oldest universities, especialy Paris and Bologna, had grown to fame and influence so that their graduates enjoyed the licentia ubique docenti, it was recognized that a new institution, in order to become a studium generale, required the authorization of the supreme authority, i.e. of the pope as head of the Church or of the emperor as protector of all Christendom. Thus in "Las Siete Patridas" (1256-1263), Alfonso of Sabio declares that a "studium generale must be established by mandate of the pope, the emperor, or the king"); and St. Thomas (Op. contra impugn. relig., c. iii): "ordinare de studio pertinet ad eum qi praest reipublicae, et praecipue ad authoritatem apostolicae sedis qua universalis ecclesia gubernatur, cui per generale studium providetus", i.e. in the matter of universities the authority belongs to the chief ruler of the commonwealth and especially to the Apostolic See, the head of the universal Church, "the interest of which is furthered by the university". These last words contain the essential reason for seeking authorization from the pope: the university was not be be a merely local or national institution; its teaching and its degrees were to be recognized throughout the Christian world. On the other hand, in the civil order, the emperor was supreme; hence he conferred on the universities founded by him, without any papal charter, the right to grant degrees in all the faculties, theology and canon law included. The imperial charters were recognized by the popes and, whenever necessary, additional privileges were granted. It cannot then be said that the action of Maximilian I in founding (1502) the University of Wittenberg was an epoch-making event; Charles IV had long before done the same for Siena, Arezzo, an Orange, and the charters with which he founded Pavia and Lucca precceded by twenty years the papal grants.

The kings were not on the same plane as the emperor. They could indeed found a university, appoint the chancellor, and authorize him to confer degrees; but they could not establish a studium generale in the full sense of the term; what they founded was a university respectu regni, i.e. the degrees it granted were valid only within the limits of the kingdom. This was the situation at Naples, founded (1224) by Frederick II, and especially in the Spanish universities. The kings themselves were aware of their limitations in this respect, and accordingly sought the papal authorization. The popes on their part recognized the royal charters as valid, and added to them the character of university required for a studium generale. In some cases the papal intervention was necessary and was sought, not simply to confirm what the king had established, but to save or revive the university: such e.g. were the measures taken by Honorius III (1220) for Palencia, by Clement VII (1379) for Perpignan, and by Julius II (1464) for Huesca - all royal foundations which showed no vitality until the pope came to their assistance. The power of bishops and municipalities was, of course, still more restricted. They could take the initiative by calling professors, establishing courses of study, and providing endowments; but sooner or later they were obliged to seek authorization from the pope. This was notably the case in Italy where the free and enterprising cities (Treviso, Pisa, Florence, Siena), stimulated by Bologna's example, undertook the founding of their own universities. At Siena, it seemed at first that the attempt to get on without either imperial or papal charter would succeed; the studium, inaugurated in 1275, had ample funds and a large body of professors and students which was continually increased by an emigration from Bologna (1312); yet in 1325 it was on the verge of collapsing, and its existence was not secured until it obtained university privileges from Charles IV in 1457 and papal grants from Gregory XII in 1404. St. Andrews in Scotland was more fortunate. It was founded by Bishop Henry Wardlaw in 1411; but shortly after its opening the bishop in a document addressed 27 Feb., 1412, to the masters and scholars speaks of the "universitas a nobis salva tamen sedis apostolice auctoritate de facto instituta et fundata". Six months later (28 Aug., 1412), Benedict XIII (Avignon) issued the charter of foundation, and appointed Wardlaw as chancellor.

There is no ground, then, for the inference that the founding of universities by the civil power and their organization by laymen for lay students was a symptom of antagonism to the Holy See or an attempt at emancipation from the authority of the Church. Such an interpretation of the facts merely projects modern ideas back into a period in which an entirely different spirit prevailed. That spirit was one of co-operation, even of emulation, in a common cause; and neither the spirit nor the cause would have been possible but for the unity of faith and of hierarchical jurisdiction which held the West together in one Church. Had this unity included all Christendom, the East would doubtless have had its share in the university movement; at any rate, it is significant that in Russia and the other countries dominated by the schismatic Greek Church, no university was established during the Middle Ages.

Besides issuing charters the popes contibuted in various ways to the development and prosperity of the universities. (1) Clerics who held benefices were dispensed from the obligation of residence, if they absented themselves in order to attend a university. Both lay and clerical students enjoyed certain exemptions, e.g. from taxation, from military service, from the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts, and from citation to courts at a distance from Paris (privilegium fori). To safeguard these privileges was the special duty of the conservator Apostolic, usually a bishop or archbishop appointed by the pope for this purpose. (2) By the Bull "Parens scientiarum" (1231), the magna charta of the university of Paris, Gergory IX authorized the masters, in the event of an outrage committed by any one on a master or a scholar and not redressed within fifteen days, to suspend their lectures. This right of cessation was frequently made use of in conflicts between town and gown. (3) On various occasions the popes intervened to protect the scholars against the encroachments of the local civil authorities: Honorius III (1220) took the part of the scholars at Bologna when the podestà drew up statutes that interfered with their liberties; Nicholas IV (1288) threatened to disrupt the studium at Padua unless the municipal authorities repealed within fifteen days the ordinances they had framed against the masters and scholars. Even the chancellor of Paris, when he demanded of the masters an oath of obedience to himself, was checked by Innocent III (1212), and his powers were greatly reduced by the action of later popes. It became in fact quite common for the university to lay its grievances before the Holy See, and its appeal was usually successful. (4) In many instances, especially in Germany, the endowment of the universities was drawn, largely if not entirely, from the revenues of the monasteries and chapters. More than once the pope intervened to secure the payment of their salaries to the professors, e.g. Boniface VIII (1301) and Clement V (1313) at Salamanca; Clement VI (1346 at Valladolid: and Gregory IX (1236) at Toulouse, where Count Raymond had refused to pay the salaries. The popes also set the example of endowing colleges, and these, founded by kings, bishops, priests, nobles, or private citizens, became not only residential halls for students but also the chief financial support of the university.


The Academic Year

In the earlier period lectures were given throughtout the year, with short recesses at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost and a longer vacation in summer. At Paris this vacation was limited by order of Gregory IX (1261) to one month, but by the end of the fourteenth century it had been extended for the arts faculty from 25 June to 25 Aug., for theology and canon law from 28 June to 15 Sept. The year really began on 1 Oct., and was divided into two periods; the grand ordinary, from 1 Oct. to Easter, and the little ordinary, from Easter to the end of June. At Bologna the vacation began 7 Sept., and the scholastic year opened again on 19 Oct.; this, however, was interrupted for ten days at Christmas, two weeks at Easter, and three weeks at carnival. In Germany, there was considerable difference between the calendars of the various universities and even between those of the faculties at the same university. In general, the year began about the middle of October and closed about the middle of June. But at Cologne, Heidelberg, and Vienna there was a little ordinary from 25 Aug., to 9 Oct. The vacation, however, was not a complete suspension of academic work; the extraordinary lectures, given for the most part by bachelors, were continued, and credit was given to students who attended them. About the middle of the fifteenth century, the division of the year into two semesters, summer and winter, was introduced at Leipzig, and eventually was adopted by the other German universities.


Both the annual calendar and the daily schedule took into account the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary or cursory lectures. This originated at Bologna where certain books of the civil law ("Digestum Vetus" and "Code") were ordinary, while others ("Infortiatum", "Digestum novum", and the smaller textbooks) were extraordinary. In canon law, the ordinary books were the Decretum and the five books of the Decretals (Gregory IX); the extraordinary were the Clementines and Extravagants. Ordinary lectures were reserved to doctors, and were given in the forenoon; extraordinary lectures, known at Paris as cursory, and given by masters or by bachelors, were assigned to the afternoon during the year; in the vacation they might be given at any time of the day, as the ordinary lectures were then suspended. Cursory meant either that the lecture was followed by the cursores, i.e. candidates for the licence, or that it ran rapidly over the subject-matter, whereas the treatment in the ordinary lecture was more thorough.

In all the faculties the work of teaching centred about books, i.e. the texts, compilations, and glosses which were regarded as the chief authorities in each subject. At the beginning of the year (or semester) the books were distributed among the professors, who were obliged to use them in accordance with the regulations established by each faculty regarding the daily schedule, the length of the course, the hall to be used, the academic dress to be worn, and the method to be followed. The lecture was in the strict sense a praelectio (whence the German Vorlesung); the professor had to read the text; in the ordinary lectures, he was not allowed to dictate anything beyond the divisions and conclusions and such corrections of the text as he deemed necessary. The scholars were supposed to have their own copies of the text; if they were too poor to procure the books, the professor might dictate the text to them, not in the regular lecture but at special classes or exercises (repetitions). The plan of the lecture was analytic: careful explanation and definition of terms (ponere et determinare); division of the matter and discussion of the several points followed by a summary of the essential (scindere et summare); presentation of problems suggested by the text (quaestiones), and solution of objections. In lectures on law the reading of the glosses was an important feature, and cases were frequently proposed to illustrate principles. At the ordinary lectures, the scholars were not supposed to ask questions; at the extraordinary, greater freedom was permitted, the scholars being encouraged to express their doubts as to the meaning of the texts and to request further information on obscure matters. More thorough training, however, was given in the resumption and repetitions which the masters held at stated times for the treatment of special problems. The exercises, conducted in dialectical form, afforded full opportunity for discussion between scholar and master; and they served as examinations by which the progress of the scholar was tested. But the most important of the academic exercises was the disputation. This was of two kinds: d. ordinaria and d. de quodlibet. The ordinary disputation took place every week and lasted from morning till noon, or till evening according to the number of participants. On the day set apart for this purposes the lectures and other exercises were suspended, so that all the masters, bachelors, and scholars might be present at the disputation. One of the masters (disputans) announced, in the form of question or thesis, the subject of the debate; other masters (opponentes) presented arguments against the thesis; answers to the arguments were given by two or three bachelors (respondentes) appointed for the occasion. The number of arguments were fixed by statute or was fixed by the dean of the faculty whose duty it was to preside. Throughout the disputation the syllogistic form was employed. The disputation de quodlibet was held only once a year, but with greater solemnity than the ordinary, and over a wider range of topics. The master elected or appointed for the occasion, and known as the quodlibetarius, had to debate a separate question with each of the other masters who chose to enter the lists. The disputation lasted several days, sometimes a fortnight. The arguments and their solutions were written out and preserved in book form. A specimen may be found in the "Quodlibetales" of St. Thomas. It was mainly out of these lectures, repetitions, and disputations that the works of the medieval doctors grew; so that the various commentaries, summae, and books of "sentences" afford the best idea of university teaching both as to content and as to method.

Courses of Study: Degrees

The distribution of the subjects to be studied and of the books to be read in the course was regulated in view of the degrees, i.e. of the various steps (gradus) by which the student advanced from the stage of a simple scholar to that of a master or doctor. The system of degrees developed out of the necessity of restricting the right to teach, and consequently of fixing the qualifications which the teacher should possess. It did not, any more than the university itself, spring suddenly into existence, nor did it everywhere present the same details. Three degrees, however, were generally recognized: baccalaureate, licentiate, and doctorate or mastership. The requirements for these varied at different periods and in different universities; each faculty, moreover, had its own regulations regarding the length of courses and the subjects of study; in particular, there was a rather broad division between the faculty of arts and the superior faculties of theology, medicine, and law. For the courses of study in arts, see ARTS, BACHELOR OF; ARTS, THE FACULTY OF; ARTS, MASTER OF.

In theology, the texts were the Bible and the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard; in law, the books mentioned above; in medicine, the works of Galen, Avicenna, and other writers prescribed for Montpellier by Clement V in 1309. The medical course included also practical work in anatomy, for which the "Anatomia" of Mondino (1275-1237) of Bologna and a similar text by Henri de Mondeville (1260-1320) of Montepllier, served as guides. The student was further required, before graduation, to accompany the professor on the latter's visits to the sick for the purpose of clinical study. For degrees in the higher faculties, see DOCTOR.


The most conspicuous feature of the student body as a whole was its cosmopolitan character. This is evidenced by the division into Nations mentioned above. The University of Bologna owed its origin mainly to associations of foreign students, and among these the Germans enjoyed exceptional privileges. At Paris the English nation was prominent, and Irish scholars were found in the continental universities long before they were expelled from the English universities in 1423. What the total number was at any of the older universities is a debated question. According to Odofredus, Bologna, at the close of the twelfth century, had 10,000; Oxford, according to Richard Fitz Ralph (d. 1360), had at one time 30,000 and in his own day 6,000, while Wyclif (d. 1384) placed the "heroic" number at 60,000, in his own day at 3,000; the earlier accounts gave Paris between 20,000 and 40,000. Recent estimates have reduced these numbers, allowing Paris a maximum 6000-7000, Bologna about the same, Oxford 1500-3000 (Rashdall, op. cit. infra). For the German universities, the numbers are still smaller; in 1380-1389 Prague had 1027, in the second half of the sixteenth century Vienna had 933, in 1450-1479 Cologne had 852, in 1472 Leipzig had 662; while Greifswald in 1465-1478 had only 103 and Freiburg, in 1460-1500, only 143 (Paulsen). In respect of age the differences were considerable. A boy could begin arts at between twelve or fifteen years of age and graduate at twenty or twenty-one. The students of the superior faculties were, of course, older men. Candidates for the doctorate in theology at Paris must have been over thirty; and it was not uncommon for priests who had already spent some time in the ministry, to matriculate at the university; an abbot, a provost, or even a bishop might become a student without any sacrifice of his dignity.

The frequent use of the work clericus or "clerk" to designate a university student, does not imply that every student was an ecclesiastic. At Bologna the distinction was clearly drawn between the scolaris and the clericus; the statutes concerning the rector provide that he must be a scholar of Bologna and, in addition, "an unmarried cleric, wearing the clerical dress and not belonging to any religious order". Similar provisions are found at Florence, Perugia, and Padua. Long before the rise of the universities, clerics enjoyed certain privileges and immunities, and these were extended, when the universities had been established, to all the students, lay and clerical alike. The layman would naturally wear the clerical garb not merely as an academic costume but as an evidence that he was entitled to clerical privileges. Even at Paris and Oxford, where the ecclesiastical element dominated, the enjoyment of these privileges was not dependent on the reception of tonsure, i.e. on admission to the clerical state in the canonical sense (Rashdall, II, 646). Celibacy, however, was obligatory on all scholars and masters; as a rule, a master who married lost his position, and though married scholars are sometimes mentioned, e.g. at Oxford, they were disqualified for taking degrees. Still, celibacy was not universally enforced; there were married professors of medicine at Salerno, and at the university of the Roman Curia, which was under the direct supervision of the pope, the masters of law had their wives and children. One of the famous canonists of Bologna was Joannes Andrea (1270-1328, whose daughter Novella sometimes lectured in his stead. At Paris the obligation of celibacy for masters in medicine was removed by Cardinal Estouteville in 1452, for those in law by the statutes of 1600. The first rector at Greifswald (1456) was married, as was also the rector at Vienna in 1470. In other German universities the requirement of celibacy remained longer in force, owing in part, at least, to the fact that many of the chairs were endowed with the revenue of canonries; but this did not imply that laymen were excluded from university positions.

An important element in the student body and in the entire life of the university was contributed by the religious orders. In Italy they had long been the recognized teachers of theology, and when the faculty of theology was established at Bologna in 1260, they supplied the professors and the majority of the students. The Dominicans settled at Paris in 1217 and at Oxford in 1221; the Franciscans at Paris in 1230 and at Oxford in 1224. At both universities the Carmelites and Augustinians also had their convents. The members of these orders in their community life enjoyed many advantages; a permanent home in which their material needs were provided for, regular hours of study, discipline, and religious practice; and for each order the bond of membership was a source of strength and solidarity. It is not then surprising that the regulars took high rank as scholars and teachers. Of the secular clerks some lived in apartments, others with their masters, and other again, the "martinets", with the townsmen. The students frequently banded together and lived in a rented hall (hospicium) under the management of one of their own number, a bachelor or a master elected by them as principal. For the poorest students colleges were established and endowed with burses by generous founders. Between 1200 and 1500 Paris had six colleges; Oxford, eleven; Cambridge, thirteen. The founders were mostly bishops, canons, or other ecclesiastics; but the laity, including the sovereigns, did their share (see OXFORD, UNIVERSITY OF: I. Origin and History). At Bologna the most famous was the College of Spain founded by Egidio Albornoz, Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo (d. 1367). The colleges at the German universities were primarily for the benefit of the teachers, though scholars also were received. The college residents at Paris were students in arts or theology; they were known as socii (fellows) and were governed by a master, or by several masters if the students belonged to different faculties. The masters were required to hold repetitions on the subjects treated in the university schools and "faithfully to instruct the scholars in life and in doctrine". This tutoring gradually became more important than the university lectures, and attracted to the colleges large numbers of students besides the holders of burses or scholarships; by the middle of the fifteenth century almost the whole university resided in the colleges, and the public lecture halls served only for determination and inceptions. In this way the Sorbonne, originaly a hospice for poor clerks, became the centre of theological teaching at Paris. The university, however, claimed and exercised the right of visitation and of disciplinary enactments; in 1457 it obliged the martinets to live in or near some college, and forbade the migration of scholars from one master's home to another; and in 1486 it enacted that teachers in colleges should be appointed by the faculty of arts.

With the founding of the colleges, discipline improved. The earlier university regulations dealt chiefly with academic matters, leaving the students quite free in other respects. According to all accounts this freedom meant licence in various forms - fighting, drinking, and graver offences against morality. With due allowance for the exaggeration of some writers who charge the scholars with every crime, it is clear from the college statutes that there was much need of reform. It should, however, be remembered that in any age the boisterous and lawless elements are more conspicuous than the serious, conscientious student; and it is doubtless to the credit of the medieval university, as a social factor, that it succeeded in imposing some sort of discipline upon the motley throngs which it undertook to teach. When the reform did come, it fairly rivalled, in minuteness and strictness, the monastic way of life. But it did not prevent the survival of certain practices, e.g. the initiation or deposition of the bejaunus (yellow-bill), the medieval form of hazing; nor did it establish perfect tranquility in the university.

Agitations of a more serious nature affected the development of the universities. Both Paris (1252-1261) and Oxford (1303-1320) were embroiled in struggles with the mendicant friars. Repeated conflicts with the town, notably the "Slaughter" of 1354 at Oxford, turned eventually to the benefit of the university, which, as Rashdall says (II, 407) "thrived on her own misfortunes". It was the chancellor who profited most and whose jurisdiction was gradually extended until, in 1290, it included "all crimes committed in Oxford where one of the parties was a scholar, except pleas of homicide and mayhem" (Rashdall, II, 401). In 1395, a Bull of Boniface IX exempted the university from all episcopal and archiepiscopal jurisdiction; but in consequence of the archbishop's opposition the Bull was revoked by John XXIII in 1311, only to be renewed by Sixtus IV in 1479. The conflict between Nominalism and Realism was in itself a scholastic feud; yet it was closely connected with the "reform" inaugurated by Wyclif; and while Wyclif may be regarded as a champion of intellectual freedom, it is interesting to note among his errors condemned at Constance (1415) and by Martin V (1418), the proposition that "universities with their studies, colleges, graduations, and masterships, were introduced by vain heathenism; they do the Church just as much good as the devil does" (Denzinger-Bannwart, "Enchiridion", n. 609).

In the calmer appreciation of modern historians the medieval university was a potent factor for enlightenment and social order. It aroused enthusiasm for learning, and enforced discipline. Its training sharpened the intelligence, yet subjected reason to faith. It was the centre in which the philosophy and the jurisprudence of antiquity were restored and adapted to new requirements. From it the modern university has inherited the essential elements of corproate teaching, faculty organization, courses of study, and academic degrees; and the inheritance has been transmitted through the manifold upheavals which submerged the ancient learning and rent Christendom itself asunder.


The effect of the "new learning" on the German universities was revolutionary. At first the Humanist professors got on fairly well with the rest of the faculty; but when they asserted their superiority as representatives of the only real knowledge, bitter attacks and recriminations ensued. the Humanists ridiculed the barbarous Latin of the university and the wretched translations of Aristotle used in commentaries and lectures. Then they assailed the Scholastic method of teaching with its endless hair-splitting and disputations, and strove to substitute rhetoric for dialectic. Finally they struck at the content itself, declaring that much time was spent in gaining very little knowledge of hardly any value. All the charges were drawn up in publications marked by brilliant style and sharp invective; e.g. the "Epistolae obscurorum virorum", written against the professors of arts and theology, especially those of Leipzig and Cologne. This violent satire contained much that was false or exaggerated, and therefore calculated rather to add new disturbance than to effect the reform which was really needed. The better days of Scholasticism, in fact, had passed; the universities had no longer such leaders of thought as the thirteenth century had produced; both studies and discipline were on the decline. Humanism triumphed, in the first place, because, as a reaction and a novelty, it appealed to the younger men who were anxious to be free from the dryness of Scholastic exercises and the restrictions imposed by college statutes. Their unruly conduct and their ceaseless brawls with the townsfolk afforded the princes and the city authorities a pretext to undertake university reforms; and the reforming was accomplished by placing the Humanists in control. These conflicts and remedial measures, however, were only the surface of a much deeper movement. Before it asserted itself in the universities, Humanism had won over the higher and more influential classes of the people by catering, in the form of literature, to the spirit of luxury which the growth and increasing wealth of the cities had engendered. There was no doubt a charm in the elegant diction of the Humanists; but their attractive force lay in the rehabilitation of those views and ideals of life which the naturalism of the pagan world had expressed in perfect form and which brought men back to themselves and to earth. Aristotle had triumphed in the thirteenth century; he was overcome in the fifteenth by the orators and poets.

The Renaissance, originating in Italy, had thence spread to the northern countries. Its introduction into the universities of Italy and France did not lead to revolt against the Church; the popes were its patrons, and many distinguished Humanists remained loyal to Catholicism. In Germany and England, on the contrary, the Renaissance coalesced with another movement which had far more serious consequences. Luther, though not in sympathy with Humanism, was bent on sweeping away Scholastic theology by returning, as he claimed, to the pure teaching of the Gospel; and he would have made an end to the universities, which he denounced as the devil's workshops. The violent theological discussions aroused by the reform doctrine had a disastrous effect, not only on Humanism but also on the life of the universities. Some of them closed their doors, and nearly all were in danger of dissolution for want of students. Melanchthon declared that philosophy was the worship of idols and that the only knowledge necessary for a Christian was to be obtained from the Bible. But the reformers soon realized that their cause could not dispense with the higher education; and it was Melanchthon himself who reformed the existing universities and organized the new, i.e. Protestant, foundations, Marburg (1527), Königsberg (1544), Helmstadt (1574). The endowment was supplied chiefly from the revenues of confiscated monasteries and other church properties; Classic philology and the new theology took the place of Scholasticism; and the universities became state institutions under the control of secular princes.

As a result, the universities lost in great part their international character. In place of the medieval studium generale, there arose a multitude of institutions each limited to its own territory and devoted to the creed of its founders. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centureis, the traditional organization was preserved; but Classical culture was on the wane, and there was little progress in other lines. "At the end of the seventeenth century the German universities had sunk to the lowest level which they ever reached in the public esteem and in their influence upon the intellectual life of the German people . . . Academic science was no longer in touch with reality and its controlling ideas; it was held fast in an obsolete system of instruction by organization and statutes and toilsome compliance was the sole result of its activity. Added to this was the prevailing coarseness of the entire life. The students had sunk to the lowest depths, and carousals and brawls, carried to the limits of brutality and bestiality, largely filled their days" (Paulsen, "The German Universities", p.42).

When Erasmus came to England in 1497, Classical studies imported from Italy were already cultivated at Oxford by men like Colet, Groeyn, Lynacre, and Sir Thomas More. In 1516, Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, endowed the first lectureship in Greek and founded Corpus Christi College. In 1525, Wolsey founded Cardinal College and engaged eminent teachers to "cultivate the new literature in the service of the old Church" (Huber). But his princely designs were checked by the question of Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. At Cambridge also the Renaissance movement was furthered by the teaching of Erasmus and the exertions of Bishop Fisher; but at the same time the writings of Luther were being studies by a group of scholars under Tyndale and Latimer, and it was Cranmer, then a fellow of Jesus College, who suggested that the legality of Henry's marriage should be referred to the universities of Christendom. After some opposition both Oxford and Cambridge gave an opinion favourable to the king; and finally they declared for the separation from Rome which was consummated by the Act of 1534. By the Royal Injunctions of 1535, the teaching of canon law and of the Sentences was abolished; Aristotle, however, was retained, and the study of civil law, Hebrew, mathematics, logic, and medicine was encouraged. The spoliation of the monasteries, which had sheltered many of the poorer scholars, reduced the numbers at the universities. In 1549 a royal visitation eliminated from the statutes every trace of popery, and abolished numerous stipends that had formerly been given for Masses. In a spirit of iconoclasm, altars, images, and statutes were torn from the college chapels, and many valuable manuscripts of the libraries were burned. Under Mary's brief rule the Protestants in turn suffered; Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer perished at the stake at Oxford, and the anti-Catholic statutes were repealed. During Elizabeth's reign and Leicester's chancellorship, every Oxford student above sixteen years of age was obliged at matriculation to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Royal Supremacy, a measure which made the university an exclusively Church of England institution. At Cambridge a royal mandate in 1613 required all candidates for B.D. or for the doctorate in any faculty to subscribe to the Three Articles. In both universities, Puritanism was a disturbing element, and a number of its adherents were obliged to withdraw from Cambridge. In 1570 the Elizabethan statutes were enacted "on account of the again increasing audacity and excessive licence of men" as the preamble declares. These new regulations circumscribed the powers of the proctors and provided that they should be elected, not as formerly, by the regents, but according to a cycle of colleges. The Elizabethan code remained in force for nearly three centuries. Under Charles I similar provisions were made for Oxford byt he Laudian statutes (1636), and the whole administration of the university was entrusted to the vice-chancellor, the proctors, and the heads of colleges. "This statute effectually stereotyped the administrative monopoly of the colleges, and destroyed all trace of the old democratic constitution which had been controlled only by the authority of the medieval Church" (Brodrick). Oxford was governed by this code until 1854.

In Scotland, after the abolition of papal jurisdiction and ratification of Protestant doctrine in 1560, the universities suffered severely. "To St. Andrews, as to the other universities, the Reformation did serious injury. Their constitution and orgnization were upset by ecclesiastical dissent; their income was sadly reduced by the rapacity of the nobles who appropriated the lion's share of the patrimony of the Church. From a greatly diminished income they had to uphold the stipends of the parishes which belonged to them. This was necessarily accompanied by a reduction of the salaries of the professors, for which certain grants by successive administrations made small but inadequate amends. The attendance of students was also injuriously affected" (Kerr, p. 108). Though various schemes of reform were proposed, especially by Knox, they proved ineffectual owing to the tumults about religion and the alternations between presbytery and episcopacy. The universities became institutions of the state in 1690 and religious tests were enforced for all teachers and officials. Curricula and organizations, however, retained for a long time their medieval features. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, various modifications were introduced in the courses of study; new chairs were founded and the financial condition improved.

At Paris this period witnessed the long struggle between the university and the Jesuits (see SOCIETY OF JESUS: History; France), the inroads of Gallicanism and Jansenism, and the substitution of royal for papal supremacy. As far back as 1475, Charles VII had placed the university under the jurisdiction of the Parlement; by the end of the sixteenth century the secularization was complete. If Richelieu, by rebuilding the Sorbonne, and Mazarin, by establishing the Collège des Quatre-Nations, enhanced the outward spendour of the university, they did not endow it with vitality sufficient to check the new philosophical movement which culminated in the work of the Encyclopedists and the Revolution. In 1793 the university was suppressed and with it all the other universities of France. Napoleon I reorganized them as faculties under the one imperial university situated at Paris; and this arrangement continued until, in 1896, the faculties were restored to university rank.


In Germany, the eighteenth century brought decided changes which some authors (Paulsen) regard as the origin of the modern university. From Halle, founded in 1694, Christian Wolff's rationalistic philosophy spread to all the Protestant universities, and from Göttingen (1737) the new Humanism, especially the study of Greek. Freedom of research became the characteristic feature of the university; the systematic lecture replaced the exposition of texts; the seminar exercises supplanted the disputation; and German was used instead of Latin as the vehicle of instruction. The foundation of the University of Berlin (1800) was another advance in the way of free scientific culture. Philosophy became the leading subject of study. Next in importance was philology, Classical Romance, and German. The development of the historical method and its application in all lines of research are among the principal achievements of the nineteenth century. In the natural sciences laboratory training was recognized as indispensable, and the study of medicine was put on a new basis by improved methods of investigation. Specialized reasearch with producting scholarship, rather than accumulation of knowledge, was held up as the aim of university work. As a result the departments of science multiplied and in each the number of courses rapidly increased. This was the case especially in the faculty of philosophy, which came to include practically everything that did not belong to theology, medicine, or law. The B.A. degree disappeared, the M.A. was merged with the doctorate in philosophy, and this had its chief significance as a requisite for teaching. Great importance was attached to the preparation of teachers for the schools and gymnasia, while in the university itself, the recruiting of professors was provided for by the system of Privatdozents, i.e. instructors who have the privilege of teaching but no official duties or salaries. These instructors often teach at various universities before being promoted to a professorship, and thus acquire a wide experience as well as an acquaintance with conditions in different parts of the empire. The students also are encouraged to pass from one university to another. They no longer live in colleges, nor are they exempt from municipal control and military service. Most of them, however, are members of some Verein or Verbindung which develops the social spirit, though it often encourages duelling, drinking, and other practices hardly conducive to moral or intellectual advance.

In England and Scotland the nineteenth century was marked by numerous and far-reaching changes. A succession of statutes revised the system of examinations and degrees: religious tests were abolished at the English universities in 1871, at the Scottish in 1892; many of the traditional oaths disappeared, and the restrictions imposed by the Elizabethan code were in large part removed. The tendency of legislation (Acts of 1854, 1856, 1877) was in line with the reforms advocated by the Royal Commission in 1852, i.e. "the restoration in its integrity of the ancient supervision of the university over the studies of its members by the enlargement of its professorial system, by the addition of such supplementary appliance to that system as may obviate the undue encroachments of that of private tuition . . . the removal of all restriction upon elections to fellowships and scholarships . . . an adequate contribution from the corporate funds of the several colleges towards rendering the course of public teaching, as carried on by the university itself, more efficient and complete". This movement toward a revival of the authority of the university has been furthered by Lord Curzon in his "Principles and Methods of University Reform" (1909). The monopoly of higher education so long enjoyed by Oxford and Cambridge was broken by the creation of new universities; Durham was established in 1832, and the University of London, founded in 1825 and chartered as an examining and degree-conferring institution in 1838, was reorganized on a broader basis in 1889. The university extension movement, inaugurated at Cambridge in 1867, was taken up by Oxford also. Women were admitted to examinations and degrees at London in 1878, Cambridge in 1881, and Oxford in 1884. The Scottish universities were remodelled in 1858 and in 1889; the system of studies and degrees was reorganized and greater uniformity in government was secured. At Aberdeen and Glasgow, however, the rector is still elected by the matriculated students, who are divided into four nations as in the Middle Ages. Women were admitted as students in 1892.

For the earliest foundations in America see UNIVERSITIES, SPANISH-AMERICAN. In the United States the oldest universities grew out of colleges modelled on those of England; Harvard (1636), Yale (1701), Princeton (1726), Washington and Lee (1749), University of Pennsylvania (1751), King's, i.e. Columbia (1754), Brown (1764). The first step towards university instruction was the addition of graduate studies pursued by resident students (mentioned at Harvard towards the end of the eighteenth century). During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, American students began to study in Germany and they naturally, on returning to their own country, sought to introduce elements from the German universities. It was not, however, until 1861 that the doctorate in philosophy was conferred (Yale); since that time, the universities have developed rapidly but not according to any uniform plan of organization. In all these institutions there is a combination of graduate with undergraduate study, and in many of them departments of pure science exist alongside of professional schools; but it would be impossible to select any one of them as the typical American university, and difficult to group them on any purely educational basis. This diversity is largely owing to the fact that the American institutions, especially the more recent, have been organized to meet actual needs rather than to perpetuate traditions; and since these needs are constantly changing, it is quite intelligible that new forms of university organization should appear and that the older forms should be frequently readjusted. Apart, however, from details, what may be called the university situation presents certain features that are noteworthy.

(1) The oldest universities were established and endowed by private individuals, and they have retained their private character. Even where the states have organized universities of their own, no measures have been taken to prevent private foundations; the latter in fact are as a class more influential than those controlled by the State, and, on the other hand, the private universities are empowered to give degrees through charters granted by the State. This freedom is far more in accordance with the spirit of American institutions and more essential to the national welfare than any hard and fast uniformity under state domination.

(2) From the beginning, as the oldest charters explicitly declare, the furthering of morality and religion, not merely in a general way, but in accordance with the belief of some Christian denomination, was an avowed purpose of the founders; and divinity schools are still maintained at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. But the state universities and nearly all the more recently founded private universities exclude theology. There is a decided tendency with powerful financial support to make the university non-sectarian by elmininating all religious tests and removing denominational influence.

(3) Besides the state appropriations, vast sums of money are contributed by individuals to the endowment of universities and the establishment of instituties for scientific research. Such liberality is an evidence of the practical interest taken in education, which is considered as the best means of improving moral, social, and economic conditions. Whether the final result will be the application of a money test in deciding what is and is not a university, must depend largely on the standards of scholarship which are adopted and the idea of its functions as a social power that is formed by the institution to which so much wealth is entrusted.

(4) The practical character of university training is shown by the attention that is paid to technical instruction in all its forms. The preference for applied science manifested by many students has a serious effect not only on university policies and curricula but also on the work of secondary and elementary schools, in which the relative value of cultural and vocational studies is keenly debated.

(5) As the efficiency of the university is in part determined by the quality and extent of the student's previous education, one of the chief problems demanding solution at present is the relation between the university and the preparatory schools. In the endeavour to secure satisfactory relations between college, high school, and elementary school, the university exerts an inflence which becomes more permeating as the educational system is more thorougly articulated. The entire question of adjustment will probably be settled not so much by discussion or legislation as by the training of teachers, which now holds a prominent place in each of the larger universities.

(6) Although women have long formed the majority of teachers in elementary and public schools, they were not admitted to the universities until about the middle of the nineteenth century. The co-educational movement began in the state universities of the West, received a fresh impetus at the University of Michigan in 1870, and then spread rapidly through the East. In some universities all departments of insturction are now open to women on the same footing as men; in others, women are excluded from the courses in law, medicine, and engineering, and receive separate instruction in affiliated colleges.

(7) Within recent years, university extension, correspondence courses, and local examinations have enabled the university to widen out its sphere of activity. It might seem indeed that the centripetal movement which in the Middle Ages brought students from all parts to the studium generale, were now to be reversed or at least to be reflected in the opposite direction.


The universities of France, Italy, and Spain, though affected to some extent by the Reformation, had remained loyal to the Catholic Faith, and preserved their chairs of ecclesiastical science. Louvain especially, while it developed Humanistic sciences to a high degree, resisted the encroachments of Protestantism. The Council of Trent ordained that provision should be made for the study of Scripture, that beneficed studying at universities should enjoy their traditional privileges, that bishops and other dignitaries should be selected by preference from among university professors and graduates (Sess. V, can. i; VII, xiii; XIV, v; XXII, ii; XXIII, vi; XXIV, viii, xii, xvi, xvii). It also provided for the education of priests by its decrees regarding the establishment of ecclesiastical seminaries. (See SEMINARIES, ECCLESIASTICAL.) But the Church did not lose interest in the universities or desist from establishing new ones. In spite of the loss of revenue from the confiscation of church properties, Catholic universities or academies were founded at Dillingen (1549), Würzburg (1575), Paderborn (1613), Salzburg (1623), Osnabruck (1630), Bamberg (1648), Olmutz (1581), Graz (1586), Linz (1636), Innsbruck (1672), Breslau (1702), Fulda (1732), Münster, (1771). To this period also belong the French universities at Douai (1559), Lille (1560), Pont-a-Mousson, later Nancy (1572), and Dijon (1722); the Italian at Macerata (1540), Cagliari (1603), and Camerino (1721); the Spanish at Granada (1526) and Oviedo (1574); Manila in the Philippines (1611), and the South American foundations (see UNIVERSITIES, SPANISH-AMERICAN). Most of these new universities were entrusted to the Jesuits, whose colleges in regard to Classical studies rivalled, and in matters of discipline, surpassed the universities. After the suppression of the Society (1773), the chairs which they had held were either abolished or transferred to secular professors. Among the papal documents bearing on universities should be mentioned: the Constitution, "Imperscrutabilis", addressed by Clement XII (4 Dec., 1730) to Philip V of Spain regarding the University of Cervera; the "Quod divina sapientia", published, 28 Aug., 1824, by Leo XII for the reformation of university studies in the Papal States and some other provinces of Italy; the Brief by which Gregory XVI, 13 Dec., 1833, approved the action of the Belgian bishops in restoring the University of Louvain; and the Apostolic Letter of Pius IX, 23 March, 1852, approving the statutes of the University of Dublin, the founding of which had been decided upon by the Irish episcopate at the Council of Thurles in 1850.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century the Spanish and Italian universities were taken over by the State, and the faculties of theology disappeared. In France, under the present system, there is no faculty of theology in any state university; the Catholic faculties at Paris, Bordeaux, Aix, Rouen, and Lyons were abolished in 1882, and the Protestant faculties at Pais and Montaubon became free theological schools in 1905. In 1875, however, the French bishops established independent Catholic universities or institutes at Angers, Lille, Lyons, Paris, and Toulouse. In Germany, though all universities are state institutions, there are Catholic faculties of theology at Bonn, Breslau, Freiburg, Munich, Münster, Strasburg, Tübingen, and Würzburg. The professors are appointed and paid by the State, but they must be approved by the bishop, who also has the right to superintend the teaching. The Austrian universities, though injured in the eighteenth century by Jansenism and modified in the nineteenth by various reforms, have still retianed the teaching of theology in the faculties of Graz, Innsbruck, Cracow, Lemberg, Prague, Olmutz, Salzburg, and Vienna; and in Hungary at Agram and Budapest. It should be noted, however, that in Germany and Austria the existence of a faculty of Catholic theology does not make the whole university Catholic; the other faculties may include members who profess no creed. This situation naturally gives rise to difficulties for Catholic students, especially in philosophy and history. In countries where a larger freedom is enjoyed, the Holy See has encouraged new foundations. Pius IX gave a charger to Laval, Canada (1876); Leo XIII to Beirut, Syria (1881), and to Ottowa, Canada (1889). The University of Fribourg, Switzerland, established in 1889, was warmly approved by Leo XIII. The project of founding a Catholic university in the United States was suggested at the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866; its execution was resolved on at the Third Plenary Council in 1884, and the statutes of the Catholic University of America were approved by Leo XIII in the Apostolic Letter of 7 March, 1889.

Present Law of the Church

The principal laws now in force regarding universities are as follows:

  • For the establishment of a complete Catholic university, including the faculties of theology and canon law, the authorization of the pope is necessary; and this alone suffices if the foundation is made with ecclesiastical funds or private endowment. If public funds of the state are also used for the purpose, authorization must likewise be obtained from the civil power. The Church, moreover, recognizes the right of the State, or corporations or individuals under control of the State, to establish purely secular facilites, e.g. of law or medicine (Clement XII, Const. "Imperscrutabilis", 1730).

  • The Church requires that in universities founded by the civil power for Catholics, the faculties of theology and canon law, once they are canonically established, shall remain subject to the supreme ecclesiastical authority, and moreover, that professors in the other faculties shall be Catholic and that their teaching shall accord with Catholic doctrine and sound moral principles.

  • As appears from recent papal charters, the university enjoys autonomy e.g. in the appointment of instructors, the regulation of studies, and the conferring of degrees in accordance with the statutes.

  • By the Constitution "Sapienti Consilio", 29 June, 1908, the Congregation of Studies is charged with all questions regarding the establishment of new Catholic universities and important changes in those already founded.

  • Degrees in theology and canon law conferred without examination by the Holy See through the Congregation of Studies, give the recipient the same rights and privileges as the degrees conferred after examination by a Catholic university (Cong. Stud., 19 Dec., 1903; Roviano, "De Jure ecclesiae in universitatibus studiorum", Louvain, 1864; Wernz, "Jus Decretalium", III, Rome, 1901).

General Works.-MEINERS, Gesch. der Entstehung u. Entwicklund der hohen Schulen (Gottingen, 1802-05); VON SAVIGNY, Gesch. des rom. Rechts im Mittelalter (2nd ed., Heidelberg, 1834-); NEWMAN, Idea of a University (London, 1852); IDEM, Historical Sketches, III (London, 1872); DRANE, Christian Schools and Scholars (2nd ed., London, 1881); DENIFLE, Die Universitaten des Mittelalters bis 1400 (1 vol., Berlin, 1885); KAUFMANN, Gesch. der deutsch. Universitaten, I (Stuttgart, 1888); HINSCHIUS, System des kathol. Kirchenrechts, IV (Berlin, 1888); RASHDALL, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1895); LAURIE, Rise and Early Constitution of Universities (New York, 1898); NORTON, Readings in the History of Education: Medieval Universities (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1909); WALSH, The Thirteenth the greatest of Centuries (New York, 1910).

Special.-France: Chartularium Univ. Paris., ed. DENIFLE and CHATELAIN (Paris, 1889-97); FOURNIER, Les statuts et privileges des universites francaises (Paris, 1890-94); DU BOULAY, Hist. Univ. Paris (Paris, 1865); JOURDAIN, Hist. de l'universitate de Paris au XXVII siecle (Paris, 1894-). Germany: ERMAN and HORN, Bibliographie der deutsch. Universitaten (3 vols., Leipzig, 1904); ZARNCKE, Die deutsch. Universitaten (Berlin, 1893); PAULSEN, Grundung. . .der deutsch. Universitaten im Mittelalter in VON STREL, Histor. Zeitschr. (1881); IDEM, Gesch. des gelehrten Unterrichts (2nd ed. Leipzig, 1896-7); IDEM, tr. THILLY, The German Universities (New York, 1906); VON SYREL, Die deutsch. u. die auswartigen Universitaten (3rd ed., Bonn, 1883); KAUFMANN, Op. cit., II (Stuttgart, 1896). Great Britain: HURER, tr. F.W. NEWMAN, The English Universities (London, 1843); Munimenta Academica, ed. ANSTEY (London, 1868); Wood, ed. GUTCH, History and Antiquities. . .of Oxford (Oxford, 1792-96); LYTE, Hist. of the Univ. of Oxford (London, 1886); BRODRICK, A Hist. of the Univ. of Oxford (London, 1900); FULLER, Hist. of the Univ. of Cambridge (1655), ed. PRICKETT and WRIGHT (Cambridge, 1840); MULLINGER, Hist. of the Univ. of Cambridge (Cambridge, 1873-1911); Report of Commissioners to visit the Universities of Scotland (London, 1831); KERR, Scottish Education (Cambridge, 1910); WILLIAMS, The Law of the Universities (London, 1910). Italy: MURATORI, Antiquitates Italicae, III; TIRABOSCHI, Storia della letteratura italiana (Milan, 1822); see also bibliography under BOLOGNA, UNIVERSITY OF. Spain: DE LA FUENTE, Hist. de las Universidades. . .en Espana (Madrid, 1884-1889). America: ROSS, The Universities of Canada, Appendix to Report of the Minister of Education (Toronto, 1896); Report of the Commissioner of Education (Washington, D.C.), an annual publication; ZIMMERMANN, Die Universitaten in dem Vereinigten Staaten Amerikas (Freiburg, 1896); PERRY, The American University in Monographs on Education in the U.S., ed. BUTLER (Albany, 1900); S. DEXTER, A Hist. of Education in the U.S. (New York, 1904); DRAPER, American Education (New York, 1909).

Information regarding all the universities of the world is given in Minerva (Strasburg), of which the Handbuch (vol. I, 1911) describes the organization, and the Jahrbuch, now in the twentieth year, contains annual announcements of courses, equipment, and statistics.


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