University of Paris

The mediaeval University of Paris (French: Université de Paris) was founded in the second part of the twelfth century. Still, in 1970 it was restructured into 13 independent universities (University of Paris I–XIII). The University is commonly referred to as the Sorbonne or La Sorbonne after the college institution (Collège de Sorbonne) founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon. Still, the University was older and never concentrated on the Sorbonne. Four of the thirteen successor institutions are in the old Sorbonne building, and three of their titles incorporate “Sorbonne.”

Arts, Medicine, Law, and Theology, were the initial faculty of the institution. The pupils were separated into four nations based on their native language or geographic origin. This faculty and nation structure of the University of Paris (together with that of the University of Bologna) set the basis for all subsequent mediaeval European institutions. In addition to its remarkable teaching, the University of Paris played a significant part in France’s religious and political affairs.

Nevertheless, the French Revolution swept away the historic University of Paris and the Ancient Régime, becoming a component of the University of France. Reestablished in 1886 without a faculty of theology and with the inclusion of other faculties such as science, the University became secular by shedding its theological faculty and gaining new faculties such as science. In the middle of the twentieth century, however, it reemerged as a leading academic centre in France and all of Europe.

After the 1968 demonstrations, in which the University of Paris played a key role, the French higher education system was once again overhauled, and the University of Paris was divided into 13 institutions. Consequently, despite their historical linkages and some administrative tasks of the Académie of Paris with offices at the Sorbonne, no academic University of Paris structure now unites the universities. Nonetheless, the ideal of the University of Paris, the prototype of many prestigious universities and the historical epicentre of intellectual progress, continues to inspire and instruct people. Although reforms, such as those inspired by the French Revolution, have frequently been required throughout history to eliminate corrupt and obsolete institutions, the knowledge and spirit of their founders are often of everlasting importance to humanity.

History of establishment of University of Paris

Unlike later institutions (such as the University of Prague or the University of Heidelberg), the University of Paris was not created until a formal founding act was passed (such as a royal charter or papal bull). In the late twelfth century, the University developed around Notre Dame Cathedral as a corporation comparable to other mediaeval companies, such as guilds of merchants or artisans. In reality, the mediaeval Latin term Universitas referred to a guild. The University of Paris was referred to as an Universitas magistrorum et scholarium (a guild of masters and scholars).

The University had four faculties: Arts, Medicine, Law, and Theology. Students were required to graduate from the Faculty of Arts before being allowed to one of the higher faculties, making it the biggest and lowest-ranking faculty. According to linguistic or geographical origin, the pupils were separated into four nations: France, Normandy, Picard, and England. The latter became known as the Alemannian (German) nation. The English-German nation recruited students from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, contrary to what the titles may suggest. The faculty and nation structure of the University of Paris, together with that of the University of Bologna, served as a template for all subsequent mediaeval institutions.

The first institutions

The palatine or palace school, Notre Dame’s school, and Sainte-w Geneviève are Paris’s three most renowned schools. The collapse of royalty brought about the inevitable decline of the first. During the early years of their existence, the other two, which were quite old and included those of the cathedrals and abbeys, were just sketched out. Undoubtedly, the prestige of the Palatine school surpassed theirs until, over time, it was entirely supplanted by them.

Hubold, who flourished in the tenth century, was the first eminent professor at the school of Ste-Geneviève. Not satisfied with the courses at Liège, he completed his education in Paris, joined or affiliated with the chapter of Ste-Geneviève, and drew many students via his instruction. In the eleventh century, notable instructors from Notre Dame included Lambert, a pupil of Filbert of Chartres, Drogo of Paris, Manegold of Germany, and Anselm of Laon. Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanów, Bishop of Kraków; Gebbard, Archbishop of Salzburg; Saint Stephen, third Abbot of Citeaux; and Robert d’Arbrissel, Founder of the Abbey of Fontevrault were among the great persons educated at these two institutions. William of Champeaux, Peter Abelard, and Peter Lombard were three more persons who contributed to the prestige of Notre-Dame and Ste-Geneviève.

The school of Saint-Victor eventually surpassed Notre-Dame and Sainte-Geneviève. William of Champeaux erected it when he retreated to the Abbey of St-Victor. Hugh and Richard of St-Victor are the University’s most renowned instructors.

Historically, education included grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, mathematics, geometry, music, and astronomy (trivium and quadrivium). Dogmatic and moral theology, whose foundations were the Scriptures and the Fathers, and the study of canon law comprised the higher education. The curriculum increased in Paris’s schools, as it did everywhere. The Decretum Gratiani, a Bolognese compilation of canon law, precipitated the split of the theology department.

Previously, the discipline of the Church and so-called theology were not distinct; the same professor taught both. However, this voluminous collection demanded a unique course, which was done first in Bologna, where Roman law was taught. First, Orléans and, subsequently, Paris established chairs of canon law in France. The Decretals of Gerard (or Girard) La Pucelle, Mathieu d’Angers, and Anselm (or Ansell) of Paris were added to the Decretum Gratiani before the end of the twelfth century. However, civil law was absent from Paris.

During the twelfth century, medicine was also taught publicly in Paris; Hugo is recorded as the city’s first professor of medicine.

Professorship required two things: expertise and appointment. Knowledge was demonstrated by examination, and the appointment was made by the examiner, who was the head of the school and was referred to as scholastics, capitol, and finally “chancellor.” This assignment was known as the teaching licence. The licence had to be given without charge, and no one could teach without it; conversely, it could not be denied if the petitioner merited it.

The licence was granted by the School of St-Victor, which shared the responsibilities and immunities of the abbey; the schools of Notre Dame and Ste-Geneviève depended on the diocese and the abbey or chapter, respectively. Through their chancellors, the diocese and abbey or chapter conferred professorial investiture in their respective domains of authority.

Several schools were located on the “Island” and the “Mount” in addition to Notre-Dame, Ste-Geneviève, and St-Victor. “Whoever having the right to teach might start a school wherever he chose, so long as it was not in the proximity of a primary school,” according to Crevier. Thus, an Englishman named Adam lived “near the Petit Pont,” while a Parisian named Adam taught at the Grand Bridge, also known as the Pont-au-Change (Tuilier, 1997 vol. I, 272).

The number of students in the capital city school rose steadily, and finally, the available housing became inadequate. Among the French pupils were:

Princes, Sons of the aristocracy, They are the most renowned young people in the nation.

Numerous foreigners attended the courses in Paris because they were considered essential for academic fulfilment. Alexander III sent his nephews to Paris, where Popes Celestine II, Adrian IV, and Innocent III studied. Otto of Freising, Cardinal Conrad, Archbishop of Mainz, St. Thomas of Canterbury, and John of Salisbury were among the illustrious German and British pupils. At the same time, Ste-Geneviève became the seminary for Denmark. The contemporary chroniclers consider Paris the city of letters par excellence, ranking it above Athens, Alexandria, and Rome, among others. Poets compared the subject of their poetry to all that was greatest, most noble, and most precious in the universe.

The three schools of Notre-Dame, Ste-Geneviève, and St-Victor may be considered the triple birthplace of the Universitas scholarium, which consisted of masters and students; therefore, the name University.

Structure in the thirteenth century

In 1200, King Philip II issued a decree “for the security of the scholars of Paris” that subjected the students to exclusively church law. It was unlawful for the provost and other authorities to arrest a student for any violation unless it was to hand the offender to religious authority. The king’s officers could never touch the head of the schools without a decree from ecclesiastical authority.

In 1215, the laws of the Apostolic legate Robert de Courson addressed three major aspects of the moral and intellectual component of university education: the circumstances of the professorate, the subject matter to be covered, and the awarding of a licence. To teach the arts, one needed to be at least 21 years old, to have studied them for at least six years, and to have served as a professor for at least two years.

A candidate for a theology chair was required to be thirty years old and to have completed eight years of theological study, with the final three years devoted to specific lecture courses in preparation for the master’s degree. Finally, moral rectitude was as vital as literacy. The disciplines taught in the arts course included Priscian’s “Grammar,” Aristotle’s “Dialectics,” mathematics, astronomy, music, some rhetoric and philosophy, and the Ethics of the Stagyrite and the fourth book of the Topics. According to custom, the licence was issued gratis, without oath or condition, and so was teaching.

Nevertheless, it was frequently essential to deviate from the norm. Consequently, the pope permitted Pierre Le Mangeur to charge a modest price for granting the authorization. Similar costs were required for a bachelor’s degree in the arts and letters.

In 1229, a denial of justice by the queen resulted in the suspension of classes at the University of Paris, known as the 1229 strike. Gregory IX opened his intervention with profuse praise for the University: “Paris, mother of the sciences, is another Cariath-Sepher, metropolis of books.” He compared it to a laboratory where wisdom examined the metals she discovered: gold and silver to decorate the Spouse of Jesus Christ and iron to forge the spiritual weapon that would defeat hostile forces. He delegated the Bishops of Le Mans and Senlis and the Archdeacon of Chalons to negotiate with the French Court for the University’s restoration.

Gregory IX took direct control of the situation by issuing a Bull to the Parisian masters and academics in 1231 after the year 1230 ended without any resolution. In addition to settling the dispute and providing assurances for the future, he granted the University the authority to enact statutes regarding the discipline of the schools, the method of instruction, the defence of theses, the attire of professors, and the funerals of masters and students (expanding upon Robert de Courcon’s statutes). Importantly, the pope acknowledged or allowed the institution the authority to cease its courses if it were denied justice until it had satisfaction.

Consequently, the University of Paris, which served as a model for other universities, attained its fundamental shape. It consisted of seven groupings, including the four countries of the college of arts and the three advanced faculties of theology, law, and medicine. In the diploma he issued to the Carthusians for their founding near Paris, St. Louis refers to this city, where “flow the most plentiful rivers of pure theology so that they constitute a large river that, after refreshing the city itself, irrigates the Universal Church.

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