University of Paris

University Information, Campus and History
(Paris, France)

The historic University of Paris (Université de Paris) is still one of the most prestigious and respected universities in the world, having produced a number of Nobel Prize winners both form its student body and faculty. Founded in the 12th century, its roots were far from ordinary. Unlike younger universities such as the University of Heidelberg or the University of Prague, the University of Paris was not established through a conventional papal bull or royal charter. It actually started as a corporation around the Notre Dame Cathedral, much like the medieval corporations of artisans and merchants. In its earliest years, it was referred to as 'universitas magistrorum et scholarium,' meaning, 'guild of masters and scholars.'

The university initially had only three schools - the palatine or palace school, Sainte-Genevieve, and the school of Notre-Dame. Massive reorganization took place in the latter part of thirteenth century. The university's population grew diverse, and students and faculty members were segregated according to either their language or regional origins. The university was divided into four 'nations' - French, Normans, English, and Picards.

During this time, four faculties were formed: the faculty of arts constituted by the four nations, and the 'superior faculties' of law, theology and medicine. In 1920, the Collge d'Harcourt was founded, and 37 years later, the College de Sorbonne was born. To this day, the University of Paris is still often referred to as La Sorbonne (after the college), or simply Sorbonne.

In the 1600's, the university was very influential to the Church, especially during the period of the Great Schism. It played a major role in the councils and even in politics all through national crises. When King John was captured and Paris was relinquished to factions, the university became instrumental in restoring peace. During the reign of Louis XIV when Spain crossed Somme and jeopardized Paris, the university gave two hundred men at the ruler's disposal. According to the Hist. de l'Univers. de Paris au XVIIe et XVIIIe siecle, 132-34, it even proffered the Master of Arts degree to scholars who served in the army.

The revolution caused the university to collapse in the 1700's when the National Convention decided to replace it with a single educational centre - the University of France. The university was re-established towards the end of the century, but its faculty of theology did not survive.

In 1968, the university was again closed down because of the 'French May', when numerous student strikes broke out in high schools and universities throughout Paris. It has since been reorganised into 13 independent universities. All these autonomous campuses are still under one chancellor.

The University of Paris incorporates 13 different universities:
  • Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Panthéon-Assas
  • Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • Paris-Sorbonne
  • René Descartes
  • Pierre & Marie Curie
  • Denis Diderot
  • Vincennes-Saint-Denis
  • Dauphine
  • Nanterre
  • Paris-Sud
  • Val-de-Marne
  • Paris-Nord

Famous Students

As one of the most famous universities in the world, the collection of institutes under the collective name of the University of Paris have been responsible for educating some of the world's most famous intellectuals.

In the 11th century, Lambert, disciple of Filbert of Chartres; Drogo of Paris; Manegold of Germany; and Anselm of Laon, a famous French theologian, taught here, producing some well-known students. The impeccable reputation of the first-class teachers ensured the university attracted famous scholars from across the globe.

Some of Paris University's better known students include St Stanislaus of Szczepanów, later the Bishop of Krakow; Gebbard, who was to become Archbishop of Salzburg; St Stephen, a Christian saint and one of the founders of the Cistercian order; and Robert d'Arbrissel, a famous preacher and the founder of the Abbey of Fontevrault.

William of Champeaux, the disciple of Anselm of Laon and one of the most advanced Realists of his time, taught Peter Aberlard here for a short time, who later became a renowned philosopher and logician. Peter Lombard also came to study here, and was later to become a celebrated theologian and the Bishop of Paris.

From its beginnings, the university attracted nobility and distinguished youth. Pope Celestine II studied under Pierre Abélard at the Sorbonne, while Pope Adrian IV is also said to have studied here. The nephews of Alexander III came to learn here as well as Lotario de' Conti di Segni, who studied theology under the instruction of Peter of Corbeil and later went on ruled the Church as Innocent III.

Otto of Freisingen, the German bishop and chronicler; Cardinal Conrad, who became the Archbishop of Mainz; Thomas Becket, who was elected as Archbishop of Canterbury; and John of Salisbury, Bishop of Chartres were among the most prestigious of early students at the schools of Paris.

Other notables include: Pope Alexander V (1339-1410), pope during the Western Schism; St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Italian Catholic philosopher and theologian; Marie Sklodowska-Curie (1867-1934), physicist, twice winner of the Nobel Prize; Victor Hugo (1802-1885), Romantic novelist, playwright and statesman; and Pol Pot (1925-1998), leader of the Khmer Rouge and the Prime Minister of Cambodia, responsible for genocide.

Contact University of Paris:
Address: Rue Victor Cousin, 75230, Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 46 22 11
Fax: +33 (0)1 46 34 20 56
Paris University

Paris University

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