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Universitas Europeensis

I want to write about a part of history, a part of the history of knowledge. And while I may not have all the knowledge of history, I have a history with knowledge, which is why I searched and found some pieces of history and some pieces of knowledge that I must share before I develop my thoughts based on my own knowledge of this part of history.

I am not mentioning these pieces of knowledge to teach you history, nor to show you the way to knowledge. However, if I want us to communicate in the brief period of history that you will be reading in the following lines, I must mention some of them, which are not pieces of general knowledge for a wide audience.

Moreover, the history that concerns this article is not general, if there is such a thing as general history. It is the history of the birth of the first universities in Europe, and it is also the history that we live in our days and concerns how the way knowledge transfer is organized meets the need that made history … that initial history of organizing knowledge.

A History of Knowledge

To set the context for the development of ideas, we must take a journey through history. One that is geographically close, but chronologically distant by 10 centuries.

We find ourselves in the 11th century AD, at the dawn of the 2nd millennium, which was probably not celebrated with the corresponding fanfare as the beginning of the 3rd was, as there were numerous other concerns for the medieval world of Europe to deal with. A world that had long since left behind its Roman past, holding it only as tradition and cultural foundation, to add to this the dominance of Christianity and the entry of Germanic tribes in the formation of European civilization, in the centuries that intervened from the fall of the Roman Empire.

Europe no longer had “barbarians”, or at least that’s what Europeans decided, who considered themselves and each other civilized enough as they knew how to read the Gospel. However, in order to read the Gospel – and other religious texts – they had begun to organize knowledge across a large area of the continent. A knowledge that had been extensively reorganized in antiquity, but had been dissolved by those who took the Gospel in their hands to overthrow the barbarians who had organized knowledge.

If there was one Great person who cut the thread of the history of knowledge, named Theodosius, there was another Great person, who for his own reasons, perhaps did not know what would follow centuries later, was the one who brought it back to life, Charles, known globally as Charlemagne, for linguistic reasons that I do not have the historical knowledge to explain.

Charlemagne, of course, is at the forefront of history 300 years before the history covered in this article, as his reign marked the developments in the late 8th and early 9th centuries. What he generally did and who he ruled over is not the essence of our story, so I won’t elaborate on it, but he is the first name mentioned because during his reign, he showed particular zeal for the development of religious schools, which would organize the personnel of religious officials who were essentially the basis for governing a new empire that had a very big idea of itself, so big that it was called the Holy Roman Empire. The truth is that in one way or another, this empire survived for a much longer period than the Roman Empire, but that too is a part of history that does not concern our story.

What concerns our history is that in Western Europe there appeared schools, or at least religious institutions of education, which necessarily transmitted knowledge. If a few decades under the reign of a monarch were enough to establish enough of these religious schools, three centuries, until the 11th century, were more than enough to make them a cultural element of what is called Western Europe, the Western Christian World, which geographically speaking, by today’s standards, included half of Italy, Germany and all the countries in between, the Low Countries and a significant part of France. East of Germany there was a conglomerate of peoples who did not have clear borders and were more spread out in vast and relatively cold areas, while in the Southeast there were Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire, while in the Iberian Peninsula the Arabs were located, with the great civilization of the Andalus.

In this small part of Western Europe, which 10 centuries later decided to also have a grand idea of itself and be called the European Union, there were schools, which were usually housed in the large churches, the so-called cathedrals.

In these schools, the philosophy of God, namely theology, as well as the law of God, namely canon law, were taught. Canon law not in the sense of the Greek word for normality, but in the sense that the word acquired through its Latin adventure, to denote its direct correlation with the divine, the holy, and the sacred.

Students who learned theology and canon law gained prestige in the medieval society of the 9th and 10th centuries because they could become officials of the most powerful institution that determined the fate of the Western European world, the Papal Church of Rome. “Papal” because it had not yet doctrinally split, but the term is probably needed because it had split from others politically.

The passage of the 9th and 10th centuries AD brought history and knowledge, which were spread in religious schools, at the dawn of the so-called High Middle Ages. The High Middle Ages is the period from 1000 to 1250 and constitutes the chronology that our history focuses on, the one that I am describing in this article. The other, less interesting, develops in our days.

The High Middle Ages is an era considered by historians as an important period of progress, at least in relation to the centuries that preceded it, focusing on Western Europe. It includes a period called the “12th-century Renaissance,” which is the most significant of the three so-called medieval renaissances that preceded the main Renaissance, with which the Late Middle Ages ended. Its importance lies in the fact that it was a period of resurgence of sciences and philosophy in Western Europe, which had fallen into decline since the dissolution of the Roman Empire. This evolution is closely linked to our history.

There are historians who argue that a temporary change in climate in the continents around the North Atlantic, corresponding to a relative increase in temperature around the years 950 to 1250, partially contributed to the emergence of the 12th century Renaissance. As I personally do not have the necessary knowledge of history to judge the historical information, I mention it as additional information that concerns the general approach of historical knowledge.

However, what is certain is that the network of schools that was being created for three centuries had become an institution with great social and economic significance. Its importance was so great that it defined through the process of disseminating knowledge, the very history of some places.


One such place was a town that began to develop at the intersection of the main road arteries of the Italian peninsula. The Etruscan Felsina, which had been named Bononia by the Boii Celts with their name, was a point of great military importance and therefore a place of army installation. At the end of the first millennium, the activities taking place in this place were of little importance. One reason was that until then, the great process of urban settlement and life had not begun, and production was scattered in the great and fertile countryside of the Po Valley. However, the change in way of life in the 11th century also changed the cultural course of places located in strategic geographic positions, such as the intersection of the Italian peninsula.

The development of Bononia, which we know today as Bologna, was either helped or aided – something that remains an open question for historians – by the parallel flourishing of schools teaching the law of God, canon law, in the 11th century. However, another event came to change the quality of this progress and transform it into a revolutionary change for the evolution of knowledge transmission, not only for Bologna, nor only for the Middle Ages, but for the entire world, literally the whole planet, as we know it today.

In the year 1070, a copy of the Justinian Code, also known as the Corpus Juris Civilis, was discovered in Ravenna, which is 75 kilometers away from Bologna. It is believed to have been there since the time of the Exarchate of Ravenna, having been transferred from an early Roman law school according to historians. The timing was perfect, as the return to scientific and philosophical texts of antiquity allowed for the development of an interest in studying such a legal text. Thus, with the transfer of the text to Bologna, a series of legal scholars who wanted to study the text were also transferred, teaching their knowledge to students who flocked from every corner of the Western European world.

These students become the pupils of a higher education scale, as they are in a spectacularly privileged environment for the time, to learn the analysis of the historical text of a secular law from the most knowledgeable. For this reason, they organize schools that now resemble more academic institutions and pay experts to transmit this unique and elusive knowledge.

The reference to the early academia of this process is not accidental. The experts, known as glossatori, are those who comment on the legal text itself through a process that is recorded, while at the same time they record and systematize the process that explains the development of this commentary to their students, the students of the schools.

The importance of schools is enormous for the city of Bologna, which experiences economic growth from the influx of intellect and future intellect of the era. For this reason, all necessary conditions are created to facilitate the work of these schools.

Very quickly, the students of the schools decide to organize themselves and accordingly organize the learning process. The reasons they organize are primarily social, as the status of a student in a unified institution gives them privileges against the law and local authorities, because they are now treated as a community with rights and strong influence in the city, and not as foreign citizens, exposed to the complex medieval exercise of every authority. For example, a common feature in the treatment of foreign nationalities at that time was that if a crime was committed by a member of an ethnic community, not only the individual criminal was punished, but all of his fellow countrymen as well. This practice historically found a first obstacle from the organization of those students.

If the organization of students was mainly provoked by social reasons, its historical impact on the history of academic knowledge and knowledge in general is much greater. This organization, in addition to being an organization of individuals, also becomes an organization of schools, which constitute a unified institution under which all the processes of higher education in the fields of civil and canon law, theology and arts, which include a range of modern sciences, operate. Thus, the first university in history is born, in the form we know today, on a date that was decided to be 1088 in the late 19th century. The so-called Studium is geographically scattered throughout the city, but operates with a unified structure and begins one of the most impressive journeys of humanity that continues to this day, serving as an indicator of the development of civilization in every era.

With the establishment of Studium, as it was called at the time, which later evolved into Alma Mater Studiorum, the University of Bologna, a series of processes appear for the first time in history, such as the award of a degree upon completion of studies, the recognition of student status as a social condition, the academic promotion of professors who make up the body of experts, with the right to teach their subject at the highest level of education. The status of being a member of the academic community is so important that many students do not even complete their studies, not due to laziness, but because their goal is not to obtain a degree title. Participation in the process of higher education gives tremendous prestige to every member of society and translates into an improvement in the social status of the participants as students, no matter at what point their studies are interrupted.

The academic community appears as a guild within the feudal system, among other guilds that develop means of manual and intellectual production, in order to claim the transformation of societies into a system where they, as a unified bourgeois class, hold power, many centuries later. But is this guild characteristic a permanent feature of the academic community? Perhaps such a conclusion is too simplistic and hasty, because over the centuries the social class origins of both the students and the academic teachers themselves change. The difference that the academic guild has in relation to all others is that it holds a tool that is very easy to democratize when it is not under the strict control of every authority. Thus, in the feudal system, the position of this part was next to the parts of society that were sowing the seed for social evolution towards capitalism, and the same thing can happen in other conditions, in more advanced social and economic formations.

These innovations, however, serve more for the definition of the University itself. A series of other developments that concern that first in history academic world have a particular content of inspiration even today.

As students essentially constitute the founders of the University, they also support it financially and manage it. The State and the Church, although later on they supported the academic process and the university institution, still did not have a role in the developments that concerned it, at the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th century. The students take care of their professors having a salary, remuneration that will keep them within the framework of the newly established institution, and organize its administration, organizing their own guild.

Initially, at Studium there were three large student guilds, each with the not-at-all unfamiliar name in our times, Universitas. The first two were for students of law, one for those from regions of the Italian peninsula, called Universitas citramontanorum, and one for those from other regions of Europe, called Universitas ultramontanorum. The third guild was for students of arts and medicine, known as Universitas artisarum et medicorum. These guilds elected one of their members, a student who became the Rector and represented what in Greek we would translate as “university.” The first Rectors in the history of universities were students, and perhaps this is an element that shows the importance of the student community in the academic community. A university without students does not exist, and without students, there probably would never have been a university in the history of humanity.

With this organization, the University of Bologna establishes the archetype of the “University of Students”, which as a model will become the basis for the establishment of other institutions in the course of the historical evolution of the Old Continent.

Students, with their guilds and rectors, define the rights of the academic community within society. They know that their presence’s contribution to the city’s development is particularly significant, as it is now called Bologna La Dotta, Bologna the Wise, describing the basic activity that takes place within its walls. Through a process that involves many conflicts, mainly with the authorities and rulers, they create a framework for protecting the academic community from the law. Essentially, the law ends where academic identity begins, defining a framework that will survive for centuries, as academic asylum, with fluctuations.

The power of the intellectual youth is so great that with their demands, they align not only with the teachers of their time but also with the Pope himself, who recognizes the importance that such an institution has for his territory, as it creates a new generation of capable leaders for administration, but also develops the theoretical process that leads to the social evolution of the backward medieval societies, perhaps giving for the first time after many centuries an element that Western Europe begins to surpass Byzantium, the “legitimate heir” of the Roman Empire, but also the competitive Arab world, which for centuries had bowed over the knowledge of antiquity.

This process leads to a peculiar nationalization of academic teachers’ salaries, as the Pope believes that this way he will protect the existence of the University within his sphere of influence. Nevertheless, the management and organization of the academic community continue to be determined by the student unions.

Therefore, one can observe that a necessary component accompanying the University as an institution from its inception in human history is the assurance of its freedom from the laws that exist in the society that hosts it. Of course, this includes all social activity of the members of the academic community.

Although freedom of thought and academic discussion is still at a very early stage, given that the concept of law and God leaves little room for heretics, in the literal sense of the word, the steps taken in analyzing the commentary of the law, as well as the processes of recording the development of other sciences, form the basis for a methodology that will gradually transform into the scientific methodology we know today.


The “Student University” of Bologna is a model that one rarely encounters in the centuries that follow. But why is it so important and why was it not just a first spontaneous movement that inspired the development of higher education, but essentially the way in which the foundation was laid and still functions today? The answer is already given by the second university that was founded at another crossroads of Western Europe in 1150. That is when the University of Paris was founded, which later became known as … Sorbonne.

In Paris, the birthplace of academic education could be characterized as perhaps the most famous cathedral in the world, Notre Dame. About three centuries before the date of Victor Hugo’s novel, the theological school of Notre Dame takes the example of Bologna and organizes the teaching process according to the standards of the Italian city. The whole organization is a copy except for one element, which, however, was to play a crucial role in the development of academic institutions.

Given that the establishment of the University of Paris is not a response to a historical need, so as to become the result of pioneering thinking and organization of students, its founders, owners and administrators are the teachers, the so-called magistri, who should not be confused with the magistri of the offices and other administrative leaders of different eras. The university teachers are organized in a guild, exactly the same way that the establishment of the university essentially corresponds to the date of its foundation. 50 years later, in 1200, the University is also recognized as an institution of the state by royal decree and papal bull.

The student guilds, which are also formed with the establishment of the new institution, are initially four: the French, which includes the areas of the Italian and Iberian peninsula, due to Latin kinship, the English, which includes Germany due to Saxon kinship and later became known as the German, the Norman, and the Picardian. These guilds are often in conflict with each other, which is not recorded prominently in the activities of the guilds at the University of Bologna.

In Paris, some other characteristics of Universities meet for the first time, which may express a more conservative approach to academic knowledge and society. The most important may be that numerous levels of degrees appear, such as the baccalarius artium, which is taken by 20 to 40 percent of students, the master of arts, which concerns the sciences of medicine, theology, and law, taken by 10 to 20 percent of students, and the highest degree, licentia docendi, which only a few students obtain, and then have the right to teach their subject at the University. Examinations for this highest degree are only held upon recommendation of the interested student by the administrator of the early college of the Notre Dame de Paris.

In addition to students who obtain degrees, half of those who start their studies either do not care or never manage to obtain any degree and are characterized as scholaris simplex, freely translated as “simple students.” Finally, a special characteristic is the presence of some feudal lords who “invade” the University with all the pomp of their otherwise noble origin, as they need quite a few servants to be able to attend their lesson insolently.

This intra-academic categorization is a traditional approach in French higher education, which in the centuries that followed, faced each democratization of the Universities by establishing new academic institutions for the social elite.

If the University of Bologna was the one that showed the way, through the organization of its students, for the acquisition of critical freedoms to the benefit of the academic community, even if it was treated as a medieval guild, in Paris, the control by the few teachers who were also religious officials led three centuries after its foundation, to one of the biggest scandals in French history. The fact that the rulers of the University were not representatives of mass institutions, but a few select officials, helped create even smaller cliques (because they cannot be characterized as guilds), which supported the current social power. Thus, when the Anglophile professors were called under English administration to examine and judge Joan of Arc as a heretic, they arrived very easily at a conclusion that was exactly the opposite of that of their Gallophile colleagues a few years later when Paris had been liberated. Essentially, the University of Paris had put its seal on the burning of Jeanne d’Arc in 1431, creating a useful example, which can be generalized, especially when compared to the developments that the original establishment of the academic community wrought in human history.

One major contribution of the early medieval period of the University of Paris was the revival of neo-Aristotelianism as the dominant philosophy of the High and Late Middle Ages. Although there were hints of this in the commentary of Averroes, the Arab scholar who studied Aristotle and is perhaps the greatest representative of his medieval revival, they could not be studied in depth for fear of heresy. Neo-Aristotelianism was easily assimilated into the accepted ideology of the Catholic Church, which by now we can call Catholic as we refer to times after 1054, which in previous centuries had similarly accepted Neoplatonic teaching. In this light, one could argue that the loss of necessary freedom in medieval universities threw many more into the fire of heretics for several centuries, with Giordano Bruno, who was burned in Rome in 1600, being the most prominent example. Continuing this balance between comparisons and examples, it is perhaps worth mentioning that Copernicus gained his perception of the Heliocentric Universe during his years studying astronomy at the University of Bologna, where he had the opportunity to come into contact with the writings of Ptolemy, which he managed to study after first learning Greek.

Paris, as a city, however, was not Bologna, it was not a small military fortress in an important crossroads. Paris of the High Middle Ages was already a city with great economic and cultural development, and at times it was either the capital of large kingdoms, with its first designation as the Capital of the Frankish Kingdom by Clovis in 511, or the most important urban center of the territories of the state entities to which it belonged. Thus, the University had to face a much stronger society, against which it had to gain rights corresponding to those of the academic community of Bologna. This was a process that was quite arduous, with losses and harsh political games involving the local, state, and religious authorities, up to the Pope himself. Essentially, the support of Rome, that is, the Catholic Church, was what gave the academic guild the power to confront the very powerful local Parisian authority.

However, the process of conflicts also had losses. Sometimes the losses were students who fell victim to the anger – and perhaps the inferiority – of local authorities enforcing order. There were many cases where students were killed by police officers under circumstances whose origin and inspiration remained unclear.


According to the historian Hastings Rashdall, a conflict between the state and religious authority was the reason why a part of the academic community in Paris withdrew to create another large European university, however, this conflict took place far from Paris. According to this account, the King of England, Henry II, had strong disagreements with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in a development that led to the king’s decision to prohibit the studies of English subjects at the University of Paris, which was considered an institution under the auspices and influence of the Catholic Church.

This approach does not find all historians in agreement, but what is certain is that in that year, 1167, it acquired royal protection and recognition and was organized in a manner similar to Bologna and Paris, the University of Oxford. In fact, Oxford was founded on the model of Paris, that is, on the model of the “University of Teachers”.

Today, the University of Oxford cites the first recorded teaching process in the English town in 1096 as its founding date, perhaps not to claim the title of the oldest university in the world. However, it comes third in this historical series, precisely because it adopted the organization of the University as it had been shaped in Paris.

The reason why teaching began in a small town with a population of about 4,000 in comparison to London’s 40,000 in the 12th century is that the seat of royal administration and religious courts were located there at that time. Thus, a network of law schools developed around the state and religious institutions of power, similar to what had happened in Bologna due to the discovery of the Justinian Code.

At this point, the reference to Oxford could have ended if there was not a characteristic that appeared as an innovation and still characterizes Anglo-Saxon universities and perhaps the Anglo-Saxon perception of higher education. The student or teacher guilds, the Universitas of Bologna and Paris, in Oxford acquire a different way of functioning. Gradually, the Colleges, which existed in Paris as well, are transformed into closed clubs, which develop their own particular rules of operation, partially turning academic life into an activity that resembles that of secretive organizations, and often competing with each other, but above all, they are built in a way that promotes solidarity among their particularly privileged members who metaphorically acquire academic blood ties.

The introduction of categorizing students, as happened through the multiple levels of degrees in Paris, is evolving even more by touching the very process of academic life, through acceptance into one or the other college of the oldest British and generally Anglophone university. The term college, later adopted by other universities in Europe, including Bologna and Paris, to some extent alters the character of the academic guild as a social class or group. Frictions with the local society do not always find the academic community united with a consciousness of academic bonds, but in many cases are sufficient to create splits within it. Such a conflict, in fact, created a major schism at the University of Oxford, causing several members to leave and found the perennial rival university of Cambridge in 1209.

Some knowledge of our history

This was the part of historical knowledge that concerns the history of knowledge, which I needed to present in order to develop the thoughts that were born in my mind through the journey I took as I came into contact with this knowledge of history. Since I do not have all the relevant knowledge, I present some of the resources I used for this journey in the references section of this article, where one can find even more knowledge about history than what I shared with you in order to develop my next thoughts. Perhaps, in addition to the journey through history, the main journey, that is the geographical one, is a help. The fact that I studied in Paris, work in an institution of so-called academic research in Bologna, and had the good fortune to stay for a week at a college in Oxford, helped to compose historical images in my mind. When you walk a path, it is easier to bring to life the figures who walked it in the past. For this reason, I would say that beyond the right to knowledge, we must also have the right to travel and movement, and if this does not exist, some guilds should claim it with the support of the Catholic Church. Perhaps, it is a need for the corresponding organization to turn it into a universal right.

Bringing the historical retrospect to our own history, namely the very recent European history, I leave behind the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the great Revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries, and I arrive at the post-Cold War European world, the European Union, which, in its perception, as an institution, finds its cultural roots where our present history began, with Charlemagne, thus declaring with its European aspiration that it is the evolution of the common understanding and common tradition of a geographical area that includes Germany, France, the northern part of Italy and has walked hand in hand with the Roman Catholic Church for many centuries.

In 1998, 910 years after the birth of the University of Bologna, as recorded in the historical archives, the then Minister of Higher Education of France, Claude Allegre, invited his counterparts from Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom to Paris to discuss his great inspiration, the formation of a unified space for higher education in Europe.

At this meeting, they agree on a series of ideas that a year later, in 1999, they agree upon at a conference attended by all the ministers with portfolios that include higher education in the European Union. This conference, for probably symbolic reasons, takes place in Bologna.

At the Bologna Conference, the corresponding treaty is agreed upon, which serves as a map for each member state of the then 15-member Union regarding its policy on Higher Education. Thus, in an ironic way, we move from the “University of Students” and the “University of Teachers”, which are the two models of European history for Higher Education and therefore elements of European culture, to the “University of Ministers” or, to be more precise: the University that was conceived by 4 Ministers and agreed upon by 15.

Oh, the wonder, history is sometimes ruthless against such ironies and against the invisible hand of the market. The visible hand of historical necessity is embodied in the student movements that, during the decade 2000-2010, in a series of European Union countries, opposed the mutation of Higher Education systems as attempted in each country separately. However, students are no longer characterized as a guild, as the very mode of production has evolved and with its democratization, or rather with its massification, it also leads to the massification of the academic body of students, which has therefore been democratized.

The so-called Bologna Treaty, which does not spare any honor for the cradle of the academic world, employs an inspiration that was formed by the University of Paris during its early years of operation and later shaped the French perception of higher education: categorization. Low-quality higher education for the many, high-quality education for the few, literally for the chosen ones, perhaps not for the head of the religious administration of Notre Dame, but for those who can adapt to a series of political and secular philosophical views on science and its function.

In France, this is of course a tradition – and for this reason, it may not be a coincidence that the idea comes from a French minister, a geologist by profession but a climate change denier for years. During major social revolutions in France that led to the democratization of the higher education system, the State created new academic institutions, even in the prestigious city of Paris and at the expense of the historic University of Paris, in order to host the social and thereafter the educational elite. The Écoles system was an idea to develop brilliant scientists, often under the auspices of the French army itself, who were and still are the leaders of the power system of this great European state. In France, perhaps due to the excessive rationalism of the Enlightenment, the State did not hesitate to dissolve the historic University of Paris itself, dividing it into 13 universities of different categories in 1970, in the aftermath of the events of May ’68 and the symbolic and historical significance of the occupation of Montagne Saint-Genevieve, the historical seat of the Sorbonne.

The French system of creating an educational elite has created the social phenomenon of educational nepotism, as historically the majority of the descendants of families who themselves had done something similar in the past have passed through the gates of these top academic institutions. In France, this phenomenon is known and defined by the term “The Great Gate”, through which pass the informal feudal lords of our post-feudal era – and some more.

In the British College system, this evolution was embraced with fanfare, but without affecting the Colleges themselves. A large number of academic institutions could welcome millions of students seeking a degree with the least prestige worldwide, and the use of the English language gave the greatest advantage in this race for the conquest of the educational market.

In other countries, some institutions were excluded from this process, thus sealing the top-down categorization mandate, which some advocates of European culture prefer to dress up with the wrapping of another word, excellence.

Twenty or more years after the Bologna treaty, the allocation of community and state funds for research shows mercilessly that this categorization aimed at probing and manipulating that famous invisible hand of the market, which may not be visible through relations of production, but everyone can predict its trajectory, replacing papal infallibility with ministerial, presidential, or any non-heretical for the current economic and power system.

In the poorest countries, which could be called patriae simplex to remind students who did not graduate from medieval Paris, neither community nor state funding is available – and because the hungry bellies dream, excellence becomes a slogan on the lips of feudal lords who passed through the Great Gate to return and become masters in their small village.

Regarding the freedom and protection of higher education from every local authority, the “University of Ministers” has neither students, nor teachers, as rectors to protect it. Today, the rectors give orders to the police authorities to invade the spaces of academic havens of knowledge and ideas, in order to drag the heads of the students on the pavement who finally do what is their historical duty, as they learned from Bologna, Paris, Oxford and all the great institutions throughout European history.

It is worth wondering how the defenders of the reactionary and essentially medieval view of higher education, who desire its return to a essentially school model, are the first enemies of Academic Asylum while at the same time donning the mantle of Europeanism, out of fear that the Pope might come and label them heretics. Perhaps the fact that the inability to obtain research funding through Eurospeak functions to some extent like the Inquisition, as it can lead to academic death, is part of the reason.

However, we do not live outside of history, so that we can only comment on it and occasionally, when we have the necessary knowledge, interpret it. We are children of history, subjects that live within it and are obligated to shape it. How we will shape it in our time is something that future generations will discuss, just as we have reason to discuss the universities of the Middle Ages today.

At the University of Bologna in the 11th century, the so-called trivium and quadrivium were taught, which included rhetoric and dialectic. What dialectic is it that today shows the position that academics and the intellectual world in general should have in society? What is the organization, equivalent to the medieval guild, that can lead to social development with the current economic, political, and productive relations? It’s a rhetorical question.

With the European culture as our guide, let us create the necessary Studium of our time, in contrast to the theories and institutions that led scientists to the stake. This is to avoid remaining in a social stagnation equivalent to the geocentric universe.

Our Alma Mater is the history we live in…


  • Bonazzi, G., 2011. Bologna nella storia: Volume I – Dalle origini all’unità d’Italia. Pendragon.
  • Haskins, C.H., 2013. The rise of universities. Cornell University Press.
  • Janin, H., 2014. The university in medieval life, 1179-1499. McFarland.
  • de Ridder-Symoens, H. and Rüegg, W. eds., 2003. A history of the university in Europe: Volume 1, Universities in the Middle Ages (Vol. 1). Cambridge University Press.
  • Sarti, N., 2018. Scuole, studium, ateneo: i primi nove secoli dell’Università di Bologna. Bononia University Press.
  • Pedersen, O., 1997. The first universities: Studium generale and the origins of university education in Europe. Cambridge University Press.
  • Rashdall, H., 1886. The origines of the University of Paris. The English Historical Review, 1(4), pp.639-676.
  • Rashdall, H., 1895. The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages: Salerno. Bologna. Paris (Vol. 1). Clarendon Press.

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