Università degli Studi di Perugia

The Founding of the University

In medieval times, the greatness of a city did not lie only in the importance of its political institutions or its commercial potential, naturally connected to its military might, but also in its ability to educate and promote the diffusion of advanced thought; and in its capacity to promote the development of a particular way of thinking that would significantly contribute to the advancement of society as a whole. These issues were certainly on the minds of the political elite that managed and supervised the City of Perugia as demonstrated by the City Statute of 1285, which provided for the City's promotion and creation of a University, or Studium ut civitas Perusii sapientia valeat elucere et in ea Studium habeatur ("so that the City of Perugia would shine with knowledge and that in it there would be a Studium"). In fact, in the decade prior to the Statute, the City's public administration was already concerned about providing higher education to city residents. Evidence of this has been found in the City's archives and this evidence has been used by some scholars to cite 1276 as the real year in which the University was established. This is the date displayed on the University's banner. The original University, was "special" in the sense that the degrees awarded were only recognised within the confines of Perugia. It was the responsibility of the City to recruit talented professors, able to attract students because of their fame as teachers. In doing this, the City paved the way for eventual recognition, by the universal authorities --the Pope and the Emperor-- of the Studium's degree programs and their validity in all of the territories of the Church and the Emperor. Perugia's first step toward achieving this objective came in the form of the Statute of 1306, which set out the regulations for the establishment of the new institution. Full achievement of this objective came on the 8th of September, 1308, when Pope Clement V, issued Perugia with a document called the Super specula. The longstanding loyalty and devotion of Perugia to the Holy See made it worthy of receiving this, the highest order of recognition for education which gave it the authority to perform the highest of educational functions. The act of Clement V made Perugia a "leggere generaliter", giving its degree courses universal validity and recognition. The Università degli Studi di Perugia had been officially born and from that point on it enjoyed a rapid ascent. Formal imperial recognition of the University was granted in 1355, when Charles IV, who was in Rome for his coronation as Emperor, awarded Perugia with two diplomas: the first diploma granted the City the permanent right to have a University, and the second diploma granted all people, even those from remote places, free access to, and free return home from, the Studium with immunity from all types of reprisal, duty and tax.