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.


The University in the 14th Century

In the 14th century, the University offered two degree courses: Law and General Arts. Medicine, Philosophy and Logic quickly distinguished themselves from the other Arts although, during the course of the century, they did not succeed in becoming independent faculties. Upon request by the people and the City Council, and at the will of Gregory XI, a Theology Faculty is said to have been added in 1371, but no documents exist that confirm its actual establishment. With the Statute of 1306, the City recognised the privilege of those attending the University, or the "scholars" to be able to associate in "Universitas": Scolaribus qui sunt et pro tempore erunt in civitate Perusii sit licitum universitatem constituere. The "Universitas" was no different than a corporation run by a Rector with the power to supervise all of the members and to ensure that they conduct themselves in accordance with the Statute.Being a recognised "corporation", the Universitas also had the possibility to actively participate in the City government in addition to, providing for the smooth operation of the Universitas and the quality of the courses taught.Throughout the course of this century the research and teaching activities were extremely "fertile" and many renowned professors were among the Studium's first teachers. Among these was Iacopo da Belviso of Bologna, a legal scholar of undisputed competence and remarkable originality. The course, "corso monografico", or "case study" as it would be called today, taught by Iacopo da Belviso constituted, in the first years following the University's founding, a reason for which many scholars to came to Perugia. Belviso's successor was Cino dei Sinibuldi of Pistoia, a great poet and legal scholar. Attending Cine's lectures on legal code and law digest, or collection of laws, was Bartolo da Sassoferrato, destined to become the most prominent legal scholar of medieval times. Sassoferrato was later professor at the University from 1354 until his death in approximately 1357. During Sassoferrato's tenure as Professor, the new method for studying Law, referred to as "del commento", or "Commentary" was perfected. Also from the "fertile" Bartolo School, Baldo degli Ubaldi, another great 14th Century legal scholar emerged. He became a Professor in as early as 1348, a position which he held for thirty years, during which time he managed to ever increase the University's reputation by virtue of his wealth of knowledge and his legal insight. Gentile da Foligno, the University's most illustrious professor of medicine, died during the plague which decimated the city in 1348. Da Foligno, one of the 14th Century's major scientific figures, fell victim to his insatiable desire for knowledge, which consequently led him to spend too much time with the ill.


The Statute of 1306

If one were to choose a symbolic date to mark the beginning of the University's story, one would probably need to go back in time to 1306, the year in which the Statute was created. In that year, in fact, in Perugia, preparations were in full swing for a diplomatic mission to be sent to Clement V in order to obtain the title of Studium Generale. To ensure a positive outcome for this delicate mission, it was necessary, among other things, to introduce into the statute a chapter regulating all the aspects of university life, or rather, the procedure to follow regarding the hiring of professors, the privileges guaranteed to students, appointment of institutional figures to administrative posts, as in other university cities such as Bologna.n short, for the first time a shape was given to higher education in Perugia, something which the City of Perugia had been trying to promote since the middle of the 13th Century. This happened two years prior to 1308, the year in which the Perugian delegation finally succeeded in obtaining Papal privilege.This privilege is generally considered to be the University's founding document. Given this, when should the University of Perugia's 700 years of life be commemorated: in 2006 or in 2008? The question, from the point of view of historical interpretation is not completely futile. The most established historical-legal point of view is that which adopts the year 1308 as the birth year of the University; recognition by a universal authority (papal or imperial) was indispensable for the institutional validity of a school or university during the medieval ages. If one were to decide on 1306 as the year of origin, then one would be insisting upon the historical importance the City of Perugia's initiative in the birth of the institution. Prior to 1306 city officials in Perugia were aware of the need to provide higher education and they were able to prepare a legal framework in order to achieve this objective through the statute, the typical instrument of its legislative autonomy.


The Founding Papal Bull - 8 September 1308

The privilege bestowed by Pope Clement V was followed by that of John XXII and these granted the Perugian Studium the authority to award Doctoral degrees in Civil and Canon law (1308), and in Medicine and the Arts (1321).
Later on, recognition by the Imperial authority was also granted to the Perugian Studium in the form of two diplomas issued by Charles IV on the 19th of May, 1355.
The history of the preservation of these documents is testimony to the strong bond linking society and the City's institutions to their University. For a long period of time the Founding Bull, together with the diploma from Charles IV and along with other documents considered of fundamental importance to city, were housed in a small cypress chest, set into the front of Palazzo dei Priori, the Town Hall.Today, at Palazzo dei Priori, a small memorial plaque containing the inscription, A.D. MCCCLV- Carolus imperator, Perusini status amator, has gratias egit, quas lapis iste tegit, is still visible.


The University between the "Signorie" and "Principati" periods: between the 15th and 18th Centuries

ven in Perugia, the Holy See and the Holy Roman Empire, the two universal authorities, ceased to be the principal reference points for the University.
The Popes, whenever taking initiative regarding the development and the direction of the University of Perugia (an activity to which they dedicated a good deal of time to during the 15th Century), did so as "Papal Sovereigns".One of the most significant "Signorili" experiences (the Signori were powerful men who took power in various cities, but they were not recognised by the Emperor or the Holy See) for the Studium was that of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, which lasted for three years.On the 19th of January, 1400, upon approving the pacts of commitment between the Priori and the ambassador of Milan, the General Council, welcomed the clause stipulating that "se degga mantenere lo Studium alla città de Perosia ("Perugia must have a University").n 1403, when Perugia returned under Papal rule, the City and Pope Boniface IX came to an agreement which established quod Studium manuteneri debeat in civitate Perusii cum salaris et expensis consuetis, secundum formam statutorum civitatis. This was almost the same formula used by Braccio da Montone, who exercised a "signorile" type of control over the City with strong collaboration from the Pope in order to guarantee the preservation of the University. The definitive transformation of the University took place in 1467 when Pope Paul II ordered his governors to intervene in the management of the institution, the recruitment of professors and the appointment of chairmanships. The effects of this new situation on the University were profound and, deprived of its autonomy, the University precipitated in crisis. The crisis, which continued throughout the 16th Century, did not affect teaching at the University, but was limited primarily to its organisation and, by consequence, also to its healthy operation. A radical reform, Pro directione et gubernio Studii Perusii, was finally introduced by Popo Urban VIII and it remained the fundamental law of the University of Perugia for two centuries.New significant evolutions and changes came along during the course of the 18th Century, when radical changes in principals and methods of study, in both the exact and moral sciences, began to manifest themselves along with an irrepressible ambition on the part of the scholars for more freedom of thought and speech.


The Napoleonic, Papal, and Autonomous University

The significant political and social events taking place at the end of the 18th Century and at the beginning of the 19th Century provoked important changes within the University itself, stimulating the reorganisation and the revision of its programmes of study.The University, once maintained and managed by local government institutions and protected by the Prince, was replaced during a new era of Papal monarchy that presided over the University. Under Papal authority, the University had limited administrative autonomy as its ruling bodies were directly controlled by the central Papal government in Rome. During this period, the University became a real centre of state culture.n the period immediately preceding 1860, the old Perugia Studium was rapidly reorganised, and transformed into a modern university. The first reforms were clearly manifestations of the revolutionary climate which existed at the end of the 18th Century. Among the promoters of these reforms were Hannibal Mariotti, Professor of Medical Theory and Anatomy, and perhaps the most representative figure of the political and academic world of that era; and Antonio Brizi, also a Professor at the University. After the Roman Republic experience and then a brief period of control by the Austrian government the University returned under Papal government.
The Papal government immediately provided a "Plan for the Re-opening of the University of Perugia" which included, the substitution of professors "affected by French views".
Despite this, the Anatomical-Surgical Academy, along with its surgical theatre was founded: a clear sign that the University was in touch with the new scientific progresses of the day, and the most modern and widespread ways of thinking and learning. With the union of the Papal States and Perugia to the French empire, decreed by Napoleon in May of 1809, new lines of authority reached the University.The advancements achieved during the Napoleonic period were so significant that the Papal government, reactivated by its reinstatement, decided not to bring about any administrative or academic changes, at least at first, while waiting for a new definite statute. This statute came only with Pope Leo XII, in August 1824: a single law that regulated every aspect of university life and applied to all the State's universities. The other episodes during the events that led up to national unity, in 1861, restored the city with an institution ready to grow and to create an environment in which research and teaching would re-bloom. This is evidenced by the establishment of the "Foundation for Agrarian Education" in 1892 and the "Institute of Experimental Agriculture", whose objective was to promote the advancement of agriculture through general research and the education of farmers.


Teaching and Research Activities in the 19th Century

he 19th Century was a period characterised by new achievements and breakthroughs for Umbrian and Perugian culture.This renewed energy was given life by the increasingly steady exchange with other academic centres.Several great Professors emerged including: Antonio Brizi, scholar of various literary and philosophical subjects; Silvestro Bruschi and Vermiglioli.The passage of the medical and natural sciences from the realm of speculative sciences to that of experimental sciences was demonstrated by the activity of the distinguished doctors including: Hannibal Mariotti and Giuseppe Severini, who closely followed the modern scientific and teaching methods of observation of the ill and also of experimentation; the Pharmacist, Annibale Vecchi; the Botanist, Domenico Bruschi; the Physicist, Bernardo Dessau; and the Chemists, Giuseppe Colizzi and Sebastiano Purgotti.Dominating the Perugian literary scene during the Century's first decade was Professor Giuseppe Antinori, an Arcadian and Classicist, while the historical sciences gained unprecedented momentum thanks to Giovan Battista Vermiglioli, Ariodante Fabretti, and Count Giancarlo Conestabile della Staffa.


The Seal of the University

From its origin and up until modern times, there have been several different more-or-less autonomous members comprising the University: the City, that served an administrative function by way of the Savi judiciary, the various groups or boards of elite academicians to which professors from various disciplines belonged, the studentUniversitates, organised according to the geographic provenance of the students, and the Bishop, responsible for degree conferment.Each one of these member bodies had adopted a characteristic symbol to be used as a seal.
Even individual professors or the student presidents used their own seal, in many cases, adopting that of their family.However, despite the multiplicity of contributing member bodies, the most prevalent one seemed always to be the City; not only because the City had been the founder of the University and had maintained it since its establishment, but above all, because the University, in every period, was considered a "creature" of the City, a source of pride and fame. Given this, the University chose, Saint Herculan, the patron Saint of Perugia, as its symbol.Then, in the 17th Century, the University adopted the grifo or griffin, (a mythological creature that is half eagle and half lion) the symbol of excellence, as its coat of arms. The grifo was portrayed as standing on its hind legs, holding a book, symbol of the University, and a laurel branch, symbol of the university degree.
Since then, the grifo has been present in all of the University's coat of arms, albeit with small alterations made in accordance with the times, up until the crowned grifo holding a fascio littorio, (a symbol composed of a bail of straw and an axe; this symbol was usually displayed by the Roman Emperor upon returning to Rome after victory in battle and then was later adopted by the Italian Fascist party) with the larger symbol of the Casa Savoia (the Savoia family) above. In 1925, the Ministry of Public Education ordered that all Italian universities have a seal displaying their respective coat of arms.Therefore, also in Perugia, the work of deciding upon a seal commenced.
Professor Luigi Tarulli was entrusted with the task of conducting historical research whilst the graphic production of was the responsibility of Professor Alberto Iraci.
The problem was what symbol to adopt. After a period of long discussion and consideration, a final design was chosen: a shield surrounded by a circle with the Latin inscription: Studium Generale civitatis Perusii constitutum A.D. MCCLXXVI.The shield was divided into two halves. In the left half, Saint Herculan is depicted with the inscription: Sanctus Herculanus, and in the right half, the grifo is depicted.
The University banner was also created, embroidered by hand using gold thread and displaying the same image of the seal, lined on each side by the fascio littorio symbols, eliminated in 1949 and substituted by laurel branches.In the years following the Second World War, a circular seal with two halves was created, like the actual one containing the grifo and Saint Herculan, but lacking all chronological references.Only in the last years, in memory of the Clement V's granting of the Studium Generale privilege to the University, has the date 1308 been inserted in the external inscription.
Reference to the Papal Bull as the moment of the University's establishment was preferred to the year 1276, date of the first news of teaching activity in the City.
Instead, this date was adopted in the 1925 seal and remains today in the University's banner.