1451 – Establishment of the University of Glasgow
As yesterday was the 560th anniversary of the University of Glasgow, I’m going to quickly recount the story of the establishment of the University of Glasgow, and its early years.
In the middle of the 15th century William Turnbull, then Bishop of Glasgow, pursued the establishment of a second University in Scotland at the encouragement of King James II, for the purpose of providing . The idea, proposed by James II to Pope Nicholas V, culminated in the issuing of a papal bull, dated January 7th, 1451, establishing a studium generale to provide classes in theology, canon and civil law, arts, and other lawful faculties. The papal bull arrived in Glasgow on June 20th that same year.
The papal bull, the only means of establishing that the university has a historic power to confer degrees, was taken to Paris in 1560 for safekeeping during the Reformation, along with other valuables of the University, including the University Mace. The Mace was returned in 1590, but the papal bull sadly remains lost.
Unfortunately, the University was not blessed with riches and significant endowments in its infancy. The founders of the University passed away very shortly after the foundation. For the first nine years of its existence classes were taught in a chapter house in the Glasgow Cathedral, as well as in the Blackfriars Church, and funds were gathered from certain small fees levied to the students. Thankfully the following decades saw endowments and land been granted to the University by benefactors, allowing the University to eventually build what came be known as the Old College on High Street.
You can read the entire text of the Papal Bull on the University of Glasgow Story website, in both the original Latin and the English translation.
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