Louvain, University of

   The first and (until the late 16th century) only university in the Netherlands. Founded in 1425 with faculties of liberal arts, law, and medicine, it was authorized in 1432 to add a faculty of theology, thus acquiring all four of the faculties traditionally found in a medieval university. As the only university in a large and wealthy region, Louvain became a flourishing institution. Its statutes and customs were modelled on the practices of Paris, Cologne, and Vienna, and many of the earliest faculty were graduates of those institutions. The university was committed to the realist tradition (via antiqua) of philosophical and theological teaching. Although Louvain was a bulwark of medieval scholasticism, by the late 15th century it did have humanist teachers. In 1517 the Collegium Trilingue (Trilingual College), a special institute for the study of the languages essential to humanistic scholarship (classical Latin, Greek, and Hebrew), was founded by a legacy from a wealthy royal official. The Dutch humanist Erasmus, who resided in Louvain from 1517 to 1521, played an advisory role in founding the new institute and recruiting its earliest faculty. The faculties of arts and theology resisted the incorporation of the new college into the university, but within a few years it had become an important part of the school, confirming and strengthening the reputation of Louvain as an excellent center for humanistic education.
   After 1517, professors from the faculty of theology played an important role in the struggle against the spread of Protestant doctrines in the Habsburg Netherlands. While the university suffered during the religious strife and civil wars of the later 16th century, it recovered its importance as a leading Catholic institution during the 17th century.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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