La Sorbonne: A History


La Sorbonne: A Famous University

What is la Sorbonne and what makes it so prestigious? Is it because it has been around for centuries? Is it because it has been home to many intellectuals? Is it because of its method of teaching? Usually if you say that you've attended the Sorbonne, people from around the world will be in awe. You don't have to be Parisian to understand the significance of attending this university, so what is its history?

13th Century Beginnings

The college was founded in 1257, though its beginnings may have been linked to the 12th Century as well. It was founded by Robert de Sorbon, hence the name, Sorbonne. Robert de Sorbon wanted to provide free lessons for students.

Religious Wars

The Sorbonne became to focal point for the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. La Sorbonne was mainly under Catholic control and held many Catholic ideals, so it did not see eye to eye with Francois Ier, a Protestant-tolerant king. Eventually the university was placed under Protestant control, but that only lasted for a year.

The Pantheon

Closed for Revolution

During the French Revolution, la Sorbonne was closed. Robespierre turned the chapel into the "Temple of Reason." Since the Sorbonne was the main theological university of Paris, and the French Revolution wanted to rid itself of religion and replace it with reason, the Sorbonne was forced to close its teachings for a few years. Napoleon restored it in 1808, but it could not match its former success, so the theology department was closed in 1882 in an effort to separate church and state once more.

1968 Protest

The school closed in 1968 due to conflict between the students and the authorities. So on May 3rd, students and faculty marched to protest the closure, which led to police responding with batons and students building barricades. The Latin Quarter was barricaded by cars, cobblestones, and anything they could use to keep the police back. After hundreds of students were arrested, the population went on strike so that the Sorbonne could be reopened. When it was reopened, it was declared the "People's University."

You Might Also Like


Comments? Questions? Advice? Let me know: