Charles University

The oldest university in central Europe, Charles University was founded on April 7th. 1348 by Charles IV, then Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. From its foundation it was devoted to studia generalia and it was endowed by the emperor with all the privileges enjoyed by older European universities. In accordance with medieval conceptions of the academic range of a complete university, the newly established university had four faculties - Theology, Law, Medicine and Arts.

Soon after its foundation Prague university - especially through the activities of Magister Jan Hus - developed links with the medieval intellectual movements which were calling for reform in church and society. The destiny of Prague university was always closely connected with the destiny of the Czech state and people, not only in the Hussite period but also in the following centuries. The defeat of the Bohemian Estates in 1620 and the consequences of the Thirty Years War meant the forced re-catholicisation of Prague university. A single university with four faculties - Charles-Ferdinand University - was created out of the arts faculty of Charles University ( the only faculty surviving after the period of Hussite Wars) and the Jesuit Clementine Academy which had already been founded in the mid-sixteenth century as a counterweight to the non-Catholic institution. This university, despite the repression, remained a centre of education and scholarship and its existence acted as a stimulus for Czech national consciousness. The mid-eighteenth century saw the gradual introduction of enlightened reforms and this process culminated at the end of the century when even non-catholics were granted the right to study. At the same time German replaced Latin as the language of instruction. In 1848, the year of revolutions, Prague university once again found itself at the centre of national, democratic and revolutionary upheaval. The subsequent period of absolutism under minister Bach saw the repression of the democratic student movement and the dismantling of a whole series of liberal reforms.

Other Curiosities

Charles IV

Magister Jan Hus