Zoran Dimic

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This treatise is an attempt to shed some light on the origins of the University of Bologna. The Bolognese University did not appear as a result of someone’s deliberate founding act to improve medieval education, but as a result of quite specific cultural, economic and political circumstances. The founding of the university had something to do with the interests and privileges of its students. The City of Bologna was not only a formal framework and just a particular place for the university. The city and the university developed together and influenced and changed each other. At the same time, there was a deep gap between them. Since the majority of the Bolognese students were not from Bologna, but from various Italian and European cities, we can say that the majority of the law students in Bologna were alliens. Since most of the students found themselves in a precarious legal situation, being a Bolognese student had its disadvantages. In order to protect themselves against all of the disadvantages, the students first banded together in “nations” according to their ethnic and geographical origins, and later on into two universitates. In the simplest terms, we can argue that universities were originally the guilds of aliens, i.e. the corporations of foreign students. United in such a way, they could bargain more effectively with the city government, they could negotiate better rents and books prices. From the very beginning of its history, the European university was not only exposed to the political context of the cities and states, but to the economic circumstances too. The outcome of this strong collision was a long history of alien secession and migration to other cities, where they founded new universities. It was a way to spread the idea of the university and education in the Middle Ages.


University of Bologna, origin, nations, universitas, privileges, migrations.

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