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University of Louvain

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In order to restore the splendour of Louvain, capital of his Duchy of Brabant, John IV of the House of Burgundy petitioned the papal authority for the establishment of an educational institution called at the time studium generale. The Bull of Martin V, dated 9 December, 1425, was the result. This Bull, in founding the university, prescribed also that the prince should give it advantages and privileges. In its early days, however, the university was incomplete. It was only in 1431 that Eugene IV created the faculty of theology. Louvain had the character of a studium generale, i.e., it had the right to receive students from all parts of the world, and the degree of doctor which it conferred gave the right to teach anywhere. Popes and princes vied with one another in granting the university important privileges and establishing endowments to provide for its needs and development. The organization of the university and its history have been recorded by many annalists. The manuscripts preserved in the archives amply complete the literary sources, although the entire history of the university has not yet been written. From any point of view that may be taken, the history and description of the university admit of an important division, the regime from 1425 to 1797 being quite different from that adopted at the time of the restoration in 1834.

First period (1425-1797)

The ancient university constituted a juridical body enjoying a large measure of autonomy. The arrangement of the programme of studies and the conferring of degrees were among its prerogatives; it had jurisdiction and disciplinary powers over its members. Its constitution was elective; the authority of the rector was conferred for three months, then for six, by delegates of the faculties, each one holding in turn the rectoral office. The faculties organized after the foundation of the theological faculty comprised those of law (civil and canon), medicine, and arts. The scope of the latter was very broad, including the physical and mathematical sciences, philosophy, literature, and history. It covered everything contained in the trivium and quadrivium of the Middle Ages; it was an encyclopedic faculty. The university profited by the increasing power of the sovereigns of Brabant, dukes of Burgundy, afterwards princes of Habsburg, Austria, and Spain. The imperial splendour of Charles V contributed greatly to its prosperity, owing to the important position of the Netherlands among the nations of Europe. Doubtless, too, it felt the effects of the civil and foreign wars, which devastated these provinces; its material and scientific interests suffered considerably, but for all that, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was one of the strongest intellectual centres of the West. The princes had contributed to the influence exerted by Louvain by giving it a university monopoly; for, fearing the influence of the doctrines taught in other countries, the Farnese Government forbade young Belgians to study in foreign universities, as many of them had been doing until that time. It is true that this rule permitted exceptions for worthy motives. On the other hand, to provide for the southern provinces, Philip II had brought about the establishment of an affiliated university at Douai, which was soon to rival the parent institution and share its privileges. The faculties of Louvain did not confine themselves to oral teaching in optional courses. Various institutions sprang up about the university. More than forty colleges received students of various groups provided with special means. Special chairs were created, for instance, in the sixteenth century, the celebrated "College of the Three Languages" founded by Busleiden. In these colleges (Lys, Porc, Chateau, Faucon) courses were given and a very keen competition for academic honours sprang up among them. The students were also grouped according to nationalities, e.g., the German nation, the Brabantine nation, etc.

In the ancient university, the faculty of law occupied a dominant position. Its course of studies, however, offers no features characteristic of that period. Founded at the time when Roman law was beginning to assert its supremacy in Europe, the faculty of Louvain remained a stanch exponent of its principles. Here as in France, it is possible to distinguish various periods, but the reaction brought about in that country by the school of Cujas was not equally strong in Belgium with Mude and his disciples in the sixteenth century. Roman law reigned almost supreme in the lecture-halls; even during the formation of national law, while the up-building of this law was everywhere in process, it found no place in the teaching of the university. It was only in exceptional cases that certain subjects succeeded in obtaining recognition. The jurists of Louvain, however, exercised a tremendous influence. Indeed they soon filled the tribunals and the councils. Administration and judiciary drew their jurisprudence from the sources in the university; magistrates and officials studied under the teachers at Louvain, and sometimes the teachers themselves were called to these high positions. And thus the law developed under their inspiration. When the period of compilations (such as those of customary and princely laws) began in the seventeenth century, the jurists of Louvain lavished on the work the result of their learning and experience. The perpetual edict on the reform of justice issued in 1611, marks a memorable epoch in this respect. The situation became still more tense when in 1617 a rule was adopted requiring for eligibility to membership in the councils of justice, and even for admission to the bar, the completion of a course of studies in a university in the Netherlands. In this scheme, the teaching of Roman law had a large place; it was regarded as the scientific element, but it served in practice to mould and co-ordinate, not to destroy the living law of national custom. While one preserved the theoretical primacy, the other was in actual control, and it is from their union realized in studies and edicts that the written national law came forth. Influential in all that pertained to law as such, the jurists of Louvain had also a strong political influence. Under the old regime justice and administration were not divided. Then, the highest governmental offices were almost always entrusted to experienced jurists who held diplomas from Louvain. The jurists of Louvain, brought up in the spirit of Byzantine law, were somewhat imbued with royalist theories; however, although serving the prince, they showed a decided preference for the limited monarchy. They certainly consolidated and enlarged the princely power, but they did not favour an absolute monarchy. The national opposition to the royal power, which had become too foreign in character, undoubtedly met among the legists adversaries so far as these helped powerfully to create the mechanism of the princely state; but if a number were hostile to the old privileges of the provinces, the theory of absolute royalty found no representative among them even in the seventeenth century. It is only in the eighteenth century that royalist conceptions took on greater importance at Louvain, without, however, becoming predominant. The history of these conceptions has been sketched in a volume of the faculty of law indicated below. If the faculty of law exercised a far-reaching influence in the inner life of the university, the faculty of arts shed a more brilliant light. There we find the illustrious group of Humanists who for a century and a half give Louvain an international fame; it becomes one of the scientific centres of the literary Renaissance which so largely developed the knowledge of letters and history and gave a new impetus to many branches of learning, but which was also marked by the ferment of many dangerous germs and hazardous ideas. Louvain is in the very heart of this literary movement, and, apart from the subtle trifling with ideas which endangered orthodoxy, reference must be made, and often with well-deserved praise, to the brilliant phalanx of linguists, philologists, and historians gathered at the university. There we find a succession of names which adorn the literary annals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the history of which has been written in part by Félix Nève ("La Renaissance des lettres en Belgique", Louvain, 1890), a work which is being gradually brought to completion, especially by the writings of Professor Roersen, of Ghent. The ancient languages ruled over this domain, the Oriental and Graeco-Latin studies occupying a prominent place. It is particularly through this faculty that Louvain shed its lustre beyond the Netherlands. If its jurists were well known, its philologists were even more famous. Besides, literary Humanism formed a vast international association for fine cultural study, and intercourse between teachers was supplemented by the journeys of their disciples. Louvain had a distinguished reputation in this world of letters; it was the Athens of Belgium. The English Catholic Humanists, such as Thomas More, found there a happy refuge during the persecution. At the end of the sixteenth century, the name of Justus Lipsius, poor as a philosopher and statesman, but great as a philologist, sums up this prestige of classical lore, of which he stands out as the culminating point, forming with Casaubon and Scaliger the "triumvirate" of European Humanism. Distinguished names abound, but that of Clenard, the Arabist, is entitled to special mention. Thomissen and Roersch have written the life of this indomitable scholar. Moreover, the study of letters permeated the other sciences and the professors of law were Humanists as well.

But, as we know, the faculty of arts does not consist wholly of linguistic and philological studies; it includes the natural and mathematical sciences in close connection with philosophy. Without attempting to treat its history and controversies, it may suffice to note that in the sixteenth century, geometry, astronomy, and geography found at Louvain celebrated professors who paved the way for the practical achievements of Antwerpian cartography. Adrian Romanus and Gemma Frisius are its accredited representatives. The Cartesian disputes of the seventeenth century gave rise to heated controversies, the stirring history of which has been related by Georges Minchamp (Le Cartésianisme en Belgique, 1886). The same is true of the system of Copernicus and the trials of Galileo (Monchamp, "Galilée et la Belgique", Brussels, 1892). The eighteenth century brings the name of Minckelers, who invented illuminating gas. Within the last few years several monuments have been erected to him at Maastricht and at Louvain, and Professor Dewalque, of Louvain, has written his biography. The history of each science will not be related here, as it should properly be left to specialists. This in particular is true as regards the faculty of medicine. It may be stated, however, that although few in number this faculty grouped in its midst and about it powerful elements of progress. Vesalius and Van Helmont worked at Louvain; Réga was an authority in surgery in the eighteenth century, and there are many illustrious names close to these shining lights, a list of which has recently been made by Dr. Masoin, of Louvain.

Belonging to a very different order in virtue of its high mission stands the faculty of theology. The task of treating its doctrines lies beyond the scope of this article. As a whole its history is one of fruitful activity to which its numerous productions bear witness. It was disturbed by the currents of thought which agitated religious doctrine throughout the world, but it vigorously resisted Protestantism. The errors which sprang from its bosom through the teaching of Baius and Jansenius caused serious anxiety during the entire seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century the influence of Febronianism and Josephinism was strongly felt, without, however, ever becoming predominant in the faculty. The theological teaching, from the end of the seventeenth century onwards, was based upon that of the scholastics, the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas having replaced those of Peter Lombard. Special scholastic chairs were added through the initiative of the princes. Among its illustrious teachers we shall name but one: Adrian Floris, tutor of Charles V, later Cardinal of Utrecht, and finally pope under the name of Adrian VI (1522). To him is due the foundation of a university college which still bears its name.

The statutes of the university had been modified several times, but the laura doctoralis was throughout the crowning feature of the studies. The doctorate ceremonies were not alike in all the faculties nor were they the only ones observed in the university; but the conferring of degrees was always a considerable event accompanied with festivities academical, gastronomical, and public. Not only did solemn processions pass through the town, but these were repeated in each community according to a traditional ritual both complicated and onerous. These functions were commemorated in verse, tableaux, stories and are perpetuated in the nation's memory. Except for well-justified retrenchments, the custom has been maintained in certain doctorates, the conferring of which still preserves the festive form and the public procession. Certain competitions in the faculty of arts roused great interest. At the conclusion of each competition the candidates were graded; the "Primus" in the first "line" became from that fact an important personage, an honour to his family and city.

It goes without saying that the student body of Louvain was not given exclusively to study. The police of the university and the rectoral tribunal who had jurisdiction over the entire academic body occasionally had very difficult cases to handle. During the civil wars the habits of the young men had not become any more peaceful. If it happened that in the sixteenth century they rendered Louvain the great service of saving it from being taken and pillaged by armed bands, on the other hand their rapier often endangered public peace. Unfortunately we have but few facts concerning the student life of the period, although one of our historians, Poullet, has written an interesting sketch (see "Revue catholique", Louvain, 1867). Certain articles of the statutes constituted the disciplinary code relating to the violation of university regulations, and during the stormy times of civil struggles and general warfare, the academic tribunal had all it could do to keep the restless student throng in order. Studies at the university went through various phases. For a long time they were under the exclusive jurisdiction of the university body itself. But in the midst of civil disturbances, certain weaknesses and defects of organization became apparent, and these the authorities endeavoured to remedy. At the beginning of the seventeenth century an important fact is to be noted: the investigation and reform of 1617. In union with Paul V, and after a careful examination the sovereign archdukes published new university statutes. Thenceforth the programme of studies and the conferring of degrees was minutely provided for. Moreover, the diploma of studies and examinations was generally required for the professions of law and of medicine. The new regulation contributed to the uplifting of the standard of instruction. There were still defects and omissions, however, and the wars during the reign of Louis XIV were not conducive to academic work. But there was considerable activity in the way of publication, notwithstanding the complaints of the Government on the score of discipline.

The seventeenth century cannot be looked upon as a period of decay for the university, as there are noted names and numerous scholarly productions. True, ancient literature no longer had the brilliancy given it by Justus Lipsius up to 1606, but here were very distinguished jurists, noted Humanists (like Putiamus). The attraction exerted by Louvain was still very great. In fact it was only towards the middle of the seventeenth century that the natio germanica, which comprised a succession of distinguished names form various parts of the empire, was officially established. Louvain was celebrated and many studied there in preference to the Protestant universities of Germany and Holland (Wils, "L'illustre natio germanique", Louvain, 1909). Publications, Belgian bibliographies of various kinds flourished; the "Bibliotheca Belgica" in important and numerous volumes did honour to the publishing houses, especially to the celebrated printing house of Plantin and Moretus at Antwerp. Through its teachers and its influence, Louvain had a very large sphere in their activity. Even more than the seventeenth century the eighteenth, hitherto scarcely known, has been represented as one of decadence for the university. One may be surprised at this, since from 1756 at least, owing to the reconciliation of the Habsburgs and the Bourbons, the country enjoyed perfect peace under the apparently easy-going administration of Prince Charles of Louvain. But in reality, if there were some shortcomings, the imputation of decay got its principal emphasis from the Austrian Government itself. The princely authorities followed a policy which met with strong opposition, especially in ecclesiastical matters. The ministers from Vienna expected to find political tools in the university faculties and did not succeed. On the other hand, there was reason to regard the programme of studies as out of date in some respects. There was a certain amount of routine. The faculty of law especially confined itself to the teaching of Roman law, and this was clearly no longer sufficient for the training of young jurists. And such was the case in other branches. It is certainly a matter of regret that the two questions, the academic and the political, were linked together.

In seeking to impregnate the university with centralizing and royalist ideas the Austrian ministers and particularly the Marquis of Nony, the commissioner attached to the university, practically defeated the attempt to reform the programme of studies. It was rightly considered that war was declared against the university privileges, the national traditions, and the religious rights of the Church. It was on this account and also because of the opinions of the professors appointed that the creation of a course in public law, so useful in itself, twice failed. Verhaegen, in his "Histoire des cinquante dernières annees de Pancienne universite" (1884) has shown how, even in the eighteenth century, the university had still a creditable scientific existence, and, on the other hand, how bravely it resisted the encroachments made upon it by the Government. The conflict between the Government and the university reached an acute crisis under the reign of Emperor Joseph II, who wished to force the professors to adopt his royalist theories. Some of them yielded, but many resisted, particularly when the emperor, on his own authority and in disregard of the right of the Church, attempted to impose a general seminary on the university. This struggle resulted in the suspension and exile of a number of professors, whilst those who supported the Government began teaching in Brussels, as they could not remain at Louvain. The crisis was consequently a violent one and entirely to the credit of the university. It ceased only with the end of the Josephinist regime. The National Conservative Government reopened the university in 1790 and recalled the exiles. Unfortunately this tempest was but the forerunner of another which was to last longer. In 1792 the Netherlands were occupied by the French Republican troops and officially annexed by the Convention in 1795. The existence of the university, its privileges and its teachings were incompatible with the regime of the new teachers. In 1797 the university was suppressed; its scientific property fell into the hands of the spoilers; the whole institution was ruined for a long time by this fury of destruction.

Second period (1834-1909)

After an interval marked by the establishment of a state university under the Dutch Government of 1815, the episcopate of Belgium decided to create a free Catholic institution of higher education. The Constitution of independent Belgium had proclaimed freedom of education, and advantage was taken of this with daring initiative. Gregory XVI sanctioned the project. First opened at Mechlin, the university, at the request of the city of Louvain, was transferred the following year to the buildings of the old Alma Mater and thus took up again the historical succession. The pope of 1834 revived the work of his predecessor of 1425. The restored university is a free university. Its administration, its teaching, and its budget are independent of the state. The episcopate controls the institution and appoints its head, the Rector Magnificus. The latter governs with the assistance of a rectoral council composed of the deans of the five faculties (theology, law, medicine, philosophy, letters) and of a few other members. The professors are appointed by the bishops on presentation of the rector; grouped into faculties they elect their dean for one year or for two. The vice-rector, whose special charge is to watch over the students, also assists the rector and takes his place when necessary; within recent years the latter has also been given an assistant. In principle the university organizes its teaching and regulates its scientific degrees as it sees fit. Practical necessities have set limits not to its rights, but to the use of those rights. While respecting the freedom of teaching, the State has prescribed examination requirements for the practice of certain professions; the programme of these examinations is fixed by law. The state universities must necessarily conform to it; the free universities comply with it in order to secure the legal professional advantages for their diplomas. The Government, moreover, faithful in its interpretation of liberty, deals with the free universities just as it deals with its own. The diplomas awarded have the same value on the same conditions; viz., efficiency in the prescribed minimum of academic work, this efficiency being guaranteed through the supervision of a commission specially appointed for the purpose. In no case does this supervision operate as a control or restriction on the methods or tendencies of the teaching itself, for that would suppress liberty. Under these minimum requirements the universities themselves confer the legal degrees. Until 1876 it was the work of a jury, either central or mixed. Since then the freedom of teaching has been made complete and has been extended to the conferring of degrees. The university, therefore, has free action guaranteed by the Constitution and its exercise is sanctioned by the laws.

Besides the official programme of legal studies, the university develops as it best pleases the various branches of special teaching. This development has been considerable. The University of Louvain has had a large share in the scientific movement of the country. "Le Movement scientifique en Belgique", a recent and important publication from the department of sciences and arts, enables one to judge of the prominent place it occupies in all the branches. The University of Louvain is the only one in Belgium that has a theological faculty, and this faculty is Catholic in virtue of the fundamental principle of the institution itself. The doctorate, which requires six years of extra study after the completion of the seminary course is an academic event. It is not conferred every year, but the series of dissertations is already important. The American College, treated in another article of this "Encyclopedia", is connected with this faculty. The non-ecclesiastic faculties have also grown considerably and numerous foundations of institutes and special chairs have been added. As a necessary result of contemporary discoveries, the technical sciences have taken on a large expansion, and the ancient faculties of law and philosophy have shared in the development.

Before giving an outline of the work of the university it is well to say a word regarding its character. For a long time, as was everywhere else the case, the auditive, receptive method prevailed. This is no longer so. The constant effort is to stimulate love of work and personal initiative, especially among the students who show ability. These earnest workers are increasing in number, for they find within their reach both instruments and methods. The preference for research has thus become quite marked, particularly during the past twenty-five years. University work is not at all, then, a mere preparation for a profession. On the part of the professors it is serious scientific investigation; and so it is with the students who are being carefully directed along the same lines. As a consequence, the courses of study, the institutes, the special courses, the seminaries (in the German sense of the word, practical courses), the publications, competitions, collections are steadily increasing. The list of university institutes and the bibliography are very important. On various occasions, and especially in 1900 and 1908, there has been published a very complete and instructive account which makes up a large volume. Activity ont he part of the professors and personal collaboration of student and teachers are therefore characteristic features of the present condition of university life.

As we have already pointed out, one must distinguish two groups of studies and diplomas. Some are primarily professional; they pave the way to a lucrative career. They have a scientific basis and the work is serious; but among the auditors there are quite a number who wish to do the least amount of work possible. Then there are the special scientific courses, among which may be ranked certain professional courses, for instance those preparatory to teaching. The professional diplomas regulated by state laws are chiefly those of doctor in medicine, surgery, and obstetrics, pharmacy, doctor in law, notary, the doctor in philosophy and letters (especially with a view to teaching languages and history), in natural sciences, mathematics, mining and civil engineering. It is not possible to analyse here the courses leading to these diplomas, as this would involve the entire history of higher professional teaching. Side by side with these programmes is a series of specialties, the importance of which is indicated by the titles: doctorate in social and political, or political and diplomatic sciences; commercial or colonial sciences; higher philosophy; moral and historical sciences; archaeology; Oriental literature and languages (Semitic or Indo-European). The historical and linguistic doctorates are, as aforementioned, professional also. Further, there is a doctorate in natural sciences, mathematics, and their special branches. Then there are a few free professional diplomas, not regulated by law: agriculture, engineering, architecture, arts and manufactures, electricity, etc.

As will be readily understood, this development of the work has brought about a corresponding increase in the teaching staff and a parcelling out of specialties into a large number of institutes. Doubtless, too, the unification of all branches of study is advantageous in the way of contact and co-operation; and while each of the various branches preserves its autonomy, the work of the university as a whole is also very fruitful. These institutes are quite numerous; it will be sufficient to name a few. The higher philosophical institute (Institut superieur de philosophie), due to the initiative of Pope Leo XIII, is based on the teachings of St. Thomas of Aquin. It was organized by Professor Mercier, head of the school of neo-scholastic philosophy, and now Cardinal Archbishop of Mechlin. His works are known the world over, among them "La Revue Néo-Scolastique", of which he is the founder. The schools of political and social sciences (L'Ecole des sciences politiques et sociales) annexed to the faculty of law and due to the initiative of the minister of State, Professor van den Heuvel, has produced an important series of publications, and has added to its courses conferences of a practical character. The institute of agriculture (L'Institut supérieur d'agronomie), as well as the commercial, consular, and colonial school (L'Ecole commerciale, consulaire et coloniale), prepares students for careers in these several lines. The historical and linguistic lectures have grown steadily in importance, thanks to professors such as Jungmann, Moeller, Collard, and Cauchie. The latter is publishing, with the present rector, P. Ladeuze, the well-known "Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique". Particular mention must be made of a branch of teaching which is not organized in a distinct school, but which has here an important development; it is that of the Oriental languages (Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Coptic), distributed in various faculties, and for which there is a special diploma.

The various schools and institutes, provided with libraries, apparatus, etc., familiarize the student with methods of study under the immediate supervision of masters. They are also centres of scientific production; we have already mentioned the importance of the bibliography of the university (Bibliographie des travaux universitaires), the catalogue of which has been published. These publications include a series of periodicals which carry abroad the work of Louvain and bring back in exchange the productions of the outside world. There are about thirty of these periodicals published by the professors of Louvain, and more than one thousand are received in exchange from other sources. Among these reviews may be mentioned: "La Revue Néo-Scholastique" and "La Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique", which have already been noticed; "La Revue Social Catholique" and "La Revue Catholiquede Droit" (all four from the philosophical institute); "La Revue Médicale" (Double); "La Cellule" (review of biology, founded by Carnoy); "La Névrose" (review of neurology, founded by Van Gehuchten); the "Bulletins" of the schools of engineering, commerce, agriculture, and electricity; "Le Musée Belge" (pedagogy); "La Muséon" (Philology and Oriental sciences); "Revue des Sociétés Commerciales", etc. To the above might be added collections that do not appear regularly, but which form important series, such as the historical and philological conferences; and the publications of the school of political sciences; the collection of the ancient philosophers of Belgium (M. de Wulf), and that of the old English dramas (Bang). Frequently, too, the professors bring out their students' work in foreign magazines not under their direction, and in the bulletins of various academies. The list of these is to be found in the university bibliography. An idea may thus be formed of the activity of men like Louis Henry (chemistry) and J. Denys (bacteriology), who prefer this mode of publication.

Besides these lines of work, there are others in which professors and students do not work absolutely side by side; others in which the teacher's role ceases to be that of immediate instruction, and becomes one of assistance and supervision. The conferences on history and social economy are really courses of teaching, where the students work under the constant supervision of the professor with an increasing amount of individuality. The "circle" in apologetics created by the present rector comprises expositions by professors, at times by students-along with questions and solutions of the difficulties presented by the study of religious subjects. Elsewhere the student does his work independently, and submits his results for discussion by his comrades. The role of the presiding professor becomes a very uneven one and is, at times, purely external. It then becomes rather a matter of exercises between students, very useful and very commendable, but of quite another kind. There are quite a number of clubs in the various faculties, where the professor plays a very active part as inspirer, guide, adviser. Among the other ones which have rendered great services are: "Le cercle industriel", "L'emulation", "Le cercle d'études sociales", the Flemish society "Tyd en Vlyt", and, more recently, "La société philosophique", "Le cerele agronomique", and various literary and social clubs.

Since Belgium gained its independence, Louvain has almost always been represented in Parliament and very often in the Cabinet Councils. Professor Delcour and Professor Thonissen were ministers of the Interior on which depended the department of Education; and today Professor Baron Descamps is minister of science; several had other portfolios; notably Nyssens, who in 1897 established the department of labour. But Louvain does not seek merely to turn out professional men and scientists; it aims at making men and Christians of its students; that is one of its fundamental characteristics. The influence over the spirit and mode of living of its young men is far-reaching. It is exerted through the teaching itself, without departing from scientific accuracy, but on the contrary proving by it the harmony between science and faith. It is extended by the action of different groups and by personal initiative. Furthermore, there are many societies of a distinctly moral and religious nature appealing to the life and character of youth: religious reunions, organizations for instruction, apostleship, pious and charitable enterprises, such as the Eucharistic adoration, Catholic missions, the Christian Press, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, school for adult workingmen. Nor is physical development overlooked, and there are fine equipments for the various sports. The university has a strong bond of unity; its moral force is incontestably the most powerful element of its vitality. The relations between professors and students still continue when the university days are over, and the majority retain their attachment to the Alma Mater. The Alumni associations are one of the outward signs; the permanence of personal relations is even more telling.

To complete this sketch of Louvain something must be said about the student life. Owing to the limited territory of the country, to the many easy and inexpensive means of communication, many students are enabled to return home every day. They are called navettes in the college slang. The others live at Louvain, some (about 200) in the university colleges (convictus), supervised by one of the professors as president, where for a moderate sum (about 700 francs) they are given full board. Others live with citizens of the town, usually occupying two rooms. A very large number go away and spend Sunday with their families, and this is encouraged. The academic years allows for quite a number of vacations. It begins about the third week in October with the Mass of the Holy Ghost. There is a fortnight's vacation at Christmas, three weeks at Easter; the lectures cease on 25 June. The month of July and the first part of October are devoted to examinations. During their sojourn at Louvain the students lead a life which though serious may be varied and agreeable. There are the numberous clubs previously mentioned; also, friendly societies grouped by cities and provinces, and it is easy for the students to have daily reunions. Notwithstanding all the sources of distraction it seems that the work of the average student is improving. It is quite evident also that the better class of students is becoming more and more select, while social gradations are more clearly and more securely defined.

This sketch of the university life of Louvain would be incomplete if we did not add a few statistical elements. "L'Annuaire", a valuable volume published regularly by the university authorities, records the events and achievements of each year and is indispensable as a means of studying the activity and growth of Louvain. Number of students in 1834, 86; 1854, 600; 1874, 1160; 1894, 1636; 1904, 2148. Distribution in 1908: theology, 125; law, 491; medicine, 475; philosophy, 313; sciences, 286; special schools, 570: total 2260. In this total were 252 foreigners: 29 from the United States, 5 from Canada, 13 from South America, 7 from England, 6 from Ireland. The corps of instructors numbered 120 in active service holding various positions: full professors, associates, lecturers, substitutes. Among the eminent professors of the university since the restoration in 1834 we select for mention the following deceased: In theology: Beelen (Oriental languages, Scripture), Jungmann (ecclesiastical history), Malou (Bishop of Bruges), Lamy (Oriental languages, Syriac, etc., Scripture), Reussens (archaeology, history). In law: de Coux and Périn (political economy), Thonissen (criminal law), Nyssens (commercial law). In philosophy and letters: Arendt, David, Moeller, Poullet (history), Nève, de Harlez (Oriental literature), Willems (philology and history). In physical sciences and mathematics: Gilbert (mathematics), de la Vallée Poussin (geology), Van Beneden (zoology), Carnoy (biology). In medicine: Schwann, Craninex, Michaux, van Kempen, Hubert, Lefébvre. Charles Cartuyvels, vice-rector for over twenty-five years, was far-famed for his pulpit eloquence. The rectors during the modern period were seven in number: P.J. de Ram, a very prolific historian; N.J. Laforêt; A.J. Namêche, Belgium's historian; C. Pieraerts; J.B. Abbeloos, orientalist; Ad. Hebbelynk, another orientalist who has recently been succeeded in the rectorate by a colleague of the same department, P. Ladeuze, appointed in July, 1909.


The bibliography of the university is very extensive and it is impossible to quote it in full. There are both ancient sources and recent writings with regard to the old university, among the former being the works of MOLANUS; VALERIUS-ANDREAS; VERNULAEUS; VAN LANGENDONCK; VAN DE VELDE, and numerous manuscript documents, notably a portion of the "Acta of the faculties. These sources are indicated in the modern works mentioned below, although unfortunately a general history of the university has not yet been written. The chief source of the history of the restored university is its own Annuaire; since 1900 there has also been published regularly the Bibliographie de l'Universite, in which there is a sections indicating the contributions to the history of the institution. Universite Catholique de Louvain, Annuaire (73 vols., Louvain, 1837-1909); Universite Catholique de Louvain, Bibliographie de l'Universite (Louvain, 1900-8), L'Universite de Louvain, Coup d'oeil sur son histoire et ses institutions (Brussels, 1900); VERHAEGEN, Les cinquante dernieres annees de l'ancienne universite de Louvain (Ghent, 1884); BRANTS, La faculte de droit a Louvain a travers cinq siecles (Louvain, 1906); NEVE, REUSSENS, and DE RAM numerous works mentioned in the Bibliography of the university under their names; Liber memorialis, or report of the jubilee celebrations of the restoration of the university in 1884 and 1909 (Louvain, 1884, 1909).

About this page

APA citation. Brants, V. (1910). University of Louvain. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Brants, Victor. "University of Louvain." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the faculty and students of Louvain.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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