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The University of Turin

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The University of Turin was founded in 1404, when the lectures at Piacenza and Pavia were interrupted by the wars of Lombardy. Some of the professors of theology, medicine, and arts at Piacenza obtained permission from Louis of Savoy-Acaia to continue their courses at Turin. This prince had obtained from the antipope Benedict XIII, in 1405, the pontifical privilege for a studium generale, and in 1412 the permission of the emperor was likewise granted. In the following year John XXIII confirmed the concessions of Benedict XIII rendered necessary by the wars which had disturbed the studium of Turin. The studium then comprised three faculties: theology, law (canon and civil), medicine (with arts and philosophy). The Archbishop of Turin was always chancellor of the university. As at Bologna, the rector continued for a long time to be chosen from their own body by the students, who in 1679 represented thirteen nations. The professors' salaries were paid by the communes of Savoy; but from 1420 the clergy also contributed, and at a later period the dukes. In the seventeenth century the university levied a tax on the Jews. Under Duke Amedo VIII, the State began to restrict the autonomy of the studium by means of riformatori and subjected the professors and students in criminal matters to ordinary jurisdiction. From 1427 to 1436 the seat of the university was temporarily transferred to Chieri and Savignano (1434). The number of salaried professors in the years 1456 and 1533 was twenty-five (only two of theology), but the number of lecturers was much greater; e.g., in the statutes of the theological faculty (1427-36) nineteen masters — eleven Franciscans and eight Dominicans — are named. Among the distinguished Professors of that age were the jurisconsult Claudio Beisello, a noted translator of many Greek classics, Pietro Carol Cristoforo Castiglione e Grassi, the physician Guainiero, and the theologian Francesco della Rovere, afterwards Sixtus IV.

In 1536 the university was closed, owing to the Franco-Spanish war in Piedmont; in 1560 it was re-established at Mondovì by Duke Emanuele Filiberto back to Turin, with laws permitting increasing state interference in the affairs of the university. Ut acquired a great reputation, which, however declined under Charles Emanmuel I (1580-1630), who, owing to the expenses of the wars, had to suspend his financial contributions to the Studium. In the seventeenth century the officials of the respective nations granted the students the right to interrupt the professors' lectures. Studies naturally languished. In 1687 there were 3 professors of theology, 13 of law, 10 of medicine, 6 of arts. The art course did not then include the belles-lettres, which were taught in the Jesuit college. Victor Amedeo II granted a new constitution to the university (1720-29), which thence forward was a purely state institution; he also had the present building erected after the design of Gio. Antonio Ricca. A royal official was appointed to supervise the observance of the Statutes and to act as a censor of books. From 1729 the rector was chosen from among the professors. At the same time the Collegio delle Provincie was established for students not natives of Turin. The statutes contained a regulation strictly obliging the students to be present in the oratory of the university on holy days of obligation. On the other hand, the king ordered the professors of theology to observe neutrality concerning Gallicanism.

At the beginning of the French Revolution the university declined rapidly; the school of anatomy, for instance became a political club. Under Napoleon (1800-14) the studies were reorganized according to french methods; several new chairs were established, and the revival in this sense was continued by Prospero Balbo. In 1821 the students, under the impulse of the constitutional movement, rebelled, and severe measures were adopted. Lectures were continued outside of the university. In the third decade of the nineteenth century there were notable agitations in the theological faculty in favour of papal infallibility, and agitations brought about by the moralist Dettorri, who was afterwards exiled. During the Revolution of July 1830, the university was closed, and the schools dispersed among different cities. In 1845 the curriculum was re-organized. In the theological faculty chairs of ecclesiastical history, oratory, and Biblical exegesis were established. In 1860 this faculty was, here as elsewhere, abolished.

Among the distinguished professors of Turin since the sixteenth century the jurist Gian Francesco Balbo and the physician Giovanni Nevizzano are worthy of mention; after the restoration of the university, the jurists Cuiacius and Pancirolus, the physicians Blessed Giovenale Ancina (afterwards Bishop of Saluzzo) and Lucille Filalteo; the Greek scholar Teodoro Rendio, was called to the Collegio Greco by Gregory XIII. Distinguished in the eighteenth century were Vincenzo Gravina and Luigi Fantoni the jurisconsults, the Augustinian Giulio Accetta in mathematics, the Piarist Giambattista Beecaria, in physics, the Barnabite Sigismondo Gerdil, in ethics, Giambattista Carburi and Vitaliano Donati in medicine, the historian Carlo Denino, and Francesco Antonio Chionio, the professor of canon law whose work "De regimine ecclesiae" caused scandal by reducing all religion to internal worship, and leaving the control of the Church to the civil power; in the nineteenth century: Father Peyron, professor of Oriental languages a celebrated Egyptologist, the philologists Vallauri and Fabretti, the mathematician and physicist Galileo Ferrari, the historian Balbo, the physiologist Cesare Lombroso. The university has 22 chairs of jurisprudence with 18 professors and 20 docents; 24 chairs of physical and mathematical sciences with 17 professors and 17 docents; 28 chairs of medicine with 25 professors and 89 docents; 22 chairs of philosophy and literature with 19 professors and 21 docents. In connection with the medical faculty are a school of pharmacy, various clinics, laboratories, etc., as well as the laboratories, cabinets, and astronomical observatory of the other scientific faculties. In 1910-11 there were 2204 students enrolled.


Annuario della Universita di Torino (1876); VALLAURI, Storia delle Università degli Studi in Piemonte (Turin, 1875); BONA, Delle constituzioni dell' Università di Torino (Turin, 1852).

About this page

APA citation. Benigni, U. (1912). The University of Turin. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Benigni, Umberto. "The University of Turin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Jeffrey L. Anderson.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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