Universität Wien An Historical Tour of the University of Vienna

Archiv der Universität Wien



Students in the Middle Ages were considerably younger than today. They could enrol in the Faculty of Arts from the age of 14-16. The precondition was that they should have a knowledge of the Latin language, the use of which was obligatory in the university. Acquisition of the fundamentals in the Liberal Arts was a precondition for admission to advanced studies in one of the "Higher Faculties". Only a small proportion of students achieved this and only a very small number obtained an academic degree. The reasons for this were certainly the high cost of studies - living expenses together with college fees and examination fees - but also the fact that some scholars continued their studies at another university. Most graduates were satisfied with the lowest degree, the Bachelor's degree in the Faculty of Arts. This degree was a precondition for admission to a Master's degree in Liberal Arts. Masters had not only the right but also the duty to teach for two years in their faculty. At the same time they could study at one of the Higher Faculties, where a certain number also acquired the academic degrees of Bachelor, Licentiate or Doctor.

Lit.: Paul Uiblein, Mittelalterliches Studium an der Wiener Artistenfakultät. Kommentar zu den Acta Facultatis Artium universitatis Vindobonensis 13851416 (=Schriftenreihe des Universitätsarchivs, Universität Wien, Bd. 4, 2. Aufl., Wien 1995); Thomas Maisel, Der "Lateinische Krieg". Eine studentische Revolte des frühen 16. Jahrhunderts in Wien. In: Historische Anthropologie 3 (1995) S. 389411.

Announcement of "Determination" at the Vienna Faculty of Arts, 1471

"Determination" (a public treatise on a quaestio under the guidance of a Master) was a precondition for the award of the academic degree of Bachelor. There was certainly an announcement sheet of this sort for every determination, but only a very small number have survived. The text runs: Sub magistro P[etro] de Haslpach cras hora septima Ru[pertus] Rindsmaul de Hallis Vallis Eni subscriptam determinabit questionem. U[trum] arcium liberalium no[titia] sit principibus ac presidibus necessaria. In aula universitatiss [!]. (Original in the Archive of the Abbey at Klosterneuburg)


Oldest "Lecture List" of the Faculty of Arts, 1st September 1390

In Faculties of Arts in the Middle Ages it was customary to allocate the books that were permitted and prescribed for lectures (libri ordinarii) among the Masters who made up the teaching staff. The allocation was carried out by the dean and details were recorded in the faculty annals. Here we see the first recorded allocation: these took place once a year on 1st September for the following academic year. (Original Manuscript in the Archive of the University of Vienna, Cod. Ph 6)


Armed confrontation between Students and Townspeople

The statutes of the University of Vienna forbade students to bear arms. It was not unique to Vienna, however, that this prohibition was often ignored. In particular students of noble birth, although only a small minority in Vienna, saw this regulation as a diminution of their status. There were frequent violent confrontations with other "groups of youths", such as apprentices and vineyard labourers, in the city in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The "Latin War" of 1513-14 was a tragic high point, when a mass confrontation with labourers led to a regular student uprising in the course of which there were many deaths and serious injuries. (Photo from an anonymous woodcut in: Eobanus Hessus, De pugna studentum Erphordensium cum quibusdam coniuratis nebulonibus. Ex typis Wuolfii Sturmer. Anno MDVI. Archive of the University of Vienna)