Universität Wien An Historical Tour of the University of Vienna

Archiv der Universität Wien



The development of Vienna as the political, cultural and economic centre of a future Austrian kingdom was crucial to the ambitious plans of Duke Rudolf IV. On 12th March 1365 he sanctioned the deed of foundation for studies to doctoral level in Vienna in all the "approved" disciplines on the model of the University of Paris. The ratification of this foundation by Pope Urban V took place on 18th June 1365, but permission for the Faculty of Theology was refused. The reason for this refusal may have been both an intervention by the Emperor Charles IV, who feared competition for his University in Prague, and also the inadequate financial and physical resources. Only in 1384 was Duke Albrecht III able to extend his brother's foundation to a full university with the four faculties of Theology, Jurisprudence, Medicine and Artes Liberales (or Liberal Arts, which later became the Philosophical Faculty). He established a complex of buildings opposite the Dominican Monastery to accommodate the Collegium Ducale (Ducal College) - a corporation forming an integral part of the University and consisting of 12 Masters from the Faculty of Arts and 2 Doctors of Theology. The university, which is today the oldest surviving in the German-speaking lands, developed rapidly soon after its foundation. In the 15th Century it had the largest student enrolment in the Holy Roman Empire. As late as the 19th Century the conditions laid down in the two ducal letters of foundation still formed the basis of the university's self-government. The parchment of 12th March 1365, with the signature of Duke Rudolf IV and that of his brothers, was never repealed.

Lit.: Paul Uiblein, Mittelalterliches Studium an der Wiener Artistenfakultät. Kommentar zu den Acta Facultatis Artium universitatis Vindobonensis 1385-1416 (=Schriftenreihe des Universitätsarchivs, Universität Wien, Bd. 4, 2. Aufl., Wien 1995).

Gründungsurkunde der Universität Wien

Deed of Foundation of the University of Vienna, 12th March 1365, Latin version

The Latin version of the letter of foundation was intended for presentation to the Curia in Rome. The signatory of this deed and therefore founder of the University of Vienna was the young Duke Rudolf IV, who sought to follow the example of his father-in-law, Emperor Charles IV, and raise the image of his home city by establishing a Studium Generale. This Deed sets out the organisational structures of the university and determines the relationship of members of the university to the City of Vienna. The Pope confirmed the foundation but refused to sanction the establishment of a Faculty of Theology in Vienna. (Original in the Archive of the University of Vienna).


Pope Urban V confirms the foundation of the University of Vienna, 18th June 1365

With this decree Pope Urban V gives his agreement to the establishment of the University in Vienna, although without approval for a Faculty of Theology. This restriction affected almost half of all university foundations until 1400. The papal agreement to the establishment of a Faculty of Theology at the University of Vienna was only given in 1384. (Original in the Archive of the University of Vienna).