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The Universities of the Renaissance and Reformation*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018


European universities had great intellectual and religious influence in the Renaissance and Reformation and exhibited considerable variety. Italian universities taught law and medicine to doctoral students. Their loose organization made it possible for professors to produce original research in law, medicine, philosophy, and the humanities. Northern European universities concentrated on teaching arts to undergraduates, while theology was the most important graduate faculty. Their stronger structure enabled Martin Luther and other professors of theology in German, Dutch, Swiss, and English universities to create and lead the Protestant Reformation. By the early seventeenth century universities everywhere were in decline.

Copyright © 2004 Renaissance Society of America

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This is an expanded version of the Josephine Waters Bennett Lecture delivered at the Renaissance Society of America meeting in Toronto, Ont., on 28 March 2003. The most important change is the addition of the appendix documenting the university careers of religious leaders of the Protestant Reformation. For some of the points made in the text, only a small number of references chosen among many sources could be included. I am grateful to professors Christoph Lathy, James McConica, Charles Nauert, and Erika Rummel for answering questions, and to professors Ann Moyer and Arjo J. Vanderjagt for providing me with hard- to-locate scholarly materials. The following abbreviation is used: OER = The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation. Editor-in-chief Hans J. Hillerbrand. 4 vols. New York, 1996.


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