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La Nau Building - Foundation of the "Estudi General"


Foundation of the Estudi General

Papal bull issued by Sixtus V, Bulla Copiosus in misericordia Dominus, 1585


Although there were houses of higher education in Valencia in the thirteenth century, these studies were not grouped together as the Estudi General, with statutes approved (1412) by the municipal authorities and the bishop Hugo de Llupiá, until the fifteenth century. The institution was set up in premises that were next to San Lorenzo church, but academic freedom as provided for in the Furs (Valencia law code) allowed other schools to continue teaching. 

At the turn of the century the rich and flourishing Valencian society of the period wanted to give these studies university status and new constitutions were drawn up to this effect. A papal bull issued by Pope Alexander VI Borgia dated January 23 1501 recognised the new university and provided that the archbishop hold the post of chancellor to award the baccalaureate and doctor’s degrees under papal authority. A second papal bull charged the high archdeacon and the cathedral dean and chapter with ensuring compliance with the provisions stipulated in the previous bull. The foundation of the university was confirmed by king Ferdinand the Catholic on February 16 1502. 

The university was constituted as a municipal university according to the model established in the Kingdom of Aragon, and the General City Council asserted its power over the Estudi General by taking on the patronage or the right to appoint the members of the board because the salaries and costs were financed by the Council.


Portraits of Alexander VI and Ferdinand the Catholic, assembly hall, University of Valencia


One of the first rectors was Lluís Navarro (1521) who had founded a benefice and remodelled the university Sapiencia chapel, and also financed the altarpiece with an image of the Virgin Mary between St. Luke and St. Nicholas by the painter Nicolás Falcó (1517).

When the University was founded Italian humanism and nominalistic trends from Paris and Oxford prevailed in Europe. The appointment in 1525 of Joan de Salaia as permanent rector until 1558 used up the funds of several university departments, which were closed. This impoverished and reduced the Estudi General and increased the rector’s power to appoint lecturers and maintain external discipline. His overt anti-Erasmianism marked the beginning of a period of decadence. 

At that time it was the School of Medicine that gained greater prominence because of Lluís Alcanyís’ teaching. He was the author of a book called Regiment preservatiu e curatiu de la pestilencia, a pioneering work on public health, and had founded a college for surgeons in 1462. The anatomical dissections performed by Pere Ximeno and Lluís Collado, followers of Andrea Vesalius, and the Herbs department where Joan Plaza had made a botanical garden for practical training, placed Valencia in the forefront of European medical humanism, with as many as seven medical departments in the second half of the sixteenth century.



La Nau Building

La Nau chronology

Foundation of the "Estudi General"

Building a house of knowledge

17th and 18th Centuries

"Building without offending proper decorum"

Reconstruction, symmetry and unity

The University as a living monument

Cultural Project  


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