The founding of the University of Cambridge.

The founding of a Medieval University. Papal Bull concerning the University of Cambridge Inter Singula

John XXII, Pope of Rome, at the request of King Edward II granted this bull to the University of Cambridge. It seems to be qute similar to the document that the Vatican has on display.

The title of the page at the Vatican Secret Archives' website says: "JOHN XXII FOUNDS THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE". As it becomes quite clear from the document itself, John XXII did no such thing. The university already existed de facto for some time, and the term studium generale applied to the school in Cambridge was interchangeable with Universitas. The text below has a longer version of the header. There is also some discrapancy in the date of the document. Vatican has "Avignon, 1318 June 9th." The text below has July 11 (if I am not mistaken).

Joannes episcopus, servus servorum Dei, dilectis filiis Universitatis Cantabrigiae Eliensis, salutem, et apostolicam benedictionem. Inter singula, quae grata nos oblectatione laetificant, grandi cor nostrum reficitur gaudio, et laetitia exultat exoptata, cum eos qui coelesti sunt providentia praediti, ad populorum regimen et regnorum, ad communem subjectorum suorum profectum intentos aspicimus, ipsosque ad publicae utilitatis bonum solicitos intuemur: sane charissimus in Christo filius noster, Edwardus rex Angliae [illustris] prudenter attendens, quod multitudo sapientum salus est regnorum, quodque non minus prudentium consilio, quam fortium strenuitate virorum, regentium et regnorum moderamina disponantur, apud Cantabrigiam, Eliensis dioecesis locum, in regno suo multis commoditatibus praeditum, et insignem desiderat vigere studium generale, et quod a doctoribus et docendis in posterum frequentetur, humiliter postulavit a nobis ut studium ab olim ibi ordinatum, et privilegia a Romanis pontificibus praedecessoribus nostris vel regibus [Angliae] qui fuerint pro tempore eidem concessa, apostolico curemus munimine roborare. Nos igitur suae intentionis propositum, dignis in Domino laudibus commendantes, ejusque supplicationibus inclinati, apostolica autoritate statuimus, ut in praedicto loco Cantabrigiae sit de caetero studium generale [illudque ibidem vigeat perpetius futuris temporibus in qualibet facultate]: volentes autoritate praedicta et etiam decernentes, quod collegium magistrorum et scholarium ejusdem studii, Universitas sit censenda, et omnibus juribus gaudeant, quibus gaudere potest et debet Universitas quaecunque legitime ordinata. Caeterum omnia privilegia et indulta praedicto studio, rationabiliter a pontificibus et regibus praedictis concessa, autoritate praedicta confirmanus. Nulli igitur omnino liceat hanc paginam nostri saluti, voluntatis, constitutionis, et confirmationis infringere, vel ausu temerario contraire: si quis autem hoc attemptare prasumpserit, indignationem Omnipotentis Dei, et beatorum Petri et Pauli apostolorum, noverit se incursurum. Dat. Avinionae 5 idus Julii, Pontificatus nostri anno 2.

(Latin text from "The History of the University of Cambridge from the Conquest to the Year 1634" by Thomas Fuller, Marmaduke Prickett, Thomas Wright, 1840 edition)


Bishop John, servant of servants of God, extends greetings and apostolic blessings to the beloved sons of the University of Cambridge. Ely diocese. Among specific things that gladden us with welcome delight, our heart rejuvenates in great joy and exults in longed for happiness, when we see that those men, whom heavenly providence endowed towards the purpose of guiding nations and kingdoms, are intent upon the common progress of their subjects, and when we admire their concern for the welfare of public interests. Indeed, our dearest son in Christ, Edward, [great] King of England, prudently observant of the fact that prosperity of nations rests in the abundance of learned men and that the rulings of governors and kings are set in order in no lesser degree by the advice of the wise, as by the deeds of the strong, desired that a distinguished university may flourish in Cambridge, a town of the Ely diocese, under his rule endowed with many commodities, and, so that it might be filled in posterity with masters and students, he humbly requested us to it upon ourselves to reinforce with Apostolic protection both the school, instituted there some time ago, and the privileges that had been granted by the Roman Pontifices, our predecessors, or the kings [of England]. So, commending him in the Lord with deserved praises, and swayed by his supplications, we confirmed by our apostolic authority his proposed plan, so that henceforth in the said town of Cambridge there be a school (studium generale) and that it might flourish in that very place in times to come, in every academic discipline], willing by the aforesaid authority and in fact decreeing that the corporation of this very school be considered a university(universitas) and that they enjoy all rights which any lawfully instituted university might and should enjoy. Moreover, we confirm through the aforesaid authority all privileges and favors that were rightly granted to this school by the aforesaid pontifices and kings. No one, therefore, is permitted to infringe upon this charter of our protection, will, regulation and confirmation, or to go against it with reckless audacity. And if anyone should dare to attempt this he shall find himself incurring the anger of the Almighty God and the blessed apostles Peter and Paul.

Written in Avignon, July 11 of the second year of our pontificate.

See also Martin Luther's 95 Theses in Latin and English

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  • #sources
  • #latin language