Hurtado Pérez (Mula
, Spain 1526 – Olomouc 1594)
The university is the oldest in Moravia and the second oldest in the Czech Crown lands. Its foundation was an important element of the Counter-Reformation in Moravia, as the church of Rome began its fight back against Protestantism. Roughly 90% of the population of the Czech lands was already Protestant by the time the Habsburgs took over the throne in 1526. The Protestant Hussites were working for the provision of universal education, which was a particular challenge for the Catholics. By the middle of the century there was not a single town without a Protestant school in the Czech lands, and many had more than one, mostly with two to six teachers each. In Jihlava, a principal Protestant center in Moravia, there were six schools: two Czech, two German, one for girls and one teaching in Latin, which was at the level of a high / grammar school, lecturing on Latin, Greek and Hebrew, Rhetorics, Dialectics, fundamentals of Philosophy and fine arts, as well as religion according to the Lutheran Augustana. With the University of Prague also firmly in hands of Protestants, the local Catholic church was unable to compete in the field of education. Therefore, the Jesuits were invited, with the backing of the Catholic Habsburg rulers, to come to the Czech lands and establish a number of Catholic educational institutions, foremost the Academy in Prague and the one in Olomouc.
The Olomouc bishop Vilém Prusinovský z Víckova invited the Jesuits to Olomouc in 1566. The Jesuits established a monastery, and then progressively established the Gymnasium (school) , the Academy, the Priest Seminary, and the Seminary of St. Francis Xavier For Poor Students.
The college was promoted to University status in 1573, and thence the Latin: Collegium Nordicum and the Academy of Nobility were established. The university was closed during plagues in 1599 and 1623, and during the Bohemian Revolt in the Thirty Years' War. It was ransacked by the Swedish Empire's armies.
In the Counter-Reformation and succeeding decades, it became significantly influential as the Jesuit grip loosened. In 1773, after the dissolution of the Jesuit order, it was turned into a secular institution run by the State. In the end, it was separated from the Olomouc episcopal institutions and relocated to Brno in 1778. It returned to Olomouc four years later, its status downgraded to that of a lyceum.
In 1827 it once again was promoted to University status. The short life of this renamed "Francis University" (Franzens-Universität Olmütz, 1827 – 1860) perhaps eclipses its high scientific standard (especially in natural sciences, law and medicine) and its political importance, particularly in the "Springtime of Peoples" during the Revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas, when it became the centre of the struggle for national revival in Moravia. The Habsburg régime retaliated by closing most of the university in the 1850s. Olomouc's university was fully re-established in 1946, inaugurating the modern era of the university.
Before the university
Education in Olomouc had a long tradition before the Jesuit College obtained University status. As early as 1249 a school was established by the Bishop of Olomouc Bruno ze Šamberka. Lectures covered grammar, dialectic, rhetoric and liturgy. The first Master, Bohumil, was appointed in 1286. In 1492 the first college dignitary, Heřman, was appointed.
||It is well known that Moravia was in the middle of the 16th century the land of the greatest religious freedom, and therefore it was famous in both the religious and laical European society as the den of the heresy. The majority of nobility was non-catholic, the schools and printing-shops established by the Unity of Bretheren were flourishing; on the other hand there were cries of Olomouc Catholic Bishops and of catholic kings Ferdinand and Maximilian about the bad standing of diocese, about the lack of clergy-men and their bad morals, disorders in schools as well as in monasteries, lack of financing etc.
|— V. Nešpor, Dějiny university olomoucké
The college was rebuilt by Bishop Marek Khuen z Olomouce in 1564 to provide lectures both to public administrators and to prospective teachers. His successor Vilém Prusinovský z Víckova invited Jesuits to Olomouc in 1566. Several education initiatives rapidly ensued in the city: it is apparent that by 1567 the Jesuits were running the college. The Olomouc episcopacy pledged to finance the college with 500 Tolars a year (the amount was raised to 2000 Tolars a year in 1570).
Founding of the Jesuit University
commemorating the quatercentenary
of Olomouc University (1573–1973) on the facade of the Faculty of Philosophy
||Jesuit instructors in Olomouc were as eager to procure converts to their religion as the Devil to pursue the soul.
|— Nicolaus Olai Campanius (Swedish Protestant, student in 1605-?)
On 22 December 1573 Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor appointed Jan Grodecký to be Bishop of Olomouc and at the same time gave the Olomouc Jesuit College the right to award university degrees. The first rector was
Hurtado Pérez (Mula, Spain 1526 – Olomouc 1594). University education itself started on 3 October 1576, when the Englishman George Warr started to lecture on philosophy. In the same year the first students were officially enrolled in the university's registry and the students were "subdued" in an admission ceremony, which was supposed to relieve them of base morals.
In 1578 the authority of the university was expanded by the creation of a special papal seminary (Latin: Seminarium Pontificium called in Latin: Collegium Nordicum (a second Collegium Nordicum was established in Braunsberg; the one in Olomouc lasted until 1741) The previous sphere of responsibility, which had covered Silesia, Poland, Hungary and the Austrian lands as well as Moravia, was now broadened to include Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. The aim of the seminary was to create devoted and well-educated Catholic priests who would then return to their homelands, and there promote and protect the Catholic Church's interests and objectives.
In 1581 the university received an Imperial Privilege from the emperor Rudolf II, whereby degrees awarded by the Jesuit University had the same value as those from any comparable university. At the same time the privilege established university jurisdiction over students and professors, which meant that university members enjoyed a form of clerical immunity and could not face trial before civil courts even in respect of criminal proceedings. In 1582 the Bishop and Jesuits forced the Protestant school in Olomouc to close. Meanwhile, the bishop, Stanislav Pavlovský, called for the establishment of faculties of law and medicine. He was able to convince the rector, Bartoloměj Villerius, to support his proposal. Later in the 1588 the emperor Rudolf II, in a document written in the Czech language, gave his support for establishment of all these faculties; however the idea failed at the time due to lack of finance. In 1590 the university had about 600 students, while by 1617 their number exceeded one thousand. In the era before the Battle of White Mountain Olomouc University was composed of a grouping of connected and comprehensive colleges and dormitories. The areas taught were humaniora (preparation for university-level studies), philosophy (liberal arts), and theology.
Rudolf II was succeeded in 1612 by his brother, the Emperor Matthias who sought to install the fiercely Catholic Ferdinand of Styria on the Bohemian throne (which was conjoined with that of the March of Moravia), but in 1618 the Protestant Bohemian and Moravian noblemen, who feared losing religious freedom (two of the Protestant churches being already forcibly closed), started the Bohemian Revolt. Consequently, the Jesuits were driven out of Olomouc and the university ceased operating, only to be restored in 1621 after the revolt was crushed. The Jesuits and the university benefited considerably from the defeat of Protestants: most of the Protestant nobles were either executed or expelled after the Revolt and their properties were confiscated. Prior to the Revolt the university was mostly funded from donations of patrons. However, the new Emperor Ferdinand II gave the university several substantial estates which he had confiscated from the defeated rebels. Foremost among these was the manor of Nový Jičín which provided a good income. Other properties donated by the Emperor included a farm formerly owned by Jan Adam Prusínovský, a relative of the founder of the Jesuit college. From 1622 the entire education system of the Czech Crown lands was placed under Jesuit control, including even the University of Prague and the University of Wrocław (Silesia was also a Czech Crown land at the time). By 1631 the university had some 1100 students of which around thirty were annually conferred Doctor of Philosophy title. The lectures on mathematics allured so wide audience, that they eventually became open to public.
- In 1639 the Swedish Army besieged Olomouc. 400 University students joined the protection guard.
- In 1683 the Polish-Lithuanian army was passing Olomouc on its way to Battle of Vienna. 288 university students swore a military oath in the university aula and joined the troops in the fight against Ottomans.
- In 1848 the university students established armed academic legion of 382 men. Many of them left the town and took part in revolutionary actions in Vienna.
The Thirty Years' War (1618–48) prevented further development of the university. The Swedish kings wanted to destroy once and for all the bases from which the Catholic Church and the Jesuit Order drew the manpower and economic resources needed for their attempts to reintroduce the spiritual rule of Rome into the Scandinavian North. These were foremost the Jesuit College in Braunsberg, which fell into the Swedish hands in 1626, and Olomouc. The Swedes occupied Olomouc from 1642 to 1650. They plundered the university's vast library and the population of the town declined from over 30,000 to 1,675. As a result, Olomouc University's most precious relics are now in the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, including 1,142 codices made under the patronage of Bishop of Olomouc Jindřich Zdík.
Revival and expansion after the Thirty Years' War
After the war ended the Jesuits started an extensive construction programme, building a series of imposing Baroque buildings for the Order and University in order to advertise their newly acquired domination of the Czech lands. This was happening against the background of savage re-Catholization which, along with war and plague saw the population decline from over 3 million to some 800,000 people. Even the Czech language was considered to be heresy by the Jesuits who were burning books written in Czech: the language was gradually reduced to nothing more than a means of communication between peasants, most of whom were illiterate. The era, generally described as the Dark Age of the Czech Nation, was nevertheless a period of expansion for the Jesuit University of Olomouc: several sciences were now taught at the university, including mathematics and physics (by Jakub Kresa and Jan Tesánek), and cartography (by Valentin Stansel). Hebrew was also studied. Among notable people connected with the university at the time are the mathematician Jan Marek Marci and the historian Bohuslav Balbín.
Olomouc University Thesis
The make-up of the university changed. Before the war the majority of lecturers were foreigners: now most of them were from Czech Crown lands. The number of students rose to 1,500 in 1727: in addition to locals there were many students from Hungary, Lusatia, Poland and Lithuania as well as from Russia.
The Jesuit College building in 1724
Most of the older Protestant nobility having been either killed or expelled, the new Moravian nobility were keen to expand the range of areas taught beyond just theology and philosophy. Despite opposition from the Jesuits, the Emperor Leopold I authorized the introduction of legal studies in 1679. A vigorous power struggle between the Jesuits and secular legal professors ensued. Several interventions by Emperors were needed to keep the legal studies going during the following decades. Karel Ferdinand Irmler started to lecture in both canonical and secular law at the university. However, the quarrels with the rector became so intense that the nobility requested him to teach only secular law. Consequently, he was forbidden to give lectures at the university and had to teach in his home, while later professors gave law lectures in the building of Olomouc court. In 1725 the nobility forced the establishment of the Collegium Nobilium – the Academy of Nobility – by the decree of Emperor Charles VI. By this time the Emperor had compelled the Jesuits to accept without obstruction the study of secular law at the university. The law professors were lecturing at both the university and the academy (where in addition to law, economics, mathematics, geometry, history and geography along with architecture – both civil and military – were also now available). The academy remained in Olomouc until 1847, when it was relocated to Brno: here it became the basis for what was later to become the Brno University of Technology.
Under state control
During the rule of Queen Maria Theresa of Austria (from 1740 to her death in 1780) tertiary education in the Habsburg Monarchy underwent reform in an effort to put it under state control. At Olomouc the Office of Faculty Directors was established in 1752: the directors were directly answerable to the Queen. In 1754 there were 10 professors of theology giving lectures to 241 students, 5 professors of philosophy giving lectures to 389 students and 3 professors of law giving lectures to 40 students. The number of students reached its peak in 1772, when there were altogether 1859 of them.
Meanwhile, in 1746, Faculty of Philosophy alumni Joseph von Petrasch established the first learned society in the lands under control of Austrian Habsburgs, the Societas eruditorum incognitorum in terris Austriacis. Not connected with the university, the Olomouc-based Society was publishing the first scientific journal in the monarchy, the Monatliche auszüge.
The power struggle between the empress Maria Theresa and Jesuits escalated in 1765. Until then, the position of university's Rector Magnificus was automatically in the hands of the rector of the Jesuit order. Firstly, the Empress took away the Jesuit's monopoly over the position by imposing that the Rector Magnificus was to be elected by academia. As a theologian was elected Rector Magnificus in 1765, the empress assumed the power and appointed her own favourite, secular professor of law Johann Heinrich Bösenselle, as the head of university in 1766. Meanwhile, the Empress decided to fortify the town heavily, in line with contemporary practice and reflecting the increased military threat from Prussia. The consequence of constraining the city within its upgraded fortifications was that scope for commercial development became very restricted. Olomouc's experience was in stark contrast with that of Brno to the south, which was further away from the Silesian war zones, and which became the centre of the Moravian Industrial Revolution.
In July 1773, responding to pressure from the new emperor, Pope Clement XIV dissolved the Jesuit Order and the university came under intensified state control. Several university buildings were taken over for use by the army, and by the end of the 1770s the university was left with only the St. Xavier's building (currently the Faculty of Theology). At the same time the main language was changed from Latin to German; the Czech language remained in use for lectures to trainee priests, who would need it to communicate with their congregations. Czech gained importance in the 1830s as part of the Czech National Revival.
Temporary relocation: the university downgraded
By the closing decades of the eighteenth century Brno had become the de facto capital of Moravia. This fact, as well as dissatisfaction with the university management due to persisting influence of the Church, led to the university relocating there in 1778. In Brno, the number of students declined to mere 575. There were nine professors at the faculty of theology, two at law and four at philosophy (one of which was professor of Political science, which would later become part of the faculty of law).
However, at the end of 1777 the diocese of Olomouc had been elevated to the status of an archdiocese, and in 1782 the first Archbishop of Olomouc Antonín Theodor Colloredo-Waldsee enforced relocation back by decree of Emperor Joseph II. At the same time the institution lost its university status, becoming a mere academict Lyceum. The Emperor had decided to retain only three universities, in Prague, Vienna, and Lviv. Teaching of medicine became a separate field, in which surgeons and obstetricians' assistants were taught.
A history of persecutions
Olomouc University was a product of persecution: the Olomouc bishop invited Jesuits to convert local Protestants to Catholicism. Later the Olomouc Academic community itself suffered from a succession of tyrannies in the Czech lands:
Significant loss of rights and privileges resulted from the change to an academic Lyceum. Legal jurisdiction over professors and students was no more: in 1783 the right to award Masters and Doctoral degrees was taken over by the Emperor (Bachelor degrees in philosophy were however awarded until 1821), and lectures were significantly cut back. However, after the death of Joseph II the situation gradually eased. Theology courses were restored to a full five years, while Philosophy was extended to three years and by 1810 Legal Studies took four years. By 1804 the Lyceum had some 730 students, which was comparable with University of Prague's 760. In 1805 studies were temporarily suspended, as many students entered the army during the Napoleonic Wars. Another suspension of lectures took place in 1809 because the Lyceum's buildings were taken over to accommodate army personnel. In 1826, there were altogether 26 professors at the Lyceum.
University status restored
Attempts to restore the Lyceum to full university status finally succeeded in 1827, when the Cardinal Archbishop of Olomouc, Rudolf Johannes Joseph Rainier von Habsburg-Lothringen (brother of the Emperor Francis II), persuaded the Emperor to promote the Lyceum, which now became the Francis University, with Faculties of Philosophy, Theology, and Law and School of Medicine and Surgery.
The university was again reaching its previous standard. For example, in 1839 there were seven law, seven philosophy and one theology doctoral degrees awarded, while 25 graduates obtained diploma in medicine and surgery. The number of students of Medicine and Surgery rose to some 100 every year, which was the second highest in the lands under control of Austrian Habsburgs (after University of Graz).
Olomouc became important centre of Czech National awakening. In 1834 the Department of Czech Language and Literature was established at the Academy.
Olomouc University in the year of revolutions
The 1848 revolution was welcomed by the university's students and professors. Some 11,000 people lived in Olomouc by this time, which was only a third of estimated population level back in 1600. The local garrison in 1848 nevertheless contained some 5,000 soldiers, which was a powerful anti-revolutionary force. Mostly the students and professors of law and philosophy were supportive of the Revolution, while the theologians distanced themselves from it. In March 1848 the students and professors petitioned the Emperor requesting, among other things, lectures in the Czech language and extensions to the university's freedoms and privileges. Later during the same month they established armed Academic Legion of 382 men: its first company consisted of lawyers while the second comprised philosophers and members of the medical faculty. Many of these left Olomouc in order to support the actions of revolutionary students in Vienna. Leading revolutionaries from Olomouc University included professors Ignác Jan Hanuš, Jan Helcelet and Andreas Jeitteles. These, together with students, participated in associations and started newspapers in Czech and German. The black-red-golden flag of Burschenschaft waived over the university buildings.
Although many students were supporting the Revolution regardless of their ethnicity, there was a clear ideological split between the Czech and German partisans as to the aims of the Revolution. While the German faction supported the goal of a "Greater Germany", the Czech side favoured some form of democratic federation of Austrian and Slavic nations. The Czechs took part in the Prague Slavic Congress while the "Greater Germany" faction joined in the Frankfurt Congress. Growing government alarm was reflected at the Olomouc fortress which was in full combat readiness by July 1848, which was enough to deter revolutionary actions in the town.
By October 1848 the Revolution in this region had been defeated, and indeed the Emperor with his court moved to Olomouc where, at the archbishop's palace, he abdicated in favour of his nephew in December 1848. At the university, supporters of Revolution were persecuted, while many who had remained conservative (including, notably, Theology Faculty members) would in the longer term benefit from their restraint.
Decline and closure
||Many of the professors were openly not favouring black and yellow (Austrian Empire's flag) nor Lesser Germany.
|— Richard Zimprich: Die Professoren der k. k. Franzensuniversität zu Olmütz (1828–1855).
1998 copy of Olomouc University Rector's Mace - the original from ca. 1572 is as of 2013 still held by the Innsbruck University
The university came out of the revolution as essentially bilingual (Czech and German) institution. In due course the university's support for the democratisation and the Czech National Revival brought retribution from the government in Vienna. In 1851, as the régime regained self-confidence, growing government intolerance of dissent and the subsequent decline in student numbers led to the closure of the Faculty of Philosophy. The Faculty of Law, which in 1849 had actually started teaching in the Czech language, was closed at the start of the 1855/56 academic year. In 1860 Emperor Franz Joseph I closed virtually the whole university. Only the independent Faculty of Theology and the independent University Library remained open, for nearly another eighty years, until, following the German invasion, all the Czech Universities were closed in November 1939. The School of Surgery also survived the emperor's decree in 1860, but closed in 1875.
Olomouc University's regalia were transferred to University of Innsbruck. Since the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the Czechs have been unsuccessfully requesting return of University of Olomouc original ceremonial equipment. The situation as of 2013 is as follows:
- The Olomouc University Rector's Chain from around 1566–1573 is used as the Innsbruck Medical University Rector's Chain
- The Olomouc University Rector's Mace from 1572 is used as the Innsbruck Faculty of Theology Dean's Mace
- The Olomouc Faculty of Philosophy Dean's Mace from 1588 is used as the Innsbruck Medical University Rector's Mace
- The Olomouc Faculty of Law Dean's mace from 1833 is used as the Innsbruck Faculty of Law Dean's Mace
There were efforts to reopen the university during the 1890s and again, after the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia, in 1918, but all these attempts failed.
Restoration of the university
||The Interim National Assembly of the Czechoslovak Republic, wishing to undo hostile acts of the Austrian governments against the old University of Olomouc, has agreed as follows...
|— The Preamble of the Olomouc University Restoration act No. 35/1946
On 21 February 1946 the Interim National Assembly passed the Olomouc University Restoration Act, which anticipated restoration of Faculties of Theology, Law, Medicine, Philosophy. Exactly one year later, the university was reopened, with no Faculty of Law but one of Education, which was established by a separate Act of 9 April 1946.
The Communist takeover in 1948 led to changes that would affect all Czech universities. Palacký University was hit by the persecutions, but since the university had only recently reopened, relatively few members of the Palacký academic community were affected. Nevertheless, in 1950 the Faculty of Theology was closed again, reflecting the Communist government's mistrust of the churches. The establishment in 1952 of the Olomouc School of Education (with faculties of Social Sciences and Natural Sciences) was followed by a gradual closure of the Faculty of Philosophy and Faculty of Education. Therefore, in years 1954–1958 the Palacký University had only Faculty of Medicine. The School of Education was itself closed in 1958, re-establishing once again the university's Faculty of Philosophy, and affiliating the Faculty of Science. The Faculty of Education was created later in 1964: the university, as in earlier centuries, once again consisted of four faculties.
During the Prague Spring, which attracted much international attention in 1968, many members of the Palacký academic community took part in democratisation efforts, seeking to move the ruling totalitarian dictatorship towards socialist democracy. The movement was crushed and the reforms reversed when combined Warsaw Pact armies from the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, East Germany, Hungary and Poland invaded Czechoslovakia. Soviet military occupation followed. At this time the Union of University Students of Bohemia and Moravia, a new student organisation, was established at Olomouc, and later organised student strikes in Autumn 1968. At the same time efforts were made to restore the Faculty of Theology, but they failed and it remained no more than a branch of the Charles University Theological Faculty of Litoměřice, and was forced to shut down again in 1974.
The Communist regime's efforts to "restore order" in a so-called Normalization process between 1969 and 1989, involved mass purges of academic staff, which in one way or another affected one lecturer in four.
In 1989 the Student Strike Committee was the only Velvet Revolution movement in Olomouc.
Today the university comprises 8 faculties with some 24,000 students.
The university is also the patron of the annual Academia Film Olomouc festival and Olomouc Festival of Film Animation.
Palacký University Olomouc timeline
Reconstructed Jesuit building, which now serves as the University Art Centre
Courtyard of the University Art Centre
- 1573–1773: The Jesuit University. Gymnasium, initially philosophy and theology faculties, later also law and medicine
- 1773–1782: The State University. From 1778 to 1782 the university is temporarily relocated to Brno.
- 1782–1827: The Lyceum. After its return to Olomouc, the university has its status reduced to a Lyceum.
- 1827–1860: The Emperor Francis University. Emperor Francis II promotes Lyceum to University, Emperor Francis Joseph I dissolves the university.
- 1861–1946: Only the Faculty of Theology remains, independent of the university proper. (closed by Germans 1939–1945)
- 1946: The Palacký University. The Palacký University Restoration Act of 2 February restores the university with Faculties of Theology, Law, Medicine and Philosophy.
- 1947, 2 February: One year after the Restoration Act is passed, the university is opened with Faculties of Theology, Medicine, Philosophy and a Faculty of Education established by a separate act.
- 1950: The Faculty of Theology is dissolved.
- 1953: The School of Education is established with Faculties of Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. Later the Faculties of Education and Philosophy are dissolved.
- 1958: The Faculty of Science is established and the Faculty of Philosophy restored. Teacher training continues at the Educational Institute until its dissolution in 1964.
- 1964: The Faculty of Education is restored.
- 1968: The Faculty of Theology restores its function as a branch of Charles University Theological Faculty of Litoměřice
- 1974: The Faculty of Theology is once again shut down by force.
- 1989: The university has Faculties of Medicine, Philosophy, Education and Science. Another three Faculties are to be established after the Velvet revolution.
- 1990: The Faculty of Theology is restored.
- 1991: The Faculty of Physical Culture is established, while the 1946 Restoration Act is fulfilled by opening the Faculty of Law.
- 1998, 12 June: The University of Innsbruck donates an exact copy of the Rector's Mace.
- 2000: Reconstructed Armoury, in which the Central Library is sited, opens.
- 2002: The Art Center building opens in the reconstructed Jesuit building. Three art departments of the Faculty of Philosophy and two art departments of the Faculty of Education are sited there.
- 2003: The university accedes to Magna Charta Universatum to formally start the Bologna Process.
- 2008: The Faculty of Health Sciences is established.
|Faculties students (2010/2011)|