Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Collège de Sorbonne
This article is about the Collège de Sorbonne. For other uses of the name, see Sorbonne.
The Collège de Sorbonne was a theological college of the University of Paris, founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon, after whom it is named. With the rest of the Paris colleges, it was suppressed during the revolution. It was restored in 1808 but finally closed in 1882. The name Sorbonne eventually became synonymous with the parisian Faculty of Theology, and in more recent time came to be used in reference to the entire university. It is the name of its main campus in the V arrondissement of Paris, which now houses several universities (heirs to the former University of Paris) as well as the Paris rectorate.
The College was originally created for the use of 20 theology students in 1257 as Collège de Sorbonne by Robert de Sorbon (1201-1274), a chaplain and confessor to King Louis IX of France. It quickly built a prodigious reputation as a center for learning, and by the 13th century there were as many as twenty thousand foreign students resident in the city, making Paris the capital of knowledge of the Western world. Today, foreign students still make up a significant part of its campus.
The Sorbonne became the most distinguished theological institution in France and its doctors were frequently called upon to render opinions on important ecclesiastical and theological issues. In 1622-1626, Cardinal Richelieu renovated the Sorbonne (the present buildings date from this time, with restorations dating from 1885). In his honour, the chapel of the Sorbonne was added in 1637. When Richelieu died in 1642 he was placed in a tomb within this chapel.
The faculty's close association with the Church resulted in it being closed down during the French Revolution before it was reopened by Napoleon in 1808 to serve as part of the University of Paris. Between then and 1885 the Sorbonne served as the seat of the university's theology faculties and of the Académie de Paris. At the end of the 19th century, the Sorbonne became an entirely secular institution.

The constitution of the society as conceived by Robert was quite simple: an administrator (provisor), associates (socii), and guests (hospites). The provisor was the head; nothing could be done without consulting him; he installed the members selected by the society, and confirmed the statutes drawn up by it; in a word, as his title signifies, he had to provide for everything. The associates formed the body of the society. To be admitted to it, the candidate was required to have taught a course of philosophy. There were two kinds of associates, the bursaires and the pensionnaires. The latter paid forty (Paris) pounds a year, the former were provided for by the house, which expended a like sum from its revenues. The burse could be granted only to persons not having an income of forty (Paris) pounds. There was a primus inter pares, the prior, who presided over all internal affairs of the house. Doctors and bachelors were alike eligible, but, owing to the number of the latter, the custom rapidly grew up of selecting only bachelors. Other persons were candidates for admission to the society rather than members of it. From the material and intellectual point of view they enjoyed the same privileges as the members: board, lodging, books, spiritual and scholastic exercises but, they had no votes. When they had fulfilled the condition of teaching philosophy, they were admissible as members. The course of studies lasted ten years, during which time their burses continued; but, if at the end of ten years, they had not given proof of their ability, either as teachers or as preachers, their burse was vacated.

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