The founding of the ancient Scottish Universities

Founding of Aberdeen University

The University of Aberdeen, as now constituted, derives its origin from two different foundations: one, the University and King's College of Aberdeen, founded in 1494, by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen, under the authority of a Papal Bull, obtained in the instance of King James IV; the other, Marischal College and University of Aberdeen, founded in 1593, by George Keith, Earl Marischal, by a Charter ratified by Act of Parliament. On the 2nd of August, 858, the Royal assent was given to an Act of Parliament, intitled "An Act to make provision for the better government and discipline of the Universities of Scotland, and improving and regulating the course of study therein; and for the Union of the Two Universities and Colleges of Aberdeen."

Founding of Edinburgh University

The University of Edinburgh was founded in I S82, by a Royal Charter granted by James VI. The Charter contemplates a University on a wide basis, with the conditions necessary for liberal study, and arrangements suited to the progressive state of modern science. In 1621, an Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament, which ratified to the University, in ample form, all the rights, immunities, and privileges enjoyed by other Universities in the kingdom. This ratification was renewed in the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, and in the Act of Security. The privileges and efficiency of the University have been augmented by the Universities (Scotland) Act (1858), making provision for the better government and discipline of the Universities of Scotland, and for improving and regulating the course of study therein.

Founding of Glasgow University

The University of Glasgow is a corporate body, which has always included a Chancellor, Rector, Dean of Faculties, Principal, Professors, and Students. It was originally founded, like most other ancient establishments of the same nature, by the authority of the See of Rome. Pope Nicholas V, by a bull, elated the seventh of January, 1450-1, erects and establishes in Glasgow a "Studium Generale ... tam in theologia ac jure canonico et civili, quam iin artibus, et quavis alia licita facultate." He then declares that this University shall have the same power of creating Masters and Doctors as any other "Studium Generale" in Christendom, and appoints the Bishop of Glasgow and his successors, Chancellors and Rectors by his authority. In the same year a body of statutes was prepared, and the University established by the exertions of the Bishop and his Chapter. It consisted, at this time, of the Chancellor and Rector, of various Masters and Doctors in the Faculties of Theology, Canon Law, and the Arts; and, lastly, of the incorporated students in these Faculties, who might be promoted to the same degrees in each, after following out the course of study prescribed in the statutes.

Founding of St Andrews University

The University of St Andrews, which is the oldest in Scotland, was founded by Henry Wardlaw, Bishop of the diocese, A.D. 1411. The Foundation was sanctioned in 1413, by a Papal Bull, granted on the petition of King James I., the Bishop, and the other dignitaries of the Church in the ecclesiastical metropolis, by Benedict Xlll., from whom also five other Bulls were procured during the same year, confirming the benefactions bestowed by the Bishop, and extending the rights and privileges on the Foundation. The Papal Bulls institute a Studium Generale or University, for instruction in Theology, Canon and Civil Law, Medicine, and the Liberal Arts, with power to confer Degrees on such as the Bishop might, after due examination and advising with the Doctors and Masters of the University, deem to be worthy of them.


JOC/EFR February 2008

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