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Medieval Sourcebook:
Frederick II:
Lictere Generales, establishing the University of Naples, 1224

Translation of the LICTERAE GENERALES with which Emperor Frederick the Second, established the University of Naples in 1224 (the first State University in Europe),- see Davis R.H.C. History of Medieval Europe, London: 1957 page 373.

Frederick etc. to all the Archbishops, Bishops, priests counts, barons, judges, executors of Justice, bailiffs, and all authorities of the Kingdom: With the favor of God , thanks to Whom we live and reign, and to Whom we attribute all good deeds done by us, We wish that in all parts of the Kingdom many will become wise and knowledgeable, by having access to a fountain of knowledge, and a seminary of doctrine., so that they, made proficient by study and observation ,will serve divine justice , and will become useful to us, for the administration of Justice and of the laws which we urge everyone to obey . We have therefore decided that in the most pleasant city of Naples there should be teaching of the arts and of all disciplines , so that those who are starved for knowledge will find it in our own kingdom, and will not be forced , in their search for knowledge, to become pilgrims and to beg in foreign lands. We intend to provide for the good of those of our subjects who, after having become learned, will hope to acquire wealth, since the acquisition of what is good cannot be sterile, and will be followed by nobility, the halls of the tribunals, wealth, and the grace and favors of friendship. Therefore we will invite those scholars who are not without merit , and without doubt we will entrust them with the administration of justice once they have become able to do so Therefore be happy and ready for the teachings that scholars desire.

We will allow you to live in a place where everything is in abundance, where the homes are sufficiently spacious, where the customs of everyone are affable, and where one can easily transport by sea or land what is necessary to human life. To them we offer all useful things, good conditions, for them we will look for teachers, promise goods and offer prizes to those who are worthy of it. . We will keep them under the gaze of their parents, we will free them from many labors, and from the necessity of long trips, almost pilgrimages. We will protect them from the dangers of brigands who would deprive them of their goods on the long roads. . Among the teachers that we have assigned to the School we have Roffredo of Benevento, a faithful judge, professor of civil rights a, man of great science and proven loyalty.

We order therefore to all of you who govern provinces and preside over administrations, to let all these things known to all and everywhere , and to command, under danger of persons and goods, that no student will dare leave the Kingdom for reasons of study and that no one dare to teach in other places of the kingdom. And that, through their parents, you order to those students who are outside the Kingdom, to return here by the Feast of St Michael

These are the conditions that we offer to the students. First, that there will be doctors and teachers in every Faculty. We assure the students, wherever they come from, that they will be able to come , stay and return without any risk to their persons or goods. The best houses will be given to them , and their rent will be at most two ounces of gold. All the houses will be rented for a sum up to that amount, bases on an estimate by two citizens and two students. There will be loans given to students, based on their needs, by those who are designated to do so, with the pawning of the books, which will be temporarily returned after receiving the guarantee from other students. The student will not leave the city until he has paid back his debt, or has given back the pawns given to him temporarily. Such pawns will not be requested by the creditor as long as the Students remains in School. In civil trials all will have to appear before their teachers. As for grain meat, fish wine and other things that students need, we will not make any rule since the province has all these things in abundance and all will be sold to students as it is to citizens. We invite the students to such a laudable and great task, we promise to respect these conditions, to honor your persons and to order universally that you should be honored by all

Syracuse 5 June 1224.


The students of Bologna ridiculed the idea of the University in Naples as " an embryo unlikely to develop". Frederick tried to close the University of Bologna ( he had great influence in the area around it through the Pope. } The Comune of Bologna responded with laws that allowed the confiscation of the goods of teachers and students who left that University . Frederick warned the Regents of Bologna that their laws to avoid the exodus of students were "illusiones". He established new laws forbidding to everyone to teach or study at Bologna, under the penalty of losing certain fundamental rights, such as making their will or participating in public functions. He also declared null and void all sentences made in Bologna He did not succeed in closing Bologna because the Pope made peace with the local authorities.


© Mario Spagnuolo, 1998

Trans Mario Spagnuolo

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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Paul Halsall, November 1998


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