Banner Viadrina

Universitas Francofurtensis (1506 - 1811)

Brandenburg’s First University

For more than three hundred years, from 1506 to 1811, Frankfurt (Oder) was the home of the first public university of the prinicipality of Brandenburg. Key figures in the creation of this first university were Prince Elector Joachim I as well as his councillor Eitelwolf vom Stein and the Bishop of Lebus Dietrich von Bülow. The Universitas Francofurtensis enjoyed great repute as an institution of learning for persons who later played an important part in shaping and staffing the civil service of this principality as well as the Prussian state. Jurists served as diplomats in affairs of state, theologians of Viadrina were among those who held positions in the upper echelons of the church in the region of Mark Brandenburg, and Frankfurt professors of medicine acted as personal physicians to the Elector Princes.

The list of outstanding achievements attributed to the Universitas Francofurtensis, at which more than 55,000 young people studied till 1811, is a long one. Four schools - of Law, Theology, Medicine and Philosophy - taught the subject matter of their respective faculties, while rhetoric, history, astronomy, mathematics and music, together with related fields, also flourished, gaining high recognition in their areas of study. This first Viadrina made significant contributions to the progress of science and scholarship in a total of 25 disciplines.

A close look at the direction and focus of the old Viadrina on the Oder reveals that, as a result of its geographical location, the university became a meeting ground of East and West for scholars and students from both sides of the Oder. At any given time, large numbers of students from Lithuania, Poland as well as other central and eastern European countries were enrolled at the university in Frankfurt (Oder), which, for many aspiring young scholars from these countries in the east, often became a first academic base for their exploration of European scholarship.

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