Charles University

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Charles University

Charles University, at Prague, Czech Republic; also called Univ. of Prague. The oldest and one of the most important universities of central Europe, it was founded in 1348 by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, for whom it is named. The faculty was organized in four so-called nations, the Czech, Saxon, Bavarian, and Polish. The struggle between the German and Czech nationalities in Bohemia was reflected in the university when, in 1403, the Czech nation, including Jan Huss, was outvoted by the three other nations in a controversy regarding John Wyclif's doctrines. When in 1409 the three foreign nations opposed the request of Holy Roman Emperor Wenceslaus to take a neutral attitude between the two rival popes in the Great Schism, Wenceslaus changed the statutes of the university. By the Decree of Kutna Hora he gave three votes to the Czech nation and one vote to the other three nations. Shortly after that Czech victory, Huss himself became rector of the university. As a result of the Decree of Kutna Hora the Germans left the university and founded the Univ. of Leipzig. The Germanization of the university, which began after the battle of the White Mt. (1620), reached its peak in 1774 when German was made the language of instruction. In 1882 the university was divided into two branches—Charles Univ., which was Czech, and Ferdinand Univ., which was German. After the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918 this division was maintained, although the Czech university received the greater facilities. The German university was abolished after World War II. The university currently has faculties of education, law, mathematics and physics, medicine, pharmacy, philosophy, physical training, social sciences, and theology. There are institutes of social and political sciences and economics.

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