Education in Austrian Galicia:
University of Krakow (Universität Krakau)

As a centre for culture, trade, traffic and education, Krakow was historically far ahead of Lviv, which became capital of Galicia at a time when Krakow was an independent city republic and not Galician yet. The "Jagiellonian University" of Krakow is among the older in Europe, going back to a foundation of the Polish King Kazimierz III ("the Great") in 1364 as an "academy".

This academy was referred to as a university since a reform under King Władysław II Jagiełło in 1400. In the following centuries, it became the centre of intellectual culture for the Polish lands and people (with strong German strands), ranking among the most significant universities in Europe. Its reputation peaked during the Renaissance, with Nicolaus Copernicus becoming its most famous graduate and teacher. At this time, the University of Krakow had three nationes, a Polish, a German and a Hungarian (dissolved in 1541) one, each with respective bursae.

During the 16th and 17th century, the university struggled with the Societa Jesu (Jesuit Order) over questions of administration and power. The counter-reformation finally strengthened the Jesuits and limited the independence of the university. This and the beginning Polish decline resulted in a period of serious problems for the University of Krakow. After the First Division of Poland in 1772, reforms attempted to modernise the university and re-allocate the property of the dissolved Jesuit Order.

These reforms did not help to bring the university back to its glory of the Renaissance; another serious attempt to re-vive the intellectual traditions was the merging with the University of Lviv in 1805 (see above). After the confusing years of the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna ensured Krakow′s status as a neutral city republic in 1815, under joint protectorate of Prussia, Russia and the Habsburg Empire. The university introduced the Humboldt reforms of the Prussian universities in 1817, the languages of instruction were Polish and Latin.

Student numbers were low, since only "nationals" of the city state were admitted (with very few exceptions - even Prussians, Russians and Austrians required special permissions for the admission after 1833). This policy was enforced to weaken the role of the institution, since the University of Krakow was seen as the backbone of Polish nationalism. When this did not change, the three protectorate powers occupied Krakow between 1836 and 1841. When the Polish nobility revolted against the Habsburgs in 1846, Austrian troops occupied Krakow again and finally annexed it to the Kronland Galicia.

Note that the higher education scene of Krakow was also influenced by the technical Lehranstalt, later Technisches Institut; its history as far as relevant is outlined above. It was dissolved in 1877 and never gained the status of a university; it is therefore not dealt with in greater detail in this article. Furthermore, a university of veterinary sciences was founded in 1880; it was essentially a direct offspring of the University of Krakow and founded after most of the Polonisation at least in Krakow had occurred; due to its subject of study, Krakow′s uncontested Polish identity and late foundation of this institution, the University of Veterinary Sciences played no significant role in questions of nationalism and will not be dealt with in further detail.

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Further Reading

Studentenverbindung: Fraternities and Burschenschaft

Wikipedia on the Habsburg Empire (Habsburg Monarchy)

Wikipedia on Nationalism

Sources for 19th century History (key to nationalism)