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For other uses, see Sorbonne (disambiguation).
Place Sorbonne.JPG
Inscription over an entrance to the Sorbonne
The front of the Sorbonne Building
Sorbonne Square (Place de la Sorbonne)
Exterior of Sorbonne edifice

The Sorbonne is an edifice of the Latin Quarter, in Paris, France, which was the historical house of the former University of Paris. Nowadays, it houses part or all of several higher education and research institutions such as Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Paris-Sorbonne University, Paris Descartes University, the École Nationale des Chartes and the École pratique des hautes études.

The name is commonly used to refer to the historic University of Paris or one of its successor institutions, but this is a recent usage. "Sorbonne" has actually been used with different meanings over the centuries. For information on the historic University of Paris and the present universities which are its successor institutions, or the older Collège de Sorbonne, please refer to the relevant articles.

Collège de Sorbonne[edit]

The name is derived from the Collège de Sorbonne, founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon as one of the first significant colleges of the medieval University of Paris.[1][2] The university as such predates the college by about a century, and minor colleges had been founded already in the late 12th century. During the 16th century, the Sorbonne became a focal point of the intellectual struggle between Catholics and Protestants. The University served as a major stronghold of Catholic conservative attitudes, and as such conducted a bitter struggle against King Francis I's policy of relative tolerance towards the French Protestants, except for a brief period in 1533 when the University was placed under Protestant control.

The Collège de Sorbonne was suppressed during the French revolution, reopened by Napoleon in 1808 and finally closed in 1882. This was only one of the many colleges of the University of Paris that existed until the French revolution. Hastings Rashdall, in The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages (1895), which is still a standard reference on the topic, lists some 70 colleges of the university from the Middle Ages alone; some of these were short-lived and disappeared already before the end of the medieval period, but others were founded in the early modern period, like the Collège des Quatre-Nations.

Paris Faculty of Theology[edit]

With time, the college came to be the centre of theological studies and "Sorbonne" was frequently used as a synonym for the Paris Faculty of Theology despite being only one of many colleges of the university.

May 1968[edit]

Following months of conflicts between students and authorities at the University of Paris at Nanterre, the administration that university on 2 May 1968. Students at the Sorbonne campus in Paris met on 3 May to protest against the closure and the threatened expulsion of several students at Nanterre. On Monday, 6 May, the national student union, the Union Nationale des Étudiants de France (UNEF) — still the largest student union in France today — and the union of university teachers called a march to protest against the police invasion of Sorbonne. More than 20,000 students, teachers and supporters marched towards the Sorbonne, still sealed off by the police, who charged, wielding their batons, as soon as the marchers approached. While the crowd dispersed, some began to create barricades out of whatever was at hand, while others threw paving stones, forcing the police to retreat for a time. The police then responded with tear gas and charged the crowd again. Hundreds more students were arrested. 10 May marked the "Night of Barricades," where students used cars, wood, and cobblestones to barricade the streets of the Latin Quarter. Brutal street fighting ensued between students and riot police, most notably on Rue Gay-Lussac. Early the next morning, as the fighting disbanded, Daniel Cohn-Bendit sent out a radio broadcast calling for a general strike. On Monday 13 May, over one million workers went on strike and the students declared that the Sorbonne was "open to the public."[3] Negotiations broke down, and students returned to their campuses after a false report that the government had agreed to reopen them, only to discover the police still occupying the schools.

When the Sorbonne reopened, students occupied it and declared it an autonomous "people's university!". In the weeks that followed, approximately 401 popular action committees were set up in Paris and elsewhere to take up grievances against the government and French society, including the Occupation Committee of the Sorbonne.

Current situation[edit]

In 1970, the University of Paris was divided into thirteen different universities. These universities still stand under the management of a common rectorate – the Rectorate of Paris - with offices in the Sorbonne. The thirteen successor universities to the University of Paris are now split over the three academies of the Île-de-France region.[4]

Thirteen successor universities[edit]

University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne University Academy of Paris Hautes Études-Sorbonne-Arts et Métiers
University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas University Academy of Paris
University of Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle University Academy of Paris Sorbonne Paris Cité
University of Paris IV Paris-Sorbonne University Academy of Paris Sorbonne Universities
University of Paris V René Descartes University Academy of Paris Sorbonne Paris Cité
University of Paris VI Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University Academy of Paris Sorbonne Universities
University of Paris VII Denis Diderot University Academy of Paris Sorbonne Paris Cité
University of Paris VIII University of Vincennes in Saint-Denis Academy of Créteil Université Paris Lumières
University of Paris IX Paris Dauphine University Academy of Paris Paris Sciences et Lettres-Quartier Latin
University of Paris X University of Paris Ouest Academy of Versailles Université Paris Lumières
University of Paris XI University of Paris Sud Academy of Versailles UniverSud Paris
University of Paris XII University of Paris Est Academy of Créteil Université Paris-Est
University of Paris XIII University of Paris Nord Academy of Créteil Sorbonne Paris Cité

Four of these universities currently include the name "Sorbonne" in their names or are affiliated with the Sorbonne:

These four public universities maintain facilities in the historical building of the Sorbonne. The building also houses the Rectorate of Paris, the École Nationale des Chartes, the École pratique des hautes études, the Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne and the Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne.

These should not be confused with two private institutions that bear the name of their creator: College de Sorbon (in the Ardennes) and the Ecole supérieure Robert de Sorbon which specialises in VAE degrees.

Today the word Sorbonne no longer refers to the University of Paris but to the historical building located in the Latin Quarter, the 5th arrondissement of Paris.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ English Literature - William Henry Schofield. BiblioLife. 31 January 2009. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  2. ^ Hilde de Ridder-Symoens (16 October 2003). A History of the University in Europe: Volume 1, Universities in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521541138. excerpt
  3. ^ Paris: May 1968. Solidarity pamphlet series no. 30 (Bromley [Kent]), 1968).
  4. ^ University of Paris#Thirteen successor universities

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°50′55″N 2°20′36″E / 48.84861°N 2.34333°E / 48.84861; 2.34333

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbonne — Please support Wikipedia.
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