University of Naples – Federico II

Esil Conference 2017 > University of Naples – Federico II

Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, King of Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor established the University of Naples as the Studium with an Imperial Charter, on 5 June 1224. In recognition of its founder, the University was named Federico II in 1987.

Federico II is the oldest State University in the world; this was at variance with other educational institutions, which were, by and large, the product of corporate initiatives. The King’s objective was to create an institution of higher learning that would put an end to the predominance of the private universities of Northern Italy, most notably Bologna and Padua, which were considered either too independent or under the strong influence of the Pope.

The independence was granted by the Charter, which gave the Emperor the highest authority. He hired professors, who became royal employees paid through royal funds. Moreover, the Emperor himself examined candidates and conferred degrees. Consistent with this rather rigid, centralized establishment, students and academic personnel were not allowed to travel and study elsewhere. Graduates took a vow to stay loyal to the King and to lecture at the Studium for a minimum of sixteen months.

The foundation of the University was carried out within the framework of an administrative reform pursued by the Emperor with the objective of training bureaucrats loyal to him and capable of keeping under check local nobles whom he distrusted. Thus, a strong motivation was to create a political tool for the Emperor to pursue his policy and counteract papal influence. However, Frederick’s love for learning was an equally strong motivation. Nevertheless, during the Emperor’s reign, the University closed down and had to be re-founded twice, in 1234 and in 1239. After Frederick’s death the University lost most of its splendor and faced a period of severe instability being shut and re-founded by the successive rulers.

The main premise of the University of Naples (where the Interest Groups meetings will take place) survived the years of World War II. Though often bombarded, it did not undergo severe damage. The Fifties and Sixties saw an expansion of the University and entire schools were moved into newly developing areas of the city. Although new universities have been established in Southern Italy and in the Campania region, student enrollment in Naples increased steadily in the Seventies and the early Eighties to over 100,000 making the University of Naples one of the largest in the country. Nowadays the university is made up of thirteen schools, eighty two departments, an academic staff of more than 3,000 individuals and an administrative staff of more than 4,500.

Current student enrollment is still about 100,000.

More information on the university’s website.