Irish Students at Leuven University, 1548-1797


In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the Irish were by far the largest foreign student body at Leuven University.
After Henry VIIIs break with Rome, Irish catholic students were no longer welcome in Oxford and Cambridge and were obliged to turn to the continent for their education. Leuven was the fi rst university they attended. Already in 1548 there is a record of a William de Trehesse matriculating at Leuven University. For almost two centuries Leuven had no less than three Irish Colleges: the Franciscan College of St. Anthonys (1607), the Irish Pastoral College (1622/4) and the Dominican College of the Holy Cross (1624). In 1797 the French Revolution closed the university and all of its colleges.
Due to the abundance of the Leuven University archives, it has been possible to reconstruct the academic careers of almost 1200 Irish students. However, they dont represent all the Irish students to have attended Leuven University. Only a few Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits and other regulars are listed. The friars and fathers studied in their own colleges or in the study houses of their orders.
The majority of Irish secular students were destined for the priesthood and the Irish mission. A few studied law and many, surprisingly, medicine. Irish Leuven alumni provided no fewer than fi ve archbishops, twelve bishops and ten professors at Leuven University itself.
About the author:
Jeroen Nilis (°1967) holds an MA in early modern History (K.U.Leuven). Since twenty years he has been studying the Irish presence at Leuven University and elsewhere in the Spanish and Austrian Netherlands. This research resulted in several publications.
Verschenen in
Geschiedenis & Politiek
Aantal pagina’s
Laatste editie
19 maart 2010
Uitgeverij Acco C.V.

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