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Unife History

The University of Ferrara, one of Italy’s oldest universities, has welcomed and educated illustrious personalities from the worlds of culture, the Arts and Science, such as Nicholas Copernicus and Paracelsus.

The University of Ferrara was founded in 1391 by the Marquise Alberto V of Este with the permission of Pope Boniface IX.  The first courses to be inaugurated were Arts, Theology and Law and were taught by famous teachers such as Bartolomeo Saliceto, an expert among jurists.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Ferrara became one of the most thriving centers of Italian Renaissance culture and the University enjoyed a period of great prestige, thanks  also to the presence of illustrious intellectuals such as Nicholas Copernicus and Paracelsus.  After its assimilation into the Papal State in 1598, the University was transformed from a prestigious Estensi City University to a University in the outskirts.  In the Napoleonic Age, with the plan for national universities, the University lost its power to grant degree titles and normal academic activity did not resume until 1816.  After the unification of Italy, the University of Ferrara became a free university.  In the years preceding the First World War, with over 500 students, the University was the most highly attended free university in Italy. The identity of the University is therefore rooted in a historical and cultural tradition which sets it apart from others.  Since its foundation it has welcomed and educated illustrious personalities from the worlds of Culture, the Arts and the Sciences.  In terms of its size, facilities and the quality and quantity of education and research, the university is a point of excellence within Italy.  This is also demonstrated  by its excellent position in international rankings.


Nicholas Copernicus

b. 1473 Torun, Pomerania - d. 1543 Frauenburg

The Polish astronomer was the author of “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium”, in which the Ptolemaic conception is overturned, presenting a system in which the sun is the center of the universe.
The Copernican theory is fundamental for the development of astronomic science and represents the beginning of modern astronomy.



b.1493 Einsiedeln, Switzerland - d. 1541 Salzburg

A physician and philosopher, he was one of the most important and complex figures of Renaissance science.
He integrated Aristotle’s theory of the four elements and rejected the traditional teachings of medicine, thus giving life to a new discipline: iatrochemistry, based on the treatment of diseases using mineral substances.


Giovanni Pico of Mirandola

b. 1463 Mirandola (Mo) - d. 1494 Florence

One of the most celebrated Italian philosophers and humanists, he was a friend of Marsilio Ficino, Lorenzo the Magnificent and Angelo Poliziano.
Among his most famous works are “Oratio de hominis dignitate” and the nine hundred articles containing philosophical and theological problems.




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