Charles University

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Charles University
Univerzita Karlova
Universitas Carolina
founding 1348
Sponsorship state
place Prague , with branch offices in Königgrätz and Pilsen
country Czech Republic
Rector Tomáš Zima
Students 48,475 (2018)
Employee 8098 (2014)
including professors 675 (2014)
Annual budget 9,000,000,000 CZK (2014)
Networks 4EU + , CG , IAU
The Collegium Carolinum from the 14th century

The Charles University ( Czech Univerzita Karlova , Latin Universitas Carolina ) is the largest university in the Czech Republic and the oldest university in Central Europe. It has 17 faculties and more than 50,000 students, about one sixth of all students in the Czech Republic . It also ranks ( Shanghai Ranking 2011) among the first 1.5% of the best universities in the world (201-300).

The University of Prague was founded on April 7, 1348 by Charles IV . The first chancellor was the Prague archbishop Ernst von Pardubitz . Between 1417 and 1622, Charles University in the Bohemian capital was a center of the Protestant movement . 1654 united Ferdinand III. Charles University with the Jesuit college founded in 1556 in the Clementinum . The university was then called Karl Ferdinand University . In 1882 it was divided into a Czech and a German university. In 1920 the Czech university was declared the sole legal successor to the medieval Charles University and renamed again to Univerzita Karlova . The German University of Prague existed until 1945.

The European Credit Transfer System has been implemented at Charles University since 2001 and, in addition to courses in Czech , there are also programs in English and German.


Foundation and medieval university (1347–1419)

Josef Mathias Trenkwald : Foundation of the University of Prague
The seal shows Charles IV standing with his coat of arms as Roman King and King of Bohemia and kneeling St. Wenceslaus as the patron saint of Bohemia

Under Emperor Charles IV (Karel IV) and his son Wenceslaus IV (Václav IV), the city of Prague reached a boom in economic, cultural and political terms in the second half of the 14th century. Pope Clement VI granted on January 26, 1347 through a papal bull the privilege of founding a university. On April 7, 1348, Charles IV was founded by a letter of foundation from Charles IV, modeled on the Universitas magistrorum et scholarium in Paris, as "Studium generale" and the first university in Eastern Central Europe ("Alma Mater Carolina"). Charles IV signed this letter of foundation in his capacity as King of Bohemia. In the name of the Holy Roman Empire , he confirmed the privilege with the Eisenach diploma of January 14, 1349.

Monument in honor of Charles IV, the founder of the university, by Ernst Hähnel
Historical core - the Auditorium maximum of the Collegium Carolinum (founded in 1366)

Prague University attracted students not only from Bohemia , but also from Saxony , Bavaria , Silesia and the rest of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as from France , England and Italy . It was structured along the lines of the Paris University and taught in the four classical faculties : theology, law, medicine and philosophy. Special subjects that could not be easily inserted into this scheme, such as the disciplines of fine arts , rhetoric or mathematics , were assigned to the philosophical faculty, which was therefore also referred to as the artist faculty . The Magisters and Scholars were assigned to four nations according to their origin : Bohemia, Poland, Bavaria and Saxony. The Nationes are composed as follows:

The first graduation took place in 1359. The Faculty of Law was outsourced in 1372 as an independent university.

The Kuttenberg Decree (Decree kutnohorský)

With the Kuttenberg decree (Czech decree kutnohorský , after the town of Kuttenberg or Kutná Hora ) of January 18, 1409, the Bohemian King Wenceslaus IV, who had been deposed as Roman king years earlier, changed the voting ratio in the bodies of Charles University in Prague. This step was initiated by Jan Hus , the spokesman for the Bohemian Nation in the university. So if the Nationes of Bohemia, Bavaria, Saxony and Poland each had one vote up to now, the Bohemians now received 3 votes, while the others together only received one. The background was that the cardinals gathered in the Council of Pisa , Gregory XII. and the antipope Benedict XIII. wanted to depose and wooed the support of the King of Bohemia. But this decided, until the final decision of the council, to be neutral towards both popes. In May 1409, many of the German students and professors left Charles University in Prague. About 1000 students and professors went to Leipzig and founded the University of Leipzig there . The German-speaking teachers Peter von Dresden , Nikolaus and Friedrich von Dresden, who were supporters of the Hussites , took over the Dresden Cross School .

The Hussites were now the Pope and the Council of Constance to heretics declared. The University of Prague, however, officially adopted the Hussite creed in 1417. In the course of the 15th century, this led to the university being largely isolated from the rest of the European university landscape and its importance declined. From then on, Bohemian Utraquists studied and taught in Prague .

Protestant center (1417-1622)

The artist faculty became a center for the Hussites and an ideological center for the Utraquists . Graduations could not be made in 1417–1430, and at times there were just eight or nine professors.

Their teachers helped formulate the Prague Articles, but after the death of Johann von Seelau (1422), Masters were arrested and banned, colleges and churches were destroyed. The situation did not calm down until 1431, but graduations did not take place again until 1440, and at that time there was not a single master's degree in theology or law. The mutual interest in a reconciliation with the Pope led to the papal recognition of the lay chalice in Bohemia and Moravia in 1447 - and to the resumption of teaching. But as early as 1448, when Prague was conquered by the party of George of Podebrady, new quarrel broke out and because teachers and students had to swear to keep the compacts, most foreigners and a number of local teachers and students left the university. The university then limited itself to the artist faculty and almost merged with the "Lower Consistory", an episcopal chancellery similar to that.

The university and its colleges had lost most of their assets during the Hussite Wars , and in the 15th century, although several estates and villages were regained in 1471–1526, all students came from the utraquist regions of Bohemia; neither from other countries, nor even from Moravia. After 1500 the voices criticizing the deplorable state of the university education became louder: The pastor of the Teynkirche Jakob calls the Charles University “a rusty jewel” and most talented young people still stayed away from it to study elsewhere. The conservative university opposed the Catholic rulers, it received support only from the bourgeoisie, but was very dependent on the political upheavals in the town halls. Together with the “rebellious” cities, the university was punished by Ferdinand I even after 1547 .

In 1556 the Jesuits came to Prague at the invitation of the Roman-German and Bohemian King Ferdinand I (Emperor from 1558) and founded a philosophical-theological college at the Clementinum , which also had the right to obtain a doctorate. In 1609 a reform came about through the majesty of Emperor Rudolf II . The Catholic Clementinum acted as a strong competitor to the utraquist university and was elevated to a Catholic university in 1616.

In 1618 the Utraquist University took an active part in the bohemian uprising against the Catholic Habsburgs. After the defeat of the estates, the university lost its autonomy, was handed over to the Jesuits and re-Catholicized.

Association and State University (1622–1882)

In 1638 the medical and law faculties were established. Emperor Ferdinand III. in 1654 united the Clementinum with the Charles University. From then until the end of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1918, the university was called Universitas Carolo-Ferdinandea . In 1718 the baroque reconstruction of the Karolinum and in 1724 the astronomical tower , mirror chapel and library room at the Clementinum were completed, under the direction of Franz Maximilian Kaňka .

After the abolition of the Jesuit order, the university became a state institution in 1773. A far-reaching university reform began in 1781 under Emperor Josef II. For the first time since 1622, non-Catholics were allowed to study again. In 1784 the university's own jurisdiction was abolished and German was declared the main language of instruction, although some lectures continued to be given in Latin and some in Czech.

Bilingual invitation to lectures on Bohemian Studies given in Czech by FM Pelzel 1793

In the course of the revolution of 1848/1849 in the Austrian Empire , the Whitsun uprising in Prague took place . Both German and Czech students and professors took part in the protests. In addition to demands for freedom of research and teaching, the proportion of courses in the Czech language should be increased.

Division of the university (1882)

Around 1860, only about a third of Prague's residents spoke German as their mother tongue. In contrast, only about 1% of the courses at Prague University were held in the Czech language. Due to protests, the university was divided by law of February 28, 1882, making it practically two universities:

These represented institutions that were independent of each other, with medical and scientific facilities, the botanical garden and the library being used jointly, which, however, like the medieval insignia, remained in the administration of the German part of the university.

Czechoslovakia (1918–1939)

After the dissolution of the Habsburg monarchy Austria-Hungary and the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic (ČSR) , the “Law on the Relationship between Prague Universities” (Zákon č. 135/1920 Sb. Z. A n., O poměru pražských universit) decided. Through this so-called "Lex Mareš", named after František Mareš , the Czech university was declared the sole legal successor of Charles University and renamed "Univerzita Karlova", renouncing the name of the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand. The German university, on the other hand, stuck to the name "Karl Ferdinand University". Since the Czech Charles University was designated as the legal successor to the old medieval university, but the medieval insignia remained with the German Karl Ferdinand University, the so-called insignia dispute (Insigniáda) occurred in 1934 .

German occupation (1939–1945)

After the " smashing of the rest of Czechia " and the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia , the German university was taken over into the Reich administration on August 2, 1939 and renamed the "German Charles University in Prague". After student uprisings, Charles University in the Czech Republic was closed for an initial three years in November 1939. As part of the so-called special action in Prague , nine alleged "ringleaders" were shot dead, several hundred students and 55 professors and lecturers were deported to concentration camps. Some of the Czech students graduated from the University of Oxford .

After the Second World War (1945 to the present day)

When, if not now?
Who, if not we?

On November 17, 1989, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the closure of Czech universities in 1939, an approved student demonstration took place in which, according to state security, 15,000 people took part and which was then forcibly disbanded by security forces.

Decree No. 122 of the Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš of October 18, 1945, decreed the dissolution of the German University in Prague, retroactively to November 17, 1939, the day the Czech university was closed. As part of the takeover by the communists academic freedom has been tweaked and redesigned the University of the Soviet model. This also had an impact on international relations and research opportunities. Nevertheless, research results could be achieved at a high level. A notable example is the research of Jaroslav Heyrovský , who received the Nobel Prize in 1959 for his development of polarography .

A wave of repression against teachers and students from 1969 onwards resulted from the involvement of university members in the events of the Prague Spring . The Velvet Revolution on November 17, 1989, on the other hand, was not only an important event for Czech society as a whole, but the end of state socialism also gave the university a new boost. Far-reaching reforms have started.

Universitas Carolina

As a result of the Bologna Declaration , Charles University in Prague introduced new degrees in 2001 and implemented the European Credit Transfer System . Currently (as of 2015) 270 different degrees can be achieved in the 17 faculties. It is taught in the Czech language; programs are increasingly being offered in English and German.

Since September 2016, Charles University has had her name without a name extension.

Campus and Organization


The university is spread over the entire urban area of ​​Prague. Other locations are in Hradec Králové and Plzeň . The historical core from the 14th century - the Karolinum, is located in Prague's old town and is also the center of university life. Here is the seat of the Rector and the Senate . Official academic ceremonies such as matriculation and graduation ceremonies are also held here .


The 17 faculties of the Charles University are divided as follows:

  • Catholic Theological Faculty (Katolická teologická fakulta)
  • Evangelical Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague (Evangelická teologická fakulta)
  • Hussite Theological Faculty (Husitská teologická fakulta)
  • Faculty of Law (Právnická fakulta)
  • 1st Medical Faculty of Charles University (1st lékařská fakulta)
  • 2. Faculty of Medicine (2. lékařská fakulta)
  • 3. Faculty of Medicine (3. lékařská fakulta)
  • Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen (Lékařská fakulta v Plzni)
  • Medical Faculty in Hradec Králové (Lékařská fakulta v Hradci Králové)
  • Pharmaceutical Faculty in Hradec Králové (Farmaceutická fakulta v Hradci Králové)
  • Philosophical Faculty (Filozofická fakulta)
  • Faculty of Natural Sciences (Přírodovědecká fakulta)
  • Faculty of Mathematics and Physics (Matematicko-fyzikální fakulta)
  • Faculty of Education (Pedagogická fakulta)
  • Faculty of Social Sciences (Faculty sociálních věd)
  • Faculty of Sports Education and Sports Science (Faculty tělesné výchovy a sportu)
  • Faculty of Humanities (Faculty humanitních studií)

Institutes and central departments

Blackboard at the Institute for Languages ​​and Technical Training (UJOP)
  • Charles University History Institute and University Archives (Ústav dějin UK a Archiv UK)
  • Institute of Information Technology (Ústav výpočetní techniky)
  • Institute for Languages ​​and Technical Training (Ústav jazykové a odborné přípravy)
  • Central Library (Ústřední knihovna UK)
  • Center for Theoretical Studies (Centrum pro teoretická studia)
  • Center for Economic Studies and Doctoral Studies (Centrum pro ekonomický výzkum a doktorské studium)
  • Center for Environmental Issues (Centrum pro otázky životního prostředí)
  • Center for knowledge and technology transfer (Centrum pro přenos poznatků a technologií)
  • Agency of the Council for Higher Education (Agentura Rady vysokých škol)

Special departments

Archbishop's seminary
  • Dormitories and canteens (Koleje a menzy)
  • Archbishop's seminar (Arcibiskupský seminář)
  • Karolinum Publishing House (Nakladatelství Karolinum)
  • Management of buildings and facilities (Správa budov a zařízení)
  • Sports center (Sportovní centrum)

University Medicine

With five medical faculties, Charles University is the largest medical educational institution in the Czech Republic. Seven university clinics are attached to the faculties . Five of these clinics are used by the three Prague faculties and one each by the faculties in Pilsen and Hradec Králové .

  • Faculty Thomayerova nemocnice (Thomayer University Hospital)
  • Fakní nemocnice Na Bulovce (University Clinic Na Bulovce)
  • Všeobecná fakultní nemocnice (General Faculty Hospital)
  • Kompetenzní nemocnice v Motole ( Motol University Hospital )
  • Kompetenzní nemocnice Královské Vinohrady (University Hospital Royal Vineyards)
  • Fakní nemocnice Plzeň (University Hospital Pilsen)
  • Fakní nemocnice v Hradci Králové (University Hospital Königgrätz)

Five other clinics are located at the Prague Military Central Hospital (Ústřední vojenská nemocnice Praha) . Other medical institutions in Prague are also involved in university medicine.

Since 2004 there has been a cooperation agreement between the 1st Medical Faculty of the Charles University and the Chemnitz Clinic for cooperation on the international course in human medicine.

Memberships and cooperations

International memberships

Coimbra group
  • The Magna Charta Observatory
  • International Forum for Public Universities
  • Coimbra group
  • Danube Rectors 'Conference (Danube Rectors' Conference)
  • European Association for International Education
  • European University Association
  • The Europaeum
  • International Association of Universities
  • OECD / IMHE - Program on Institutional Management in Higher Education
  • Institutional Network of the Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA)

Strategic partnerships

Personalities (selection)


Professors and lecturers



Asteroids (2288) Karolinum and (4339) Almamater were named after the university .


  • Mitchell Ash , Jan Surman: The Nationalization of Scientific Knowledge in the Habsburg Empire, 1848-1918. Palgrave Macmillan, London 2014, ISBN 978-1-349-33112-3 .
  • Ivana Čornejová, Michal Svatoš, Petr Svobodný: History of Charles University - Vol. 1: 1348–1802. Karolinum, Praha 2001, ISBN 80-246-0021-8
  • Renate Dix: Early history of the Prague University. Bonn 1988, DNB 891268510 (Dissertation University of Bonn 1988, 782 pages, graphic representation).
  • Annette Großbongardt, Uwe Klußmann, Norbert Pötzl: The Germans in Eastern Europe. Conquerors, settlers, displaced people. 2nd edition, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-421-04527-0 .
  • Jan Havránek, Zdeněk Pousta: History of Charles University - Vol. 2: 1802–1990. Karolinum, Praha 2001, ISBN 80-246-0022-6 .
  • Jan Havránek, The Czech Universities under the Communist Dictatorship, in: John Connelly / Michael Grüttner (eds.): Between Autonomy and Adaptation. Universities in the dictatorships of the 20th century, Schöningh, Paderborn 2003, pp. 157–171.
  • Dušan Kováč, Jiří Pešek, Roman Prahl: Culture as a vehicle and as an opponent of political intentions. Cultural contacts between Germans, Czechs and Slovaks from the mid-19th century to the 1980s. Klartext, Essen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8375-0480-4 .
  • Hans Lemberg (Hrsg.): Universities in national competition. On the history of the Prague universities in the 19th and 20th centuries (= publications of the Collegium Carolinum . Volume 86). Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-486-56392-0 . ( Table of contents )
  • Harald Lönnecker : "... voluntarily never to leave here ..." The Prague German student body 1867–1945 (= treatises on student and higher education. Volume 16). SH-Verlag, Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-89498-187-7 .
  • Alena Míšková: Německá (Karlova) univerzita od Mnichova k 9. květnu 1945 (vedení univerzity a obměna profesorského sboru) . Univerzita Karlova, Nakladatelství Karolinum, Praha 2002, p. 19. ISBN 80-246-0129-X .
  • Blanka Mouralová (Ed.): The Prague University of Charles IV. From the European founding to the national division. German Cultural Forum for Eastern Europe, Potsdam 2010, ISBN 978-3-936168-37-2 .
  • Frank Rexroth : German University Foundations from Prague to Cologne. The intention of the founder and the ways and chances of their realization in the late medieval territorial state. Cologne u. a 1992, pp. 59-107.
  • Wenceslaus Wladiwoj Tomek : History of Prague University. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding of the same. Hofbuchdruckerei Gottlieb Haase Sons, Prague 1849, 378 pages ( online ).
  • Emanuel Turczynski: The division of the Prague University in 1882 and the intellectual disintegration in the Bohemian countries. Oldenbourg, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-486-51891-7 . Digitized
  • Teresa Wróblewska: The Imperial Universities of Posen, Prague and Strasbourg as models of National Socialist universities in the areas occupied by Germany , Wydawnictwo Adam Marszalek, Toruń 2000, ( H-Soz-Kult review , September 12, 2001), ISBN 83-7174-674-1 .

Web links

Commons : Charles University Prague  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. Annual Report 2018 ; accessed on April 26, 2020
  2. ^ List of IAU Members. In: International Association of Universities, accessed July 25, 2019 .
  3. ^ About the University
  4. ^ Charles University in Prague | Academic Ranking of World Universities - 2015 | World University Rankings - 2015 | Shanghai Ranking - 2015. Retrieved May 27, 2018 .
  5. iForum - časopis Univerzity Karlovy: Shanghai Ranking: Charles University among 1.5 percent of world's best universities. August 22, 2011, accessed June 5, 2016 .
  6. Milada Řihová: Classes at the Prague Medical Faculty in the Middle Ages. In: Würzburger medical history reports 17, 1998, pp. 163–173; here: p. 163.
  7. Franz Machilek: Church and University in the late Middle Ages. The foundations in Prague and Erfurt. In: Peter Wörster (Hrsg.): Universities in Eastern Central Europe. Between church, state and nation - social-historical and political developments. Oldenbourg, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-486-58494-3 , pp. 165-194, here: p. 176.
  8. Wenceslaus Wladiwoj Tomek : History of the University of Prague - Written to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the foundation , Prague 1849, p. 4 .
  9. František Palacký: History of Bohemia - mostly based on documents and manuscripts , Volume 2, Part 2: Bohemia under the House of Luxembourg, until the death of Emperor Charles IV - years 1306–1378 , Prague 1850, p. 293 .
  10. Milada Řihová: Classes at the Prague Medical Faculty in the Middle Ages. In: Würzburger medical history reports 17, 1998, pp. 163–173.
  11. See e.g. B. Josef Dobrovský: State of the University of Prague , Bohemian Literature, Volume 1 (1779), p. 12 ff .
  12. Album, see Matricula Facultatis juridicae, 1372–1418, e codice membranaceo illius aetatis nunc primum luce donatum: Codex diplomaticus universitatis ejusdem ( Latin ) 1834.
  13. Svatoš, Michal. (2010): The Kuttenberg Decree and the work of Magister Jan Hus at the University of Prague In: Mouralová, Blanka (Ed.): The University of Prague Charles IV. From the European founding to the national division. Pp. 45-70
  14. ^ The Kuttenberg Decree (Czech) , accessed on June 5, 2016.
  15. Univerzita Karlova v Praze - History Univerzity Karlovy v datech. In: 2016, accessed on June 5, 2016 (cz).
  16. Ivana Čornejová (mfd.): Dějiny Univerzity Karlovy II: 1622-1802 , Praha: Karloinum, 1996, pp 51-52.
  17. Zákonník říšský pro království a země v radě říšské zastoupené 1882 (Zákon č. 24/1882 ř. Z., Jenž se týče ck university Karlo-Ferdinandské v Praze.). In: Austrian National Library. February 28, 1882, accessed June 5, 2016 (cz).
  18. Zákon č. 135/1920 Sb. a n. ve Sbírce zákonů a nařízení státu československého PDF
  19. Havránek - Pousta (vyd.), Dějiny univerzity Karlovy IV. (1918–1990). Prague 1995.
  20. cf. Decree presidenta republiky č. 122/1945 Sb., O zrušení německé university v Praze.
  21. Čl. I bod 292 a čl. II bod 18 zákona č. 137/2016 Sb., Kterým se mění zákon č. 111/1998 Sb., O vysokých školách ao změně a doplnění dalších zákonů (zákon o vysokých školách), ve znění pozdějších předpisů, a některé další zákony. PDF
  22. Website of the international degree program in human medicine