University of Siena

University of Siena

name =University of Siena
native_name =Università degli Studi di Siena
latin_name =

motto =
established =1240
type =State-supported
endowment =
staff =
rector =Silvano Focardi
students =20,000
undergrad =
postgrad =
doctoral =
city =Siena
state =
country =Italy
campus =
free_label =Sports teams
free =CUS Siena (
affiliations =Coimbra Group, IRUN
website = []
logo =

The University of Siena (Italian: "Università degli Studi di Siena", abbreviation: UNISI) in Siena, Tuscany is one of the oldest and first publicly funded universities in Italy. Originally called "Studium Senese", the University of Siena was founded in 1240. The University has around 20,000 studentscite web
title = Rapporto Nucleo di Valutazione 2006: Studenti e Carriere - POPOLAZIONE STUDENTESCA
publisher = Università degli Studi di Siena
url =
accessdate = 2008-04-05
] , nearly half of Siena's total population of around 54,000. Today, the University of Siena is best known for its Schools of Law and Medicine.


The early "studium"

On December 26, 1240, Ildebrandino Cacciaconti, the then podestà of Siena, signed a decree imposing a tax on citizens of Siena who rented rooms to students of the local "Studium Senese". The money from this tax went to pay for the salaries of the "maestri" (teachers) of this new studiumcite web
title=Short Story of University of Siena: 760 years of history
publisher=Università degli Studi di Siena
] . The studium was further supported when, in 1252, Pope Innocent IV declared both its teachers and students completely immune from taxes and forced labour levied on their person or property by the city of Siena [de Ridder-Symoens, "Universities in the Middle Ages". p93] . Moreover, the commune exempted teachers of law and Latin from military service and teachers of Latin were also excused from their duties as night watchmen. By the early 14th century, there were five teachers of Latin, logic and law and two doctors of natural sciences (medicine) [Waley, "Siena and the Sienese in the thirteenth century". p159] .

One of the most notable maestri of the School of Medicine was Pietro Ispano (Pope John XXI). Ispano was an illustrious philosopher, personal doctor to Emperor Frederick II, and in 1276 became Pope John XXI.

In 1321, the studium was able to attract a larger number or pupils due to a mass exodus from the prestigious neighbouring University of Bologna when one of its students was sentenced to death by Bologna's magistrates for supposedly kidnapping a young woman. Partly at the instigation of their law lecturer Guglielmo Tolomei, the student body there unleashed a great protest at the Bolognese authority and Siena, supported by generous funding from the local commune, was able to accommodate the students resigning from the "Studium Bolongese".

The university under changing states

The studium of Siena was eventually promoted to the status of "Studium Generale" by Charles IV, shortly after his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in 1355 [de Ridder-Symoens, "Universities in the Middle Ages". p.97] . This both placed the teachers and students under the safeguard of the imperial authority (protecting them from the local magistracy) and also meant that the licences ("licentiae docendi") granted by the university were licences "ubique docendi". These licences entitled the person receiving them to teach throughout Christendom [de Ridder-Symoens, "Universities in the Middle Ages". p36] .

The "Casa della Sapienza" was built in the early 1400s as a center combining classrooms and housing for those enrolled in the Studium. It had been proposed by bishop Mormille in 1392, was completed twenty years later, and its first occupants took up residence in 1416. Room and board in 1416 cost fifty gold florins for a semester.

By the mid-14th century, Siena had declined as a power in Tuscany, eclipsed by the rise in power of Florence, who successfully defeated the Republic of Siena in 1555. The city authorities, however, successfully asked the Medici (the hereditary dukes of Florence at the time) to preserve the academy. Francesco and later Grand Duke Ferdinando I, reforms were made with new statutes and new preogatives. The post of "Rettore" (Rector), elected by students and city magistrates, was also instituted.

In 1737, the Medici line became extinct and the rule of Tuscany passed to the French House of Lorraine. In this period, the Tuscan economist Sallustio Bandini, seemingly determined to "improve the intellectual stimulation of his native Siena" solicited scholarships from rich patrons for the university and also set up a large library, which he eventually bequeathed to the university [Wahnbaeck, "Luxury and public happiness". p96] .

In 1808, when the Napoleonic forces occupied Tuscany, they eliminated the "Studium Senese" and the doors of the University were not opened again until after the defeat of Napoleon and the restoration of Ferdinand III as the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

The university in the "Risorgimento"

During the "Risorgimento", the movement towards the unification of Italy as a single state, Sienese students organised groups which were openly patriotic. They publicly expressed their dissent and, during the April of the 1848 revolts in Tuscany, three professors, one assistant and fifty-five students formed the "Compagnia della Guardia Universitaria" to participate in the battles of Curtatone and of Montanara. The troop’s flag is still preserved in the Chancellor’s building. All of this passion for the new republic could not but trouble the Grand Duke and in the end he closed down the School of Medicine permitting only Law and Theology to continue

After the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 and its aftermath, Tuscany and with it Siena were controlled by the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was to become the Kingdom of Italy. The Sienese academy eventually recovered from the unrest, thanks to initiatives by the city’s private enterprises and a series of legislative acknowledgements that boosted the reputation of the School of Pharmacy and that of Obstetrics (and consequently the School of Medicine itself) while the old hospital Santa Maria della Scala was transformed into General University Hospital. Some time later in 1880, the Law Faculty established the "Circolo Giuridico" or Legal Circle, where issues pertaining to law studies were examined in depth through seminars and lectures

The university in modern Italy

In 1892 the Minister of Public Education, Ferdinando Martini, launched a proposal aimed at suppressing the Sienese academy’s activities. Siena perceived this as a declaration of war and was backed immediately by a general tradesmen’s strike, the intervention of all of the town’s institutions and by a genuine uprising of the population – all of which induced to minister to withdraw the project. Having escaped this danger, the town went back to investing its resources in the university setting up new degrees and new faculties. The bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena financed the construction of the biology department.

The 19th century witnessed the constant growth of the University of Siena, with the student population escalating from four hundred between the wars to more than 20 thousand in the last few years

During the start of the academic year, on November 7th, 1990 the Sienese academy celebrated its 750th anniversary.

Notable students, alumni and faculty

*Francesco Accarigi (c. 1557-1622), professor of civil law
*Pietro Ispano (c. 1215-1277)


The University is composed of 9 Schools:

* The School of Economics
* The School of Engineering
* The School of Humanities and Philosophy
* The School of Humanities and Philosophy - Arezzo
* The School of Jurisprudence
* The School of Mathematical Sciences, Physical and Natural
* The School of Medicine and Surgery
* The School of Pharmacy
* The School of Political Science

In Siena there are no borders delineating the world of the city and that of the university. The Anglo-Saxon model of "university" as a "city within a city," in some way detached from the community in which it stands, does not portray the situation here.

Siena’s campus is the city. The academy lives as an integral part of the urban fabric in both space and time. Thus there is an uneasy equilibrium between city and university, where 20 thousand students lived among the 50 thousand Sienese. While the Sienese are proud of their native traditions, the more polyglot university prides itself on diversity, with which as the historian Guicciardini would put it, "non havvi genio" - there is no genius.

Recently, the University has returned historical buildings to the city, which are being made into apartments or used by the contradas. At the same time, it is thanks to the intervention of the University that many buildings which risked falling into ruin were saved, making institutions of study out of a part of the city patrimony that might have otherwise been lost. The Faculties of Engineering and Literature, for example, have found space for their departments in the large rooms of what was once the San Niccolò Psychiatric Hospital. The same holds true for the transformation of the former Convent of Santa Chiara into the first collegiate residence in Italy, reserved for those working towards a European postgraduate degree.

New university buildings have even been built in the city centre such as the one that houses the Faculty of Political Science and Law, whose architectural style blends with the secular surroundings creating a balance between preservation and innovation. The ten university dormitories are adapted to the urban fabric and are located within the historical centre (Fontebranda, Porrione, Sperandie, San Marco), on the outskirts (Acquacalda) and near the extended areas of the university (San Miniato).

Points of interest

* Orto Botanico dell'Università di Siena, the university's botanical garden

ee also

* Coimbra Group (a network of leading European universities)
* List of Italian universities
* Siena

External links

* [ University of Siena Website] it icon en icon
* [ Siena University Forum]
* [ Siena OnLine - University] it icon en icon
*CathEncy|title=University of Siena|url=



* de Ridder-Symoens, Hilde: "A History of the University in Europe, Volume 1: Universities in the Middle Ages." Cambridge University Press, 1992 ISBN 0-521-54113-1
* Waley, Daniel: "Siena and the Sienese in the thirteenth century." Cambridge University Press, 1991 ISBN 0-521-40312-X
* Wahnbaeck, Till: "Luxury and Public Happiness: Political Economy in the Italian Enlightenment" Oxford University Press, 2004 ISBN 0-199-26983-1

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