When it comes to European universities, the University of Cambridge will always come up on people’s minds. It is one of the oldest and most famous universities in the United Kingdom. Cambridge is even the top-ranked university in the United Kingdom as of 2019 according to all major league tables. It also attracts a lot of visitors from all over the world. But how did this amazing university first begin its journey?
The University of Cambridge was founded in around the 13th century by academics from the University of Oxford who pretty much was not fond of Oxford. At around that time, some scholars at the University of Oxford had a dispute with the townspeople, which led them to leave Oxford and form the University of Cambridge. Oxford and Cambridge have similar distances from London, whereas Oxford lies to the west of London and Cambridge to the north.
Cambridge University has evolved over the centuries, but it actually started off as more like a collection of monasteries where you can only study Latin, Greek and Theology. Then, the students would live in houses with the teachers who were priests. Everything changed after King Henry VIII suppressed the monastery’s ways of living and teaching in 1536. It was then that the University of Cambridge changed its interests into studying outside of Theology and delve inside science.
As many great European universities at the time, Cambridge had a lot of traditions. One of them was saying grace in Latin before formal meals. This tradition is even preserved until this day. A less charming tradition was not letting women get degrees up until 1948, even when women had been studying and taking examinations in Cambridge for over 100 years. Only in 1998 that this university finally awarded degrees to female students who should have graduated before 1948.
Until about 1970, students still needed to pass exams in Latin in order to gain entrance to the university. The students even had to remain celibate until about the 19th century and theology was one of the main subjects until the industrial revolution. Isaac Newton, one of the famous alumni of Cambridge, studied a lot more theology than mathematics or physics. However, toward the end of the 19th century, a lot of wealthy patrons began giving money to create departments for study in Cambridge. This allowed the university to attract the best minds in science. From then on, the university grew even more when it comes to its studies and researches.
If you want to know how a university got so great, you have to know its history. The University of Cambridge had a lot of outstanding achievements that can be traced to roots in the university’s long history. That is why Cambridge is one of the most top ranked European universities in the world.