Jubilatio Walking Tour

The Birth of the University and of the Mendicant Orders
(Franciscans and Dominicans) in the 13th Century. (1)

The tour map (time: about 45 minutes + visits to museums and other monuments)

Departure: Café Scénique, Place du Panthéon.

Start at the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. Brief history of schools in the Middle Ages. They were dependent on ecclesiastical institutions: bishoprics or cathedrals, abbeys, parishes. At the top of Mount Sainte-Geneviève, the school of Saint-Victor was opened in 1108. Pierre Abélard opened another school in Paris in 1136. In the year 1200, Philippe Auguste,King of France, recognized the autonomy of the universitas vis-à-vis royal and ecclesiastical authorities.

  • go down the rue Soufflot until you get to the rue Saint-Jacques

The first Dominican priory in Paris, the Couvent de Saint-Jacques, was so named because of its geographical location: it stood by the walls of the city, on the street that pilgrims set out on to go from Notre-Dame Cathedral to Santiago de Compostela (in French, Saint-Jacques de Compostelle). Hence the name "Jacobins" by which the Friars were known. Among those who lived in this priory and who taught at the university of Paris were Saint Albert the Great (1240-1248), Saint Thomas Aquinas (on and off for several years), Master Eckart (1302-1303 and 1311-1312).

  • go down the rue Soufflot until you get to the Luxembourg Gardens

The first Franciscan priory within the city of Paris stood on a plot of land in this area. The history of this priory is short: it fell down in Saint Francis' lifetime. Following this accident, the Franciscans established a house not far from there, near the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

You may, if you wish, examine a parchment in the Library of the Sorbonne dating from the year 1221 in which the word universitas is used for the first time. The word designates the corporation of Masters (Professors) and students of Paris.

A visit in the Musée de Cluny, also known as the Museum for the Middle Ages. Here you'll find an exceptionally beautiful collection of stained-glass windows, statuary and tapestries from this period. The building itself was originally a private mansion and dates from the end of the 15th century. Just next door, you can also wander around the thermal baths, vestiges of the gallo-roman city of Lutetia.

Mise à jour : 19 juillet 1997.