Famous people, guests and illustrious students

Right from the outset, the Studium in Bologna hosted numerous illustrious guests and scholars.
Statue of Carducci

The first recorded scholars were Pepone and Irnerio, the latter of whom was defined as "lucerna iuris". With the advice of four "doctores" thought to be their pupils, in 1158 Frederick I promulgated the Constitutio Habita, in which the University was legally declared a place where research could develop independently from any other power.

The fame of the Studium spread throughout Europe and many English scholars also came to study in Bologna. Perhaps the most famous of these was Thomas Becket. But in the following centuries Bologna was visited by other illustrious scholars and students: Pico della Mirandola and Leon Battista Alberti, who studied canonical law, and in 1506 Erasmus of Rotterdam, a student of almost forty, came to study here for a year.

In the same period, Nicolaus Copernicus, a member of the Germanic nation, was completing his three years of study in Bologna. While studying pontifical law, he began his astronomical observations and, in his work "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" remembers one particular observation in Bologna on the night of 9 March 1497. And again, Paracelso, Abrecht Dürer, San Carlo Borromeo, Torquato Tasso, Carlo Goldoni.

Legend has it that a woman taught in Bologna between the 12th and 13th centuries, Bettisia Gozzadini. It is said that, attracting huge crowds, her lessons were held not in the classroom but in the public squares.

In the 15th century Greek and Hebrew studies were instituted, and in the 16th century those of "natural magic", experimental science. The philosopher Pietro Pomponazzi upheld the study of the laws of nature against the traditionalist position of Theology and Philosophy. A representative figure of this period was Ulisse Aldrovandi, whose contribution ranged from pharmacopoeia to the study of animals, fossils, and marvels of nature which he collected and classified.

The 17th century is an important period for Bologna medicine and it coincides with the teaching of Marcello Malpighi who was called to Bologna as a lecturer in the theory of extraordinary medicine, passing to ordinary medicine in 1660. 

The University of Bologna admitted women teachers right from the 12th century. The opening to female scholars became clear in the 18th century. The new ideas of Enlightenment were changing old prejudices, and the whole of Europe was debating the issue of women's culture. Among the most famous women teachers we may remember Laura Bassi: in 1732 she was given the chair in philosophy, and in 1776 the chair in experimental physics, teaching Logic, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Chemistry, Hydraulics, Mathematics, Mechanics, Algebra, Geometry, Ancient and Modern Languages.

In the 18th century, the University fostered scientific and technological development. In this period came the studies of Luigi Galvani who, along with Alessandro Volta, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Cavendish, was one of the founders of modern electrotechnical studies.
Following the establishment of the United Italian State came a period of great prosperity for the University of Bologna, in which the figures of Giovanni Capellini, Giosuè Carducci, Giovanni Pascoli, Augusto Righi, Federigo Enriques, Giacomo Ciamician, Augusto Murri.