Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico

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Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico
Real y Pontificia Universidad de México
Escudo de la Real y Pontificia Universidad de México.svg
Coat of arms of the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico
MottoPatriae scientiae que amor salus populi est
Motto in English
Knowledge and homeland love are the health of the people
Active21 September 1551–1865
AffiliationRoman Catholic

The Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico (in Spanish: Real y Pontificia Universidad de México) was founded on 21 September 1551 by Royal Decree signed by Charles I of Spain, in Valladolid, Spain.[1] It is generally considered the first university officially[2] founded in North America and second in the Americas (preceded by the National University of San Marcos in Lima, Peru, chartered on May 12 of the same year).

After the Mexican War of Independence it was renamed University of Mexico. When Mexican liberals were in power at intervals in the nineteenth century, it was closed, since liberals sought to put education in the hands of the state rather than the Roman Catholic Church, its first closure was in 1833, when Valentín Gómez Farías implemented liberal policies. When Antonio López de Santa Anna returned to power, the university was reopened, it was finally abolished in 1865 during the Second Mexican Empire by Maximilian I of Mexico.[3][4] Scattered institutions, including secularized successors of its faculties of law and medicine, other secular colleges founded by liberals on the model of the French grandes ecoles, and religious establishments outside Mexico City, continued without interruption.

In 1910, during the regime of Porfirio Díaz, Justo Sierra merged and expanded Mexico City's decentralized colleges of higher education, founding the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). UNAM is a public university and considered the institutional heir of the earlier original University of Mexico, but under state rather than church control.


The university was organized by five faculties: Theology, Laws, Fees, Medicine and Arts; the principal subjects or chairs (in Spanish, cátedras) were Prima and Vísperas, due to the first class being in the morning and the second at evening. The university granted different degrees such as bachiller, licenciado, maestro and doctor, which translate to bachelor, graduate, master and doctor respectively.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]


  1. ^ Olvera Arce, Guillermo (2000-05-20). "Real y Pontificia Universidad de México" (in Spanish). El Universal (Mexico City). Archived from the original on 2008-09-27.
  2. ^ Founded by Royal Decree of Charles I of Spain on September 12, 1551.
  3. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia (1911), Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Appleton, p. 260, ISBN 9780595392414
  4. ^ Charles A. Hale (2014), The Transformation of Liberalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Mexico, Princeton University Pres, p. 193, ISBN 9781400863228

See also[edit]