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Montpellier University

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Medical College

Montpellier was only two centuries old in 1181, when its Lord Guilhem VIII signed a surprising and far-reaching edict.
He declared that anyone, regardless of religion or background, could teach medicine in Montpellier... And thus was born,
at the end of the 12th century, what is today's oldest operating medical school in the occidental world.

The oldest college of medicine in France
Forty years later, in 1220, the College of Medicine was made official in Montpellier.
A new future for the city
This new body changed the city's future and gave it unprecedented international influence.
The college did not have buildings of its own until the early 14th Century and lectures were given in the Regent's residence, while consultations were held in Saint Firmin church. Contemporary engravings in the College's anatomy museum show the realities of these teachings with scenes of dissections being carried out in front of students.
In 1340, the University founded an anatomy course which soon raised its reputation and consequently attracted students from all over Europe.
Some highly prestigious practitioners
A large number of doctors came to train in Montpellier, some of whom have been recognized throughout history.
In 1556, the College was the first in France to construct a lecture theatre dedicated to the examination of corpses.In 1593, the first botanical gardens were completed; these were created by Richer de Belleval, a doctor who was the chair of anatomy and botany, and were entirely dedicated to medicinal plants. They still exist today.

Among the great practitioners who instructed at the College and the famous personalities who came to study there, the most notable are Arnaud de Villeneuve, Gui de Chauliac, Nostradamus, Jean d'Alais and Petrus Hispanus, and the future Pope Jean XXI. also among their ranks were Guillaume Rondelet and François Rabelais, who obtained their doctorate of medicine here, François de Lapeyronie, the King's surgeon who treated the sovereigns of Europe and founded the Academy of Surgery, and later, Paul-Joseph Barthez, a personal doctor to Louis XVI and Bonaparte, the founder of biology.

In 1795, Jean-Antoine Chaptal, professor of chemistry, established a decree attributing to the university a former monastery adjoining the Saint-Pierre cathedral. This is the current College, which houses amongst other treasures, a library of 900 manuscript volumes, 300 works dating from the early days of printing (incunabula), 100,000 volumes printed before 1800, and all the theses from the College of Montpellier and Paris since the 17th Century.

The great lecture hall, the Henri IV building, the anatomy building and the Institute of Biology were added in the 19th Century.