Since the 11th century "The Athens of the North"
“The Athens of the North"
Since the 11th century
he foundation of the University of Liège in 1817, upon the initiative of King William I of the Netherlands, was the culmination of a long intellectual tradition which dated back to the origins of the Principality of Liège. Starting from the 11th century, under the impulse of prince-bishops, the Liège schools constituted a pole of attraction for the students and researchers who came there to gain their first grades or, as Petrarch later on, to exploit the riches of the libraries.
If the reputation of the medieval schools gave Liège the nickname of the "Athens of the North" or "New Athens", what is to be said of the College which opened in 1496, at the very location of the current central building of the University, place du 20-Août? The Brethren of the Common Life were the promoters of a renovated teaching: the humanities.
At the end of the 16th century, the Jesuits replaced the Brethren in their own home. This site will then house, after the suppression of the Society of Jesus, the "Grand Collège en Ile", entrusted to the secular clergy by the prince-bishop Velbruck, enlightened prelate who reorganised into an English Academy the College of English Jesuits, located in Liège since 1614, and gave rise to a high level of technical education.