Collège de France

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Collège de France

(kôlĕzh` də fräNs), institution of higher learning founded in Paris, France, in 1529 by Francis IFrancis I,
1494–1547, king of France (1515–47), known as Francis of Angoulême before he succeeded his cousin and father-in-law, King Louis XII. Wars with the Holy Roman Emperor
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 at the instigation of Guillaume BudéBudé, Guillaume
, 1467–1540, French humanist, b. Paris. Budé, known also by the Latinized form of his name, Budaeus, was a towering figure of the Renaissance. He was secretary to Louis XII, coming to power and prestige under Francis I.
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. It was founded to encourage humanistic studies and has always been independent of any university and free from supervision. Its lectures are open to the public without matriculation or fee. It gives no examinations and grants no certificates or degrees. Now its range of studies encompasses numerous humanistic and scientific fields. Its faculty includes many distinguished scholars.

Collége de France


one of the oldest research and educational institutions in France, founded in 1530 by King Francis I. Under the influence of humanist ideas Francis I appointed a group of lecteurs royaux as an alternative to the entrenched interests of the religious scholastics of the University of Paris and other French universities. The lecteurs royaux were the foremost representatives of 16th-century French scholarship. The first lecteurs were P. Danés and J. Toussaint (Greek), A. Guidacerius, F. Vatable, and P. Paradis (Hebrew), O. Fine (mathematics), and B. Masson (Latin rhetoric). The study of ancient languages provided access to historical and literary sources that gave rise to new scholarly trends.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the lecteurs royaux constituted a corporation recognized by the state. By that time the Collège de France comprised about 20 chairs in literature, law, history, mathematics, physics, and the natural sciences. Eminent scholars who worked in the Collège de France during the 19th and early 20th century included J.-B. Delambre (mathematics); J. Hadamard (mechanics); A. Ampère, P. Langevin, and F. Joliot-Curie (physics); M. Berthelot (chemistry); C. Bernard (physiology); J. Hippolyte (philosophy); and A. Mazon (Russian language and literature).

By the decree of May 24, 1911, the institution’s task was defined as the promotion of scientific progress by scientific work and research; by instruction based on this research, without the awarding of academic degrees and diplomas; and by scientific expeditions abroad and publications. The College de France is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Education and is financed by the government, although a number of departments have been created with private funds.

In 1971–72, the Collège de France had 52 departments and a number of scientific laboratories in various fields. The institution does not have prescribed curricula and educational programs nor does it give examinations, since its students as a rule are holders of advanced degrees who wish to augment their training. Each year the professors of the departments select the subjects of lecture courses, which are directly related to their research. The lectures are open to the public. Among outstanding scholars now working at the Collège de France are J. Leray (mathematics), A. Lichnerowicz (mathematical physics), F. Perrin (atomic physics), J. Monod (molecular biology), F. Jacob (genetics), E. Wolff (experimental embryology), F. Perroux (economics), P. Lemerle (Byzantine history and civilization), and F. Braudel (history). In 1970 a department was created for foreign professors invited by the administration to lecture. In 1972, Soviet Academician L. A. Artsimovich delivered a series of lectures there.


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