Sorbonne sôrbônˈ [key], first endowed college in the Univ. of Paris, founded by Robert de Sorbon (1201–74), chaplain of Louis IX, and opened in 1253 for the purpose of providing quarters for theology students who were not friars. Gaining academic and theological distinction in the late Middle Ages and early modern times, the Sorbonne gained preponderance over its early mendicant college rivals, and Sorbonne doctors were frequently called upon to render opinions on important ecclesiastical and theological issues. In the 16th cent., because it became the place for the deliberations of the faculty of theology, this faculty came to be called the Sorbonne, although all its members did not belong to this college. In 1626 it was enlarged.

After its suppression (1792) in the French Revolution, the Univ. of France took over (1808) the Sorbonne grounds, so that for the years between 1808 and 1885 the Sorbonne existed as the seat of the three faculties of theology and of the Académie de Paris. In 1885 a general council of faculties, presided over by the rector of the university, was created. The Sorbonne grounds now house facilities of several of the universities the Univ. of Paris was divided into in 1970 as well as facilities of the rectorate for those universities and of other educational institutions. Sorbonne has frequently been used as a name for the Univ. of Paris.

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