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12 May 2009

On this day in history: First university founded in Americas, 1551

On 12th May 1551 King Charles I of Spain (also Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) signed a Royal Decree at Valladolid establishing the first university in the Americas at Lima in Peru. The university, named Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (National University of San Marcos) was the brainchild of the Dominican Fray Thomas de San Martín, himself a scholar of some repute. Teaching commenced two years later: the first lecture taking place at the Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary.

On July 25th 1571 Pope St. Pius V issued a Papal bull recognizing the University - the text of which is available (in Latin) at the University of Salamanca site. Initially providing teaching in theology and the literature, the University later diversified to include faculties of law and medicine by the end of the seventeenth century, and Mathematics and Science during the nineteenth century.

If you wish to learn more about the University (and can read Spanish) see the History of San Marcos page on the University's web site.

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