The University of Vienna was founded by the Habsburg ruler, Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria. This monarch was known as “Rudolf der Stifter” [Rudolf the Founder] on account of his fondness for building new cathedrals and monasteries, as well as the university. He may also have been motivated by rivalry with his Central European peers, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV (who had established Charles University in Prague just a few years earlier, in 1348) and Casimir III (known as “Casimir the Great”), King of Poland (who had founded Jagiellonian University in Kraków one year earlier, in 1364).
Vienna is the oldest university, under continuous operation, in the present-day German-speaking lands (the oldest one in Germany proper being Heidelberg University, dating to 1386). Rudolf closely modeled its structure and curriculum on those of the University of Paris. Over the centuries, the school has experienced many ups and downs: at one point—during the first Siege of Vienna by Ottoman Turkish forces in 1529—its student body was reduced to a mere 30 souls.
Now, almost 500 years later, the university has certainly recovered handsomely: its present student population numbers around 94,000. Around one quarter of these are international students hailing from some 138 different countries.
As for notable alumni, during the early sixteenth century the influential Protestant reformer Ulrich Zwingli and the famous alchemist Paracelsus (Theophrastus von Hohenheim) both studied there.
The nineteenth century saw a long list of illustrious persons pass through the university’s gates, of which we may mention the following:
During the twentieth century, some 20 University of Vienna–connected people have won the Nobel Prize, including:
Other prominent, twentieth-century University of Vienna–connected persons include the following:
Who are University of Vienna's Most influential alumni?
University of Vienna's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Psychology, Sociology, and Philosophy. University of Vienna’s most academically influential people include Sigmund Freud, Karl Popper, and Gregor Mendel.
Austrian neurologist known as the founding father of psychoanalysisview profile
Austrian-British philosopher of scienceview profile
Silesian scientist and Augustinian friarview profile
German philosopher, known as the father of phenomenologyview profile
Austrian physicistview profile
Austrian and British economistview profile
Austrian-American economistview profile
German sociologist, philosopher, and political economistview profile
Austrian zoologist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973view profile
Austrian-Swedish physicistview profile
Romanian poet, novelist, and journalistview profile
Austrian-American logician, mathematician, and philosopher of mathematicsview profile