Happy 566th Birthday University of Glasgow!

Facsimile of Papal Bull of 1451

Facsimile of Papal Bull of 1451

The 7th of January marks the University’s official Birthday, when Pope Nicholas V issued the Bull that granted the permission for our foundation!landscape_logo_cmyk

Since 2017 is the Scottish Government’s Year of History, Heritage, and Archaeology we thought we would share 5 historical and archaeological anniversaries, events and people from the University of Glasgow’s heritage.

1.European Reformation 1517: Principal John Mair, and the Erasmus prayer.

Wycliffe Translation of the New Testament, in English. late 14th Century.

Wycliffe Translation of the New Testament, in English. late 14th Century.

This year it will be 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg and began the Reformation in Europe.

Desiderius Erasmus still features at Graduation ceremonies at the University today. After the Mace has been placed on the table in front of the platform party, and before anyone sits, the Professor of Divinity opens the proceedings in Latin with a prayer written by the Dutch scholar and theologian.

Access to Scripture in vernacular language was a key demand of Reformation thought and you can find out more about the changes in the Bible during Reformation years from the fantastic collections held by Special Collections. Find out more in the virtual exhibition: Divine Write: the King James Bible and Scotland, and you can see more images on our Flickr set.

Another University connection to the Reformation in Europe is that of John Mair, Principal of the University 1518-1526 . He lectured in Theology at the College de Sorbonne in Paris before returning to Scotland in 1518 and according to the historian Alexander Broadie, “Mair was undoubtedly at the centre of cultural life in Europe during the first half of the 16th century”. It is likely that Mair was greatly involved in Reformation thought in the 16th century.

2. Russian Revolution, 1917: Library Collections and Rasputin.

2017 will see the centenary of the February and October 1917 Revolutions in Russia, one of the defining moments of the 20th Century that dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the eventual rise of the Soviet Union.

The University of Glasgow Library holds a large collection relating to Russia and Eastern Europe including published collections of historical, statistical, legal, diplomatic and Communist Party documents, as well as documents produced by dissident groups. There is a substantial series of publications on the history and economic history of the republics and regions, and a significant number of publications on the history of individual enterprises.

Level 12 of the Library also has some significant holdings relating to the Soviet Union including an extensive collection of material written by, or relating to, Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), Communist revolutionary and one of the leaders of the 1917 October Revolution.

Matriculation slip of Stephen Alley 1894-95

Matriculation slip of Stephen Alley 1894-95

Another link the University of Glasgow has with this period of Russian history is with Rasputin. Moscow-born Glasgow alumnus Stephen Alley was recruited by MI6 and was part of a team of officers suspected of having organised the assassination of Grigori Rasputin in 1916!

3. Remembering Passchendaele, 1917.

Chateau Wood Ypres 1917. From the Australian War Memorial Collections Database

Chateau Wood Ypres 1917. From the Australian War Memorial Collections Database

This year between 12 July and 15 November, the University of Glasgow Great War Project will be remembering Passchendaele, one of the major battles of World War One and a campaign for which the war dead totalled 615,000 lives. Members of the University Community who are known to have died during the First World War are remembered on our Roll of Honour.

4. Anne Robertson and the Antonine Wall.

Anne Robertson was a graduate of the University and titular Professor of Roman Archaeology from 1974 until her retirement in 1975. She was an award winning Roman archaeologist and numismatist. Among her publications, The Antonine Wall (1960) was reprinted five times and the catalogues entitled Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet (1962 and 1971) were praised as models of clarity and accuracy. The Hunterian Museum has a very rich collection of artefacts and masonry from the Antonine Wall that you can see in the permanent exhibition:  The Antonine Wall: Rome’s Final Frontier . The Hunterian Museum also houses one of the world’s great coin collections.

5. Rectorial elections 2017!

2017 is a Rectorial election year! Every three years the University’s students elect a representative in the form of a Rector. The University of Glasgow is one of five Scottish universities which elects someone to this post and key duties include attending meetings of Court, working closely with the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), and bringing student concerns to the attention of the University’s managers.

Who will be elected this year? Who will be joining the ranks of such Rectors as Adam Smith, Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Jimmy Reid, and Charles Kennedy?


Happy Birthday UofG and look out for more about these stories over the coming year!

Categories: Archives and Special Collections

1 reply


  1. Reformation 500 – University of Glasgow Library

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