The University of Strasbourg in Strasbourg, Alsace, France, is the second largest university in France (after Aix-Marseille University), with about 46,000 students and over 4,000 researchers.
The present-day French university traces its history to the earlier German-language ''Universität Straßburg'', which was founded in 1538, and was divided in the 1970s into three separate institutions: Louis Pasteur University, Marc Bloch University, and Robert Schuman University. On 1 January 2009, the fusion of these three universities reconstituted a united University of Strasbourg, which is now amongst Europe's best in the League of European Research Universities.
The university emerged from a Lutheran humanist German Gymnasium, founded in 1538 by Johannes Sturm in the Free Imperial City of Strassburg. It was transformed to a university in 1621 and elevated to the ranks of a royal university in 1631. Among its earliest university students was Johann Scheffler who studied medicine and later converted to Catholicism and became the mystic and poet Angelus Silesius.〔 〕
The Lutheran German university still persisted even after the annexation of the City by King Louis XIV in 1681 (one famous student was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1770/71), but mainly turned into a French university during the French Revolution.
The university was refounded as the German ''Kaiser-Wilhelm-Universität'' in 1872, after the Franco-Prussian war and the return of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany provoked a westwards exodus of Francophone teachers. During the German Empire the university was greatly expanded and numerous new buildings were erected because the university was intended to be a showcase of German against French culture in Alsace. In 1918, Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France, so a reverse exodus of Germanophone teachers took place.
During the Second World War, when France was occupied, personnel and equipment of the University of Strasbourg were transferred to Clermont-Ferrand. In its place, the short-lived German Reichsuniversität Straßburg was created.
In 1970, the university was subdivided into three separate institutions:
* Louis Pasteur University (Strasbourg I)
* Marc Bloch University (Strasbourg II)
* Robert Schuman University (Strasbourg III)
These were, however, reunited in 2009, a process that should finish in 2012, and were able to be among the first twenty French universities to gain greater autonomy.
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