Franeker Academy - Franeker
After the province of Friesland joined the Union of Utrecht in 1579 to fight jointly against the occupation of Spain, it was decided that only Reformed doctrine would be allowed. Therefore, there had to be more Reformed pastors, lawyers and doctors. Therefore, the second university - the first was in Leiden - of the Netherlands was founded in 1585: the Academy of Franeker. The university was housed in the convent building of the Brothers of the Cross, which had been empty since 1580.
There were four faculties to study: theology, law, medicine and liberal arts. Franeker blossomed into a lively student city, attracting not only local students but also foreign students. A beautiful town hall was built and stately buildings that did justice to the professors' status were erected.
The number of students grew and grew and more and more subjects were taught. By now, you could take classes in literature and philosophy. Some historical figures who studied or taught at the Franeker Academy include René Descartes, Peter Stuyvesant, William IV of Orange-Nassau and Eise Eisinga.
As the university grew, it turned out that there was also heavy drinking, which led to frequent fights. The university was nicknamed the 'booze academy'. So Franeker now had a reputation to uphold....
Unfortunately, at the end of the 18th century, student numbers plummeted: in 1795, there were only eight students left. The cause lay in the cuts the university had to make. Other universities, such as Groningen, were then able to buy away professors from Franeker, who in turn took students with them.
In 1811, after 226 years of teaching in Franeker, Napoleon Bonaparte put an end to the Academy. The building became a psychiatric hospital. The monastery building and botanical laboratory can still be seen in their original state.
In 2020, the Franeker Academy reopened at this current location in the Botniastins. Although you can no longer graduate there, you can follow scientific programmes here. Of course, you can also discover the stories of the former university here!