A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Ever wondered where the names of our University’s buildings originate from? What is their history? It is important for the students of such an ancient and renowned University to know what historical figures were part of its glorious past, one of cultural ferment in an international setting.
Located in a central area of the city, the Lipsius building hosts the faculty of humanities of the University of Leiden. The building took the name of Justus Lipsius, a sixteenth century Flemish philosopher and humanist who spent the most productive part of his academic life at the University of Leiden.
Lipsius was born in a small municipality in the Brabant region, in what is today’s Belgium. In his twenties he moved to Rome where he worked as Latin secretary while studying Latin classics in his spare time; he soon began to travel throughout central Europe, where he obtained his first position as teacher at the University of Jena in Germany.
During his trip back to Leuven, the city where he once studied, he was forced by the Eight Years War to find refuge in the Netherlands. There, in 1579, he was made professor of history at the University of Leiden, founded only four years earlier. He then became rector of the University, a position that he would cover for four terms. In total, he spent eleven years working in the Dutch educational institution.
His choice to move to central Europe, whose territories were dominated by the Lutheran Church, had made him unpopular by the Catholic Church, but after his departure from the Netherlands in 1590 he reconciled with the Roman doctrine. This event triggered calls from prestigious universities from around the Catholic world. However, he decided to settle in Leuven where he taught at the College Buslidianum.
Lipsius remains famous for his publication De Constantia, where he tried to accommodate the teachings of Stoicism and Christianity, leading to the philosophical movement of Neostoicism.
To Lipsius has been dedicated another more well-known building, the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels which until 2017 hosted the headquarters of the European Council and the Council of the European Union.
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