What Is the History of Cambridge University?

A large part of Cambridge’s global renown is owed to the city’s illustrious university and its long and distinguished history. In addition, the University of Cambridge goes all the way back to the 13th century, making it one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious academic institutions. Academically, Cambridge’s University is known across the globe for its excellent intellectual and academic accomplishments.

The University of Cambridge is a research university, which is located in the United Kingdom. Cambridge University is the third-oldest university that is still in operation, having been established in 1209 and receiving a royal charter from Henry III in 1231.

The University of Cambridge is a source of motivation, both for its illustrious history and its iconic future, and as a result, it draws a large number of visitors from all over the globe to the city. Because of this, it is necessary to give special attention, beginning in the early years of this academic foundation, to the roots that it was built on.

History of Cambridge University

History of Cambridge University

By the year 1200, Cambridge had developed into a prosperous commercial settlement, as well as a county town, and it had at least one school that was notable for its academics. Then, in the year 1209, academics seeking safety from the hostility of townspeople in Oxford moved to Cambridge and established a community there. In the beginning, they resided in hotels inside the town; but, as time progressed, homes were leased and converted into hostels; each hostel had a Master who was responsible for the students. By the year 1226, there were sufficient numbers of academics to have established an organization. This organization was overseen by an official position known as a Chancellor, and it seems that the scholars also planned for regular classes to be taught by their own members. 

A decree from Pope Gregory IX in 1233 affirmed Cambridge’s position as a university by granting it a type of legal protection. Under Pope Nicholas IV, Cambridge’s position as a university was officially acknowledged, and the arrival of high-ranking academics and scholars began.

In the sixteenth century, Cambridge University was an instrumental force in the propagation of Puritan and separatist ideas. In addition to future Pilgrim leader William Brewster, Robert Browne, John Greenwood, and Henry Barrowe received their education there. Other separatist figures who would influence the theological, ecclesiastical, and political principles of the Pilgrim Fathers also received their education there. During this time period, there was a strong pro-Puritan sentiment at Cambridge, along with a newfound spirit of reform.

Establishment Of the Educational Institutions

At first, Cambridge’s colleges were just a small part of the university. They started out as endowed fellowships for scholars. Hostels were places that didn’t have endowments.

Bishop Hugh of Ely Balsham created Peterhouse in 1284, which would go on to become the first college of Cambridge University. As a general rule, the majority of colleges were formed between 1450 and 1500. However, several colleges were built considerably later. The Robinson College of the institution was founded in the late 1970s.

Cambridge colleges were established with the express purpose of instructing their pupils to pray for the salvation of their forefathers. Many of Cambridge’s colleges were linked to chapels or abbeys because of this.

During the collapse of the monasteries in 1536, the colleges’ emphasis shifted. Canon Law and “scholastic philosophy” at Cambridge University were ordered to be abolished by King Henry VIII. University curriculum began to emphasize arithmetic, the classics, and the Bible as a result.



Beginning in the late seventeenth century with the work of Sir Isaac Newton and continuing until the middle of the nineteenth century, Cambridge University placed a significant focus on the study of mathematics. The “Tripos” was an examination that students needed to pass in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree. In addition, students were expected to study this topic as part of their graduation requirements.

Despite its wide range of research and educational pursuits, Cambridge’s mathematics department remains a pillar of the university. Mathematical and theoretical physics research at the university’s Isaac Newton Institute is recognized as the best in the country. Eight Fields Medals and one Abel Prize have been awarded to Cambridge graduates in mathematics. An advanced certificate in mathematics is given to the most accomplished mathematicians by the institution.

Education For Women

Emily Davies’s establishment of Girton College, which was not only the first Cambridge women’s institution but also the first university college in England to admit female students, was a defining moment in England’s and the nation’s history.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, women were permitted to enroll in classes, take exams, and have their results recorded; nonetheless, they were not accorded the status of full university members. In the 20th century, women were allowed to earn what is now known as a titular degree, which is a half degree, but they were not allowed to participate in the governance of universities. The year 1947 marked the beginning of successful efforts to grant women full membership in the university.

Although the majority of women’s colleges retained the idea that until the gender ratio issue was overcome, they would not diminish the number of women’s seats available by admitting men to their institutions, the merger of men’s colleges happened between 1960 and 1988. The student gender ratio at Cambridge University, including post-graduates, was registered as 52 percent male and 48 percent female in the academic year 2004.



In one of the University’s 31 independent Colleges, students live, dine, and socialize. College supervisions – small group teaching sessions – have been hailed as one of the top teaching methods in the world for undergraduates at the University of Michigan.

Each college has its own set of rules and regulations that govern its operations. Subject to university restrictions, they choose their own students to enroll in their programs, and the majority of these programs accept both undergraduate and graduate students. Representatives from each college are elected to serve on the university council and the university’s finance committee.

Cambridge University Today 

Since its founding in 1209, the University of Cambridge has been a magnet for some of the brightest minds in the world.

The University of Cambridge is consistently listed among the world’s best institutions in both national and international league tables. This institution has a worldwide perspective and aims to have a positive impact on society by pursuing the greatest standards of international education, learning, and research.