Knowledge, economy, and university in the south of Europe at the end of the eighteenth century. The case of Salamanca and Coimbra

Carlos Fernando Teixeira Alves, Catholic University of Portugal

In the second half of the eighteenth century, Europe witnessed a wave of University reforms that transformed several universities (Anderson 2004; Brockliss 2003; Hammerstein 2002a; 2002b). This third wave of reforms was more impressive in Southern and Central Europe and was a remarkable response to the new mentality where Governments took responsibility for citizens’ education. One of the fields in which this new outlook was evident was the teaching of Philosophy (Freedman 1999; Ruestow 1973; Stewart 1990; Martins 2013; Costa 2014; Albares Albares 2006; Fuertes Herreros 2006). In many Universities, and Salamanca and Coimbra were no exception, we saw the introduction of the disciplines of Natural History, Zoology, Mineralogy, Botanic, Agriculture, and others. And, analyzing the study plans of the Universities of Salamanca and Coimbra from 1771 to 1820, we can conclude that these improvements eventually led to a strengthening of the disciplines devoted to the study of natural products. This investment in the introduction of subjects related to the study of natural resources of animal, mineral, and vegetable origin, meets the central interest of the Portuguese and Spanish reformers: to combat economic, industrial, and commercial underdevelopment. This vision had clear economic interests because this activity should be the necessary impulse to the productive sectors of these countries. In this way, the disciplines introduced provided the ability to identify and then cataloged and explored more effectively the various natural products from their extensive colonial territories. The materials we study here appear in the sources analyzed as ‘useful knowledge’ and should be the source of economic growth, alongside measures to stimulate industry and trade. Simultaneously, scientific academies and similar institutions have gained importance and proved to be more innovative. Nevertheless, it was in the universities that the largest number of students gathered. In this work we also intend, through the cases of Salamanca and Coimbra, to try to understand if the growing interest and the incentive in Natural Philosophy — through the curricula of Philosophy — attempted to solve the problems in agriculture and industry in Portugal. This article aims to focus on the relationship between Universities and the economic development of Spain and Portugal during the second half of the 18th century. We will build on the contributions of Araújo (2014b; 2014a; 2017), Costa (2014), and Prata (2014). We also intend to dialogue with Pedersen (2002) about the expansion of the Philosophy curriculum throughout the Modern Period, starting from the cases under analysis. Frijhoff (2002), Anderson (2000; 2004), and Hammerstein (2002b) in their analysis of the University reforms of the 18th century gives us the general lines of this third wave, lines that we will try to follow in the case of Coimbra and Salamanca. With Santos (2013), Cardoso (2004), and Spary (1999), we intend to demonstrate the utilitarian and intrinsically linked character of the economy that the Philosophy curricula have shown. In this way, I intend to divide my article into three parts: 1) identify the various subjects understood as ‘useful subjects’, introduced after 1771 and which are the adoption strategies followed by the two Universities; 2) compare the contents of these subjects among the two case studies; 3) try to understand if this new knowledge managed to stimulate productivity through the analysis of professional outlets.

DOI: 10.36253/979–12–215–0092–9.10

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