Žilina Academy

Žilina Academy

In close proximity to the Church of the Holy Trinity (Cathedral) and Burian’s Tower is a building of the former Representative House. Today it is Žilina’s Town Theatre. Most likely a modest building stood here in the past, occuppied by Žilina Academy, which spread the fame of Žilina’s educational system even beyond the borders of Hungary. Attestment to the cultural forwardness of Žilina’s inhabitants, is that by the early 15th century several Žilina residents studied at Prague’s Charles University, founded in 1348 and the oldest in Central Europe. The university records state that in 1405 Martinus de Zilina studied here, as did Johanes de Zilina in 1415 and Nikolaus de Zilina in 1420.  Others from Žilina studied in universities such as Vienna, Krakow and elsewhere during the 15th century.

Žilina Academy
Žilina stood out from other Slovak towns since it had a school by the 15th century. By 1542, Žilina already had a school of higher education. This was the Protestant Academy where lessons were taught in latin. Žilina Academy had a very good reputation, so students came from  the Czech Republic, Moravia, Silesia, and Prussia to study here. Chancellors of Žilina Academy were excellent educators, but also philosophers, writers, dramatists, poets, and scientists. They were graduates of  the unversities of Jena, Wittemberg and Erfurt in northern Germany, Königsberg in eastern Prussia, Prague’s Charles University, the Polish university in Toruń, and even the world famous English universities of Oxford and Cambridge. All of the chancellors had a good command of several foreign languages. For instance, Samuel Nigrini spoke Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German and Hungarian.
In the 1770s, chancellors of evangelical unversities in Hungarian territories under Habsburg control had to renounce their offices. Many of them went into exile. This is when Žilina Academy disappeared. During the last uprising against Habsburg control by Hungarian  and Transylvanian nobles under the leadership of František II Rákoci the academy was reestablished for a time. However, after the Kuruc were defeated in battle near Trenčín (4th August 1708) and following the occupation of Žilina by Imperial troops, the academy was closed. A Jesuit grammar school founded in 1691 spread education throughout Žilina and its wider district. The Jesuit grammar school never attained such a high level of education as the protestant academy of Žilina.
We will never know the exact appearance of the building in which the famous Žilina Academy resided. It was probably one of the modest buildings near the Church of the Holy Trinity and Burian’s Tower.

Source: TIO Žilina (according to academic literature, by G. Krušinský).

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