Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Society/BusinessPublic outreachUniversity MuseumThe History of the University of Groningen

Conflict with the city and province of Groningen

01 January 1704
The weapon of the Ommelanden
The weapon of the Ommelanden

1704: Conflict with the city and province of Groningen

In the sixteenth century, education and politics were tightly interwoven. At this point the university was a victim of the political bickerings between Stad (Groningen) and Ommelanden (the province of Groningen). These two parties argued about the staple duty. This was a tax on products, which stated that all products from the surrounding areas (the Ommelanden) needed to be traded in Groningen (Stad). This happend to the great dissatisfaction of the Ommelanden and, in their turn, they repeateldy hindered  governmental issues. One of the issues in which the Ommelanden refused to cooperate was the appointment of professors at the university. As a result, no professors could be appointed and student numbers dropped. Finally, in 1717, there will be an end to the conflicts. In that period, the University starts growing and after all there is a fresh prospective to the future. A future of infinity as we say now!


Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach
Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach

9 April 1710: Ramshackle library

Zacharias Conrad Uffenbach visited the city of Groningen in 1710 on his journey through Lower-Saxony, The Dutch Republic and England. On April 9, he bounces along in the University Libary, where he probably expected more: "Nachmittags giengen wir auf die Bibliothecam Academiae. Selbige ist hinten an der Universitäts-Kirche, in zwey sehr langen, aber schmalen Gängen, welche vermuthlich die oberste Gänge von dem alten Closter gewesen. Es siehet sehr obscur und wüste aus, und sind die hesslichen Bücher-Bretter, so auf der einen Seiten hinunter stehen, lang nicht voll, und der meiste Theil der Bücher ist, wo nicht in der That alt und schlecht, dennoch so gebunden." He wrote down his very personal experiences in his book 'Merkwürdige Reisen durch Niedersachsen Holland und England'.


Petrus Camper
Petrus Camper

1722-1789: Petrus Camper

Petrus Camper was a true 'Uomo Universalis' and a scientific miracle. During the Enlightenment, he played an important role in the medical sciences. He published a great deal, through which he contributed to the popularisation of science in the 18th century. He also produced anatomical books with illustrations of is own. But he was not only famous in The Netherlands. Also the French Academy and the English Royal Society were pleased with his presence. Unifocus provided an account of this remarkable man and his work.


'Doctorsbul' of Joannes van Rickenga
'Doctorsbul' of Joannes van Rickenga

1724: 'Doctorsbul' Joannes van Rickenga

In the University museum you can admire this doctoral degree certificate ('doctorsbul') of Joannes van Rickenga. This bul orginates in the first half of the 18th century. Likewise to today, the document has to show that the person in question stately has been promoted at the university. In the time of Joannes van Rickenga, this happened with a seal as you can see. Remarkable are the signs of the engaged persons. This still happens today.


Watercolor by C.N. Hofkamp, to a picture of Loffers, 1777
Watercolor by C.N. Hofkamp, to a picture of Loffers, 1777

29 October 1749: Thanks to the House of Orange

The university board gave regent Willem IV of Orange extensive competence in the University of Groningen, by making him 'rector magnificentissimus' and 'primus curator'. In this way, they hoped the House of Orange would saveguard the univerity. By appointing new professors the number of students increased. Willem IV was welcomed at the Academy building, after a grand procession through the city, which started at the Grote Markt. Protection of the House of Orange provided the university with a much needed boost, such that it made the French decide to keep the univerity open, instead of the University of Franeker, in 1811.


An original menu of the Mensa anno 1772
An original menu of the Mensa anno 1772

7 March 1772: Bad food in the Mensa

This picture shows an original menu of the Mensa university restaurant anno 1772. The map is in Dutch, but it says: 'Warm beer and bread with cheese in the afternoon. In the evening, meat, butter and pancakes for each student.' The menu looks delicious, even today! Nevertheless, the quality of food in this period was of the highest standards. This becomes apparent if we consider the statement of the senate in 1772. They stated that the hygiene in the Mensa was poor and students became ill. Until 1813, therefore, the university professors set up a schedule to perform daily hygiene checks of the Mensa. Everything to protect the youth of the academy!


Leonardus Offerhaus
Leonardus Offerhaus

1775: Offerhaus: a historic treat

Menig student of alumnus moet de naam Offerhaus bekend in de oren klinken, met name doordat er veel hoorcolleges plaatsvinden in de naar deze rector vernoemde Offerhauszaal. Van slechts een naam op het collegerooster komt Leonardus Offerhaus even tot leven middels deze prent uit 1775. Het onderschrift luidt:"Kerkvaders, Letterjeugt, en, wie het hebt begrepen Op wijs en vroom! verlangt ge een spiegel, die niet vleit; Hier is er een, door Eeuw en Godts-kunde opgesleepen: Hoe valt der waarheidsdach op blinkende Eerlijkheit." Een godvrezend man die vooral door zijn werk binnen de universiteit als docent en rector bekend is gebleven. Het is slechts een van de talloze voorbeelden van objecten uit het verleden van de RUG die voor iedereen op Academische collecties te doorzoeken zijn. Een aanrader om mee te beginnen: de Historische Collectie RUG en Studentenleven is online historisch smullen!

Last modified:13 March 2019 10.28 a.m.

More news

  • 23 April 2019

    From paperclip to patent

    How is it possible that an albatross doesn’t crash and die when it lands? And how come its large wings don’t break due to air resistance? That is what you would expect, according to the laws of aerodynamics. However, Professor Eize Stamhuis has discovered...

  • 02 April 2019

    ‘Sense of loss drives voting behaviour’

    ‘Everybody here loves that academia has returned to Friesland. We teach, carry out research and think along about solutions to problems that are relevant for Friesland,’ says Caspar van den Berg, Professor of Global and Local Governance at the UG Campus...

  • 29 March 2019

    Royal Decoration for Prof. Jeff De Hosson

    On Friday 29 March, Prof. J.Th.M. De Hosson has been awarded the Royal Decoration of Knight of the Order of the Dutch Lion. He was presented with this decoration by acting Mayor Koos Wiersma of the Westerkwartier municipality directly after his valedictory...