In its beginnings, the university was a legally privileged association of people, the “universitas magistrorum et scholarium” (community of teachers and students). The egalitarian ideal represented in this term was never really fulfilled. Instead, the university was a differentiated organism of individuals and groups who were distinguished by age, graduation, status, gender, affiliation to various university bodies and other criteria. They have influenced the history of the University of Vienna in so many ways in the past 650 years that only select examples can be presented.
The focus lies on members of the teaching staff and on students. However, representatives of the authorities, from politics and the church have influenced the university’s history as well. Until the academic jurisdiction was abolished in 1783, the “cives academici” (academic citizens) – mainly artisans and teachers of certain skills (dancing and fencing masters etc.) – were also part of the university community. Among these people were also servants, without whom all the research and teaching at the university would not have been possible.