Officially recognised for a Studium Generale by the confirming bull issued by Pope Alexander V on 9th September 1409 and with opening celebrations attended by the Wettin sovereigns on 2nd December 1409, the Alma Mater Lipsiensis can claim to be one of Europe’s oldest universities. In Germany, it is, after Heidelberg, the second oldest "Hohe Schule" (University) at which there have been teaching and research without interruption - at the Artist Faculty, later Arts Faculty, set up when the university was formed, and the three Faculties of Medicine, Law and Theology.
Scholars of world renown contributed to shaping the Universität Leipzig, such as Hellenist Petrus Mosellanus, philosopher Christian Thomasius, philologist Johann Christoph Gottsched, theologian and poet Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, neurologist Paul Flechsig, chemist Wilhelm Ostwald, historian Karl Lamprecht, national economist Karl Bücher, physicists Werner Heisenberg and Gustav Hertz, educationalist Theodor Litt, the philologists Theodor Frings and Werner Krauss, philosopher Ernst Bloch, literature scholar Hans Mayer and many more. No less well known are the names of numerous students, such as Georg Agricola, Ulrich von Hutten, Thomas Müntzer, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Erich Kästner or Carl F. von Weizsäcker, who all spent university years here.
As early as the 15th century, the University owed its fast-growing significance to the need of the developing territorial state for a well educated future elite, to the cosmopolitanism of a blossoming fair and trading venue and to relatively generous support from funding by the state sovereign and the church. In July 1409, the Leipzig Council gave the university magistrates a building between Schlossgasse and Petersstraße and in December of the same year, the state sovereign donated the "large" and the "small" Fürstencolleg along Ritterstraße. In association with other colleges and hostels, a "Latin Quarter" was created on Ritterstraße and Brühl in the middle of the city. It expanded considerably after taking over the former Dominican monastery between the city wall and "Neue Neumarkt" (Universitätsstraße) in 1543 and was a primary feature in Leipzig’s cityscape.
Special mention must be made of the work of Caspar Borner, in whose period of office as Rector the Pauline monastery and several villages were assigned to the University (1543). In this way, the conditions were set to enable development of the impetus produced by Humanism and Reformation in Leipzig. So it is this Caspar Borner that we have to thank for revitalisation of the Universität Leipzig in the 16th century. After the political changes of 1989, the University endowed a medal bearing the name of Caspar Borner, awarded for contributions to renew the Alma Mater Lipsiensis.
The upswing of book printing and book selling in Leipzig would be inconceivable without the intellectual discussions relating to Humanism and Reformation in the 15th and 16th century. From 1682 onwards, Leipzig professors issued the first German academic journal, Acta Eruditorum, and contributed, in the spirit of the Enlightenment and Pietism, to Leipzig becoming the centre of German journal publication.