ON MAY 12, 1364, King Casimir the Great founded Cracow University ("Studium Generale Cracoviense"). Already a score of great universities in Western Europe had been founded, chief among these were Paris (1110), Bologna (1158), Oxford (1167), Montpelier (1181), Cambridge (1209), Padua (1222), Naples (1224), and Valencia ( 1345-50 ). The first universities to appear east of France were Prague ( 1348) and Cracow (1364). Austrian, German, and Scandinavian universities were to come later.
During the reign of Casimir III, the last of the Piast Dynasty, Poland had emerged as a world power surrounded by a disintegrating Holy Roman Empire, a strong Bohemia and Hungary, an embattled Muscovy, and a friendly Lithuania. In the West, France and England were in the throes of their Hundred Years War (1338-1453); Flanders and Netherlands were flourishing while Italy divided into City States was the center of world culture with Dante and Petrarch heralding the forthcoming Renaissance. The