Gown, beret, chain of office and scepter

History and tradition

The solemn ceremony of the opening of the academic year has already taken place since the founding of the "Rheinische Universität Bonn" in 1818 on the founding day, October 18.
At that time, the rector annually handed over the office to his successor. During the ceremonial marching-in of the dignitaries of the university and its faculties, the scepters were carried forward by the porters, as it is still done today. However, the academic insignia of sovereignty, the scepters and the chain of office with the medal, have a much longer tradition.
As early as the 14th century, universities were equipped with scepters, symbolizing the rule of the rector, who had far-reaching judicial powers. In the meantime, however, the meaning of the academic insignia has been reinterpreted. They are no longer supposed to stand for rulership, but for the independence of the universities and for the unity of research and teaching.

After the collapse of the Napoleonic Empire, a Prussian university was founded in Bonn in 1818. The city of Bonn as a location recommended itself to its competitors, Catholic Cologne and Protestant Duisburg, because of the enlightened and tolerant attitude of its population. Therefore, the Protestant Duisburg University was closed in 1818 and its scepters were given to the Bonn University.

However, it had to wait a few more years for the chain of office and the name that the "Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität" bears to this day, because a political assassination caused the universities to fall out of favor with the Prussian king. The student Sand murdered the writer and critic of the student movement Kotzebue. The subsequent Carlsbad Resolutions led to a ban on student fraternities, control of universities, and even bans on teaching by professors close to the movement, such as Ernst Moritz Arndt in Bonn. Frederick William III refused to allow Bonn University to bear his name for another ten years.

It was only after the death of Frederick William III that his son, who was more open to reforms, lifted the supervision and prohibitions and in 1853 awarded the rector the chain of office with the image of the late monarch. At the same time, he granted Bonn professors the right to wear the gown and beret, and he designated the faculty colors that are still visible in the deans' robes today.

For over 200 years, the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn has now upheld the ideals of the enlightenment and the autonomy of science, which have outlasted all adversity, with the tradition of the founding day.

Universitätsgesellschaft Bonn - Freunde, Förderer, Alumni e.V.

The opening of the academic year is supported by the Universitätsgesellschaft Bonn.

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