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Before the Bo: the acquisition of the “Hospitium Bovis”

Since when the university was established and throughout the XV century, lessons were not held in a fixed building, but it was instead up to the professors to find appropriate teaching spaces,
which they had to rent or buy themselves using their own wages.

There were therefore different teaching locations throughout the city, especially in the districts of San Biagio, Santa Lucia, Santa Caterina and Ca’ di Dio. In the Ca’ di Dio district, there is evidence of the professor of civil law, Francesco Porcellini, who was an important jurist belonging to the noble Capodilista family, buying a building also to host students, for the somewhat steep price of 750 ducats.

In 1493, the university of jurists moved to the large building that was previously home to the hotel with the emblem of the ox, “Hospitium Bovis”, in the district of San Martino. Prior to this, this mansion was one of the many belonging to the Papafava family, one of the branches of Padua’s ruling family. In fact, it would appear that, during the siege of 1405, Francesco da Carrara handed over three mansions, including the “Bo” hotel, in order to pay off his debt with the butcher Jacopo Marcolini di Bonzanino, who had supplied him with meat. It was precisely with the Bonzanini family that the chancellor of the jurists’ university, Bernardo Gil, signed a contract in 1493 to use a number of rooms inside the hotel for educational purposes, obtaining the necessary authorisation and financing for the seat and the completion of the necessary works. However, the university only became the outright owner in 1539.

It wasn’t until 1542 that the Reformers decided to create a single seat for the university inside the Bo building, incorporating also the Universitas Artistarum.