University heritage

University Heritage - Pharmacy


From the Middle Ages to the Revolution (1303-1793)

As early as the early Middle Ages, higher education existed in Avignon. In the 13th century, we find traces of schools of theology, grammar and medicine, supported by the Avignon commune.
In 1303, Pope Boniface VIII and Charles II, King of Sicily, Count of Provence (Lord of Avignon) federated these different schools into a real university intended to counter the Sorbonne created in 1257, which was too docile to its temporal "protector", Philippe Le Bel.

The Pope showered the University of Avignon with blessings and endowed it with great privileges. From the outset, it had the totality of the teaching in its four faculties.
The University was suppressed, like 26 others, by the decree of 15 September 1793 and Avignon had to wait until 1963 for the reappearance of a higher education unit in the city.
This Centre then depends on the Faculty of Sciences of Aix-Marseille.

According to Etudes Vauclusiennes n° XXXII of the second half of 1984.
From the Centre for Higher Education to the current autonomy

The creation of the Centre d'Enseignement Supérieur Littéraire in 1964 was a response to the strong demographic growth. Placed under the dependence of the Faculty of Letters of Aix, the Centre was transformed in 1967 into a University Literary College. One year later, this Centre for Higher Scientific Education was raised to the rank of University Scientific College.
In 1972, the creation of the University Centre brought together the two Teaching and Research Units (UER).
It developed until the decree of 17 July 1984, the date of the creation of the University of Avignon and the Pays de Vaucluse. The University of Avignon and the Pays de Vaucluse then had nearly 2,000 students and was divided into three departments (Humanities, Exact and Natural Sciences, Applied Sciences and Languages).
Its development continued steadily with the creation of the University Institute of Technology in 1990, the Legal, Political and Economic Sciences UFR in 1991 and the Professionalized University Institute of Computer Engineering in 1992.

In 1997, the university began the academic year for the first time on the new site of the former Sainte-Marthe hospital, after three years of work.

On 7 May 1998, the Sainte-Marthe site was inaugurated by the President of the Republic, Mr Jacques Chirac.

In 2006, two new buildings were opened: the sports complex on the Hannah Arendt campus and the Agrosciences Centre on the Jean-Henri Fabre campus.

The buildings

The buildings of the University have a unique history.

Hannah Arendt Campus

The Faculty of ScienceThe building, on the Pasteur site, the historic site of the University in the city, a former teacher training college, displays a IIIrd Republic architecture.
The Sainte-Marthe siteThis is a heritage and symbolic place in the territory, a former hospital of Avignon, is a listed building in its major part and benefits from a contemporary construction and a renowned park.

Jean-Henri Fabre Campus

As the most recent site, this campus takes on its full meaning in the reorganisation of the University around the Science and Agrosciences Pole and in the links that it develops with its socio-economic environment: Agroparc.

On 11 October 2012, the university community was invited to send in their proposals for the names of the two campuses of our university. 290 contributions were received. After analysis and grouping, the top proposals were Jean-Henri Fabre for the Agroparc Campus and Hannah Arendt for the City Centre Campus. They have been so named since the start of the 2014-2015 academic year.
Exhibition 700 years of the University

You can also visit the exhibition which retraces more than 700 years of our University's history in the school corridor. This exhibition was created in 2003, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary, by the Laboratoire d'HIStoire d'Avignon (LHISA) and the Laboratoire Culture et Communication.

The Pharmacy

In 1553 an apothecary shop was set up in the hospital. To administer it, the town council appointed a superintendent who was responsible for maintaining and supplying the pharmacy; the apothecary was appointed by the rectors, who met in a general office which managed the entire hospital administration. The apothecary's salary was 25 ecus per year and he was assisted by a servant and a "souillon".

In 1756, the pharmacy was transferred to the former nuns' chapel because its previous location was too prone to flooding from the Rhône. The chapel, close to the entrance door, is in a more central position, allowing the distribution of "drugs" to the patients to be monitored. At the back is the laboratory with its equipment of sieves, mortars, stills, scales, syringes and cups. The furniture and elements are regularly inventoried, as in 1738 by the office managers, who note the presence of 2 large earthenware urns, 4 large paintings (without description), 36 "chevrettes", 36 "pots à canon" bought from the earthenware merchant Olivier de Montpellier in 1731.

The 1661 inventory of "drugs" includes all kinds of powders, pills, plasters, ointments, cinchona, ipecac, myrrh, mercury, sulphur against glanders and rhubarb. In 1649, vitriol, lemon balm, peach blossoms, gold and silver leaves were purchased for the shop. Many of these products came from the Beaucaire fair and were then transported to the town via the Rhône.

The apothecary is checked by his fellow doctors in the town and the rectors of the hospital every 3 years. To obtain his title, he had to undergo a 7-year training period with a master, then undergo an audition in front of the other doctors and make 4 different preparations before taking the oath. His book, in which the names of patients and doctors' prescriptions are recorded, is regularly inspected. The apothecary of the hospital must not distribute remedies to girls or women to avoid encouraging abortions. Medicines are distributed to the patients in the morning on an empty stomach and in the evening; moreover, he is obliged to take herbal remedies in the garden and to improve his knowledge by buying books.

In 1700, the apothecary boys had to prepare theriac, which was used to fight all diseases in the past. More than 50 products were used in its composition, including dried vipers. The theriac had to ferment in a large container for a certain period of time. This pharmacy continued to function until the eve of the French Revolution.

More information

Please refer to the documents published for the 700th anniversary of the creation of the University of Avignon, and in particular

  • The collective work L'Université d'Avignon. Naissance et Renaissance. 1303 ~ 2003, under the direction of Brigitte Bénézet, Acte Sud 2003.
  • the DVD 1303 Université 2003, designed and directed by Pierre-Louis Suet, produced by the University of Avignon and the Pays de Vaucluse.