University became the first institution in the Christian world to stand up for the Reformation and play off the current exegesis of Chrisitanity put forward by official bodies – the Council and the Pope. Over all ecclesiastical prohibitions it carried on. The so–called ‘Four Articles of Prague’ (a program of the moderate middle current of the Hussite movement) were formulated here. Hence, the University indubitably sustained a substantial part of the Movement, although its influence tapered off as the left wing gained on prominence.
In particular, the University wielded an immense influence on the Czech culture before the Battle of the White Mountain (1620): many works of far–reaching importance were translated into Czech to later constitute a rich cultural heritage, a bedrock of the Renaissance of the Czech People.
However, the Battle of the White Mountain, silenced the Czech non–Catholic intelligence. Rector of the University Jan Jessenius, a well–known surgeon who carried out the very first Czech public autopsy (at the Old Town Square in Prague in 1600) was executed. Many more prominent Czech scholars were persecuted for their disapproval of the Hapsburgs and were driven out of the country. In the end, after more than thirty years of constant altercation over the dominance, the Jesuits appeared to have carried too many guns for everyone else and easily subjected the institution to their pecking order. There still were quite a few important professors among the staff of the Faculty of Medicine, e.g. Jan Marcus Marci from Kronlandu, Harvey’s predecessor in Embryogenesis, who, with his interpretation of Epileptogenesis, came three hundred years ahead of his time, and Jakub Dobřenský from Černý Most, one of the founders of pathological anatomy. After the White Mountain period the University was renamed Charles–Ferdinand University, the name which it could not shake off for almost three hundred years.
In the middle of the 18th century the University underwent major changes. Individual faculties achieved recognition especially in the field of Mathematics and Physics, Philosophy, and Medicine. The Faculty of Medicine expanded with natural disciplines, and took on important scholars, for instance the pioneer of electorphysiology and electric treatment Czech and world–wide, Jan K. Boháč, who introduced experimental methods into research, an expert in anatomy Josef T. Klinkosch, or the physiologist of world renown in the
field of nerve transmission and Dean of the Faculty (1789) Jiří Procháska. As a result of Medicare reform introduced by Boerhave’s pupil van Swietehe and realized by the government in Vienna in order to consolidate the state economy and the state of internal affairs, more and more workers in medicine found employment in practice, thus enabling rather a far–reaching quantitative expansion in the studies of Medicine.
In 1774 the University was deprived of the Church control and ranked among the institutions of the absolutist state. That is why rather liberal lectures and seminars were restricted and limited as far as their subject freedom and style of lecturing went (officially approved, standardized textbooks were introduced to facilitate the control over the curricula in the entire monarchy). There was another side to the coin, however, i.e. getting rid of anti–reformist world viewpoint and Scholastic residue.
1784 curriculum did away with Latin as an instruction language, introducing German instead. Foregoing subjects of the seven arts were shifted to secondary schools and the University focus rested solely on natural, technical, and social sciences.
The end of Enlightenment brought to the surface the struggle for language emancipation, which came to the forefront as a sign of rather more complex social problems. Repressions, which followed hunger strikes and student unrests and demonstrations, focused especially on the Faculty of Arts, saving the good name of the Faculty of Medicine which, by then, had had a considerable experience in practice and was well–known abroad.
A most prominent and central character of Czech science was Professor of Natural Sciences Jan S. Presl, the founder of Czech scientific terminology, and author of a Catalogue of Plants and a Catalogue of Minerals. One of the most distinguished anatomists of the 19th century Josef Hyrtl, dissector with an outstanding injection technique, made exemplary dissections and published an excellent textbook on anatomy (1846) in Prague. From a myriad of Enlightenment doctors we need to name at least Jan T. Held, who was the dean of the Faculty of Medicine (1818, 1819, 1824, 1825), rector of the University (1827) and musical composer.
It was mainly the students who dressed the soil for growing national movement, themselves being under a strong influence of unorthodox lectures given by B. Bolzano, who conceived religion as an ethical