The oldest university in Paris started off as a department of theology, founded in 1257 at the school of Notre Dame de Paris during the reign of King Louis IX the Saintly. The first head of the department was the royal chaplain Robert de Sorbonne. Dante Alighieri and Thomas Aquinas worked here.
The university flourished under the informal rule of Cardinal Richelieu, who contributed his private funds into the development of Sorbonne, built the Sorbonne church dedicated to Saint Ursula, and decreed to change the official language of education from Latin to French. The modern-day buildings on campus have been built in the 19th century.