Catholic University of Leuven (1835–1968) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Catholic University of Leuven (of Louvain in French, and historically in English), founded in 1425 in Leuven as the University of Leuven, closed by the French Republic in 1797, transferred to Mechelen as the Catholic University of Mechelen in 1834 and transferred to the town of Leuven in 1835, was considered the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium. An earlier University of Leuven was founded in 1425 by John IV, Duke of Brabant and chartered by a Papal bull of Pope Martin V. It flourished for hundreds of years as the most prominent university in what would become Belgium, and one of the more prominent in Europe. In 1797, during the French rule over Belgium in the French Revolutionary Wars, the French Republic closed the university and cancelled its charter. A new institution, the State University of Louvain, was established in the city in 1816, but closed in 1835. With the closing of the State University, the Catholic University of Mechelen moved its seat to Leuven, adjusted its name and declared itself as a "re-founding" of the 1425 University of Leuven. This claim to continuity with the older institution was challenged in the courts, with Belgium's highest court issuing rulings (in 1844, 1855 and 1861) that the Catholic University of Leuven was a different foundation created under a different charter. Nonetheless, the Catholic University of Leuven is very frequently identified as a continuation of the older institution. In 1968, the Catholic University of Leuven split to form two institutions: Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven, Dutch-speaking, situated primarily in Leuven (KU Leuven); and Université catholique de Louvain, French-speaking, situated primarily in nearby Louvain-la-Neuve (UCLouvain).