The first woman to receive a Doctorate Degree, pure inspiration

Having mastered seven languages, mathematics, astronomy, grammar, musics, theology and philosophy, the Venetian bred Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia was sent by her father to the University of Padua so as to continue her studies. Her goal was not to obtain a degree, she just genuinely longed to dedicate herself to studying her dearest subjects. Above all she relished in philosophy and theology.


However her haughty father, Giovanni Cornaro, desired his daughter’s knowledge to be universally recognized, and thus their family name remembered (he as a matter of fact has spent most of his life struggling to establish his name and become famous). For the sake of pleasing her prideful father, Elena Lucrezia applied for a Doctorate of Theology degree. Evidently, officials of the Roman Catholic Church firmly declined to confer the Doctor of Theology title upon a woman.

Constrained by Giovanni Cornaro’s insistency, Elena applied once more. Eventually they reached a compromise with the Church, but she had to choose an alternative topic, her choice being philosophy. Throughout her examination her brilliant and perspicacious answers awed the examiners, who determined that her vast knowledge surpassed the Doctorate of Philosophy.


Subsequently, on 25th of June 1678, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia received the Doctorate of Philosophy degree from the University of Padua, being the first woman in the world to receive a doctorate degree.

Regardless of your studies and intelligence, as a woman in those times you were obviously not able to develop professionally. Accordingly, her Doctorate Degree was useless, for she was not allowed to work at any rate. Therefore she has devoted the rest of her life to charity, focusing on learning and ministering the poor. Besides, she also steadfastly rejected any marriage offer ever proposed to her, and hastily deceased at 38 years old.



5 responses to “The first woman to receive a Doctorate Degree, pure inspiration

  1. Thanks for your comments. The Impressionists were all wonderful but Van Gogh definitely stands out. I’ve learnt a lot here as well. Will follow.

  2. Pingback: Another woman who stood up to the rough customs of her time | The Girl With Great Expectations·

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