During the 17th century, the number of students enrolling with the university increased, exceeding one thousand. In the last part of the century, there were twice as many artists as jurists. Italy’s first university library was established in the “Sala dei Giganti” (“Hall of Giants”). During the first decade of the 17th century, Galileo Galilei taught and lived in Padua. During this period, he observed the rings of Saturn, he built his telescope and held a series of lectures on the “new star” that he had observed, publishing his “Sidereus Nuncius” in 1610.
As part of the counter-reformation, the Republic of Venice began to defend itself against professors suspected of heresy and students who were targeted because they were either Lutherans or Calvinists or belonged to other ‘confessions’ or faiths. Through various legislative instruments, efforts were made to create a State university in an attempt to preserve its cosmopolitan character and prevent religious homogenisation. In 1678, the Sacred College of philosophers and doctors awarded the world’s first degree to a woman, the Venetian patrician Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia.