From its foundation until the end of the 16th century, the University of Coimbra consolidated its position as a centre for the education of the elites of an empire where the sun never set.
During that period (starting in 1288, when the Plea to Pope Nicholas IV was made, until 1597), the University had 64 rectors, a number of whom were outstanding political and cultural figures.
1288 – Friar André Ursinus, professor of Holy Fathers (?)
1290 – Master Gerardo, professor of Theology
? – Master Agostinho Belo, professor of Arts and later of Theology
1330 – Master Simão da Cruz, professor of Theology
1367-68 – Gonçalo Miguéis, bachelor of Canons
- Prior of São Jorge, bachelor of Canons
1378-79 – D. Martinho Domingues, canon of Évora
1384-86 – Lançarote Esteves
1387 – Lopo Martins, priest
1388 – Vicente Afonso
1390 – Lançarote Esteves
1393 – Vasco Esteves, vicar of S. Tomé
1396 – Vasco de Freitas
? – Salvador Rodrigues, dean of Guarda
1398 – Vicente Afonso
1400 – Dr. João das Regras, doctor from the University of Bologna
1408 – Friar João Vargas, professor of Theology
1415 – Rodrigo Anes, prior of São Pedro de Alenquer
1417 – D. Pedro Escacha
1418 – João Afonso, scholar of Laws (serving as rector on behalf of D. Pedro)
1429 – Vasco Gil, scholar of Canons
1431 – Vasco Estêvão, vicar of S. Tomé
1435 – Vasco Gil
1440 – Pedro Esteves
1441 – Gonçalo Martins, scholar of Canons
1442 – Gomes Afonso
1449 – João de Elvas, Hora Prima professor of Canons
- Gonçalo Garcia de Elvas, Hora Prima professor of Laws
1458 – João de Elvas, Hora Prima professor of Canons
- Bartolomeu Gomes – Hora Prima professor of Laws
1487 – Fernão Lopes
1493 – Álvaro Martins, the Queen’s chaplain, bachelor of Laws
1494 – Rodrigo Caldeira, Hora Prima professor of Canons
1495 – Álvaro Martins
- Master João da Madalena
1499 – D. Francisco Mendes, Bishop of Fez, King Manuel’s master
1506 – Brás Afonso Correia
1511 – Diogo da Gama
1512 – Dr. João Alves de Elvas
1513 – D. João, Bishop of Safim
1518 – Rui Gonçalves, High Rank Official of the King’s High Court of Justice
1525 – Dr. Jorge Costa, of the King’s High Court of Justice and Court Magistrate
1526 – Dr. Cristóvão da Costa, of the King’s High Court of Justice
1527 – Dr. Fernando Álvares de Almeida, of the King’s High Court of Justice and Chief Judge
1528 – The Bishop of Lamego refused, and the former rector remained in office.
1529 – Francisco de Melo, of the King’s Council
1531 –Gonçalo Pires was elected, but the former rector remained in office.
1532 – Francisco de Melo
1533 – Álvaro Esteves, of the King’s High Court of Justice
1534 – Álvaro Esteves
1535-36 – Dr. Jorge Fernandes, of the King’s High Court of Justice
1536 – Dr. Pedro Nunes, of the King’s High Court of Justice and Rector, who served until the University returned to Coimbra.
1537 – D. Garcia de Almeida, rector at the time the University was definitively transferred to Coimbra.
1537-41 – D. Agostinho Ribeiro (O.S. João Evangelista), the first rector coming from a religious Order and the first to fulfil the duties of cancellarius.
1541-43 – D. Friar Bernardo da Cruz (O.P.), the sole Dominican to attain the post of rector. He was also the first of a series of rectors connected to the Court of the Holy Inquisition, and was charged by Cardinal Prince Henry with establishing the Inquisition Office in Coimbra.
1543-55 – Friar Diogo de Murça (O.S. Jerónimo), the first to hold the degree of Doctor (in Theology); the sole rector coming from the Order of Saint Hieronymus.
1555-57 – Afonso do Prado, Castilian; Doctor in Theology from the University of Alcalá. He was the sole rector who was also a teacher at the University until the D. André de Almada was appointed.
1557-60 – D. Manuel de Meneses, the first rector to attend the University as a student, and the first to be appointed for a period of three years being sworn in before the Full Cloister. Under this rector, a great issue between the University and the Jesuits began.
1560-63 – D. Jorge de Almeida. When he took office, he was under 30, the required age to serve as rector. Queen Catherine exempted him from that requirement.
1563-64 – Martim Gonçalves da Câmara, Jesuit priest. He was appointed by the Regent, Queen Catherine.
1564-69 – D. Aires da Silva
1570-78 – D. Jerónimo de Meneses
1578-84 – D. Nuno de Noronha
1586-94 – D. Fernão Martins Mascarenhas
1594-97 – António de Mendonça. Under this rector, on September 16, 1597 the University of Coimbra purchased the Royal Palace of Alcáçova for 30,000 cruzados, which included 15,000 cruzados lent to the crown in 1584.
Document of the purchase the Royal Palace of Alcáçova • 1597