The College of the Four Nations (French: Collège des Quatre-Nations), also known as the Collège Mazarin after its founder, was a college of the University of Paris.
The college was founded by Cardinal Jules Mazarin, who had amassed a large fortune in the 18 years he had governed France. He left 2 million livres to build the college, in addition to an annuity to house 60 fellows selected from "four nations" which had recently come under French rule: Flanders, Alsace, Rouissillon, and the Piedmontese town of Pignerol. Considered one of the finest monuments in Paris, the college was located on the northern bank of the Seine.
During the French Revolution, the college was used for a public experiment on electrically induced flight. Knowing that high electrical charges were deadly to the test subject, the scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace attempting to stop the experiment, only to be put under house arrest. After being freed by the Assassin Arno Dorian, Laplace had the former sabotage the experiment by replacing the Leyden jar used with one that held a non-lethal charge of electricity.
In 1793, the college was turned into a prison, its first detainees being the Jacobin Jacques-Louis David, advocate of painless death Joseph-Ignace Guillotin and the governess to the royal children, Madame de Tourzel. The college chapel eventually became a sugar store reserved to the upper classes of Paris. Today, the college houses the Institut de France and the Bibliothèque Mazarine. The latter holds 275,000 volumes, many of which were recovered from victims of the guillotine and émigrés, as well as from King Louis XVI.
- The database entry for the College incorrectly states the eponymous four nations were "Flanders, Alsace, Piedmont and Artois". In fact, Artois was considered part of the Flanders and the fourth nation was actually Roussillon. Moreover, France had acquired only the Piedmontese border town of Pignerol, not the entirety of Piedmont.