Were the Louis-le-Grand and Henri IV high schools revolutionary? Not only do they bear the names of kings, today they educate excellent students, chosen after a rigorous selection process. Under the Ancien Régime, these establishments were colleges, run by monks, open to the sons of nobility and the bourgeoisie. If future revolutionaries like Maximilien Robespierre or Camille Desmoulins were accepted, it was because they received scholarships. The education that they received was very classical, and even conservative: consequently, their future dedication to the Revolution did not start here.
Before Lycée Henri IV: the École centrale du Panthéon
The Revolution did not make a clean break with the absolute monarchy’s educational system, which was, nevertheless, founded on inequality and privileges. Louis-le-Grand College functioned, up until October 1793, under the name of Equality College. On this date, it became known as the French Prytaneion, in reference to the Prytaneion of Athens, in which deserving citizens were fed and housed at the cost of the city. Its boarders took classes at Ecole centrale du Panthéon, located in the premises of the former Henri IV College (currently Lycée Henri IV). 301 students from well-to-do families lived here in very comfortable conditions: the son of the deputy Brissot, as well as both sons of the exiled Polish revolutionary Miaczinski were educated here.