[P]ractically all universities have at all times been under the supervision of Government and have derived their privileges from the political authorities. During the Middle Ages the universities were really developments of Cathedral schools, and as such were usually under the authority of the Chancellor of the Cathedral. As an ecclesiastical person he looked to the Pope as the source of his authority, and in order that uniformity of requirement for various degrees and of educational methods might be maintained, there was practically universal agreement that such centralization of the power to grant privileges for the erection of universities and the conferring of degrees was the most practical way. With regard to Perugia besides there was the additional reason that the Pope represented the political as well as the ecclesiastical authority in the matter, and that very naturally the encouragement for the good educational work already being done in the Umbrian City should come from him.
James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)