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What is the historic basis and/or context for "Honoris Causa" degrees? What were the original reasons for granting these?

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    For those interested in current reasons, see academia.stackexchange.com/questions/27618/… – jvriesem May 2 '17 at 15:35
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    Note: Wikipedia does have a bit of information on this (including a claim for the earliest honorary degree, though I'm unable to verify that without access to the original source), if you are okay with a very cursory overview. – Bryan Krause May 2 '17 at 17:45

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