The genesis of Soviet historical science has often been studied neglecting the traditional studies that came before it and which were replaced by the new school. The complete overhaul of school and university education following the 1917 revolution caused uncountable personal tragedies, profound disillusionment and a real sense of desperation. Russian historians assumed different stances towards the civil war and some were forced to emigrate. The majority of university professors remained loyal to their university and continued to work according to the new conditions created. The imposition of the new power’s ideology was manifest from the early months but, to a certain degree, a form of compromise appeared possible. Could this have ever been realized? What were the mechanisms of the conflict that so greatly hindered reconciliation between the new power and universities? The paper attempts to retrace the universities’ fate following the revolution, and is applied to university studies of medieval and early modern history of Western countries, Italy in particular.