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Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Universitätsbibliothek

The printed books of the Bibliotheca Palatina (stampati palatini)

Due to its impact for the protestant theologians as an intellectual ‘armoury’, Heidelberg's collection became a target for the Catholic side during Thirty Years War. Pope Gregory XV. (1621-1623) tried early to incorporate the collection to the Vatican Library. The siege of Heidelberg through the armies of the Catholic League in autumn of 1622 set the stage for reaching this aim. After having sifted through the complete library collection, the papal emissary Leo Allatius sent ca. 3.700 manuscripts and ca. 13.000 printed books to Rome to where they arrived in August 1623. With the exception of a relatively small number of german-language manuscripts passed back to Heidelberg in 1816 as a result of the peace negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, nearly all non-german, particularly the Latin and Greek manuscripts and all printed books (stampati palatini) of the collection, are now part of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana at Rome.

The book collection covers the most important titles on science and fiction of the 16th and early 17th century. While literature for studies and teachings in the university area has been collected since the University's foundation in 1386, works of important contemporary scholars were added in the 17th century. Jakob Wimpheling, Eobanus Hessus, Denis Godefroy, Marquard Freher and Martin Opitz, among others, are represented with their texts. A guarantor for the relevance to the present of the collection was the Europe-wide estemeed philologist Janus Gruter (1560-1627), who became in 1602 the last librarian of the Bibliotheca Palatina. He systematically collected the scientific relevant literature offered by the German and European book market.

The Heidelberg Prince Electors took part in the growth of the University Library by donations of juridical and medical literature. As exponents of the Calvinist persuasion they collected e.g. theological works written or owned by French or Austrian protestants.

The donation of the protestant Ulrich Fugger (1526-1584) of Augsburg meant a further quantitative and qualitative augmentation of the manuscript and book collection. His diversified interests didn't only cover mercantile literature. In his collection we can find – among other – writings about astronomy, astrology, zoology and botany. Writings in Greek, Slavic and Arab language are represented, too.

The microfiche edition of the stampati palatini

Between 1989 and 1996 the publishing house Saur (Munich) – edited by Leonard Boyle and Elmar Mittler and with the financial support of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg – microfiched all Roman stampati palatini and added an alphabetical index. The microfiche edition contains on 21,000 microfiches and in the corresponding catalogue both the printed works from the different collections of the Vatican Library, to which they were incorporated after their transport to Rome, respectively to which they returned as donations after having given them away as duplicates and prints traced in the collections of other Roman libraries. They all were compiled regarding different criteria like binding design, authorship, entries made by Vatican staff and by means of existing indexes and catalogues, files and research on single parts. Not included are works that got lost and works not reconstructible so far, respectively works found unable for publication on microfiche for other reasons. Works that remained in Germany are excluded, too. They are now partly in possession of other libraries, e.g. Mainz, Darmstadt, Munich, Cologne (67 prints) und einen Ottheinrich-Band in der Stadt- und Regionalbibliothek Erfurt.

In volumes 1 and 2 the cataloguing records of the incunabula and prints of the 16th and 17th century are numbered consecutively within an alphabet. The entries assemble author, title, printer/publisher, printing year, foliation/pagination, shelfmark of the original, annotations and if necessary imprint of the original work or indicates bound with works as well as the microfiche number. Copies and other editions of a printed work are registered, but only in regard to variations. Volume 3 contains the index of shelfmarks, the index of the microfiches and a chronological index. In volume 4 follows the index of persons, the index of printers/publishers together with their works in alphabetical order and the index of the publishing places and the places of printing.

On microfiche are presented, arranged by actual location, the complete printed works with traces of use and covers, which are important identification marks for the Palatina collection.

Notes for users

All microfiche editions of the printed books are registered in our onlince catalogue HEIDI. You can find the collection by searching with shelfmark 89 MA 246 [then choose “Volumes”].

The microfiches are available for inspection at the Multimedia Centre; service hours: Mon-Fri 8:30-22:00 and Sat-Sun 9:00-22:00.

All microfiches are labelled alphanumerically; a title can be found under its individual number which is noted in our online catalogue HEIDI, too.

The Multimedia Centre offers digital reader-printers to multiply, print (with costs) or store the images on your USB-Stick or CD-ROM.

Further information and literature

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