Due to its significance for Protestant theologians as an intellectual ‚armoury’ , Heidelberg's collection became a target for the Catholic opposition during The Thirty Years’ War. Pope Gregory XV (acting, 1621-1623) aimed to incorporate the collection into the Vatican Library. The siege of Heidelberg by the armies of the Catholic League in Autumn 1622 set the stage for achieving this aim. After reviewing the complete library collection, the papal emissary Leo Allatius sent approximately 3,700 manuscripts and 13,000 printed books to Rome, where they arrived in August 1623. With the exception of a relatively small number of German-language manuscripts, which returned to Heidelberg in 1816 after the peace negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, nearly all non-German texts, in particular the Latin and Greek manuscripts and all printed books (stampati palatini) in the collection, are now part of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome. Enrico Stevenson published a two-volume inventory of the Stampati Palatini in 1886.
The book collection covers the most important titles on science and fiction of the 16th and early 17th century. While academic literature for university studies and teaching had been collected since the foundation of the University in 1386, works of important contemporary scholars were first added in the 17th century. Jakob Wimpheling, Eobanus Hessus, Denis Godefroy, Marquard Freher and Martin Opitz, among others, are represented by their texts. A guarantor for the topicality and relevance of the collection was the widely respected philologist Janus Gruter (1560-1627), who in 1602 became the last librarian of the Bibliotheca Palatina. He meticulously collected academically relevant literature available on the German and European book market.
The Heidelberg Prince Electors also contributed to the growth of the University Library with extensive donations of judicial and medical literature. As representatives of Calvinism, they collected, for example, theological works written or owned by French or Austrian Protestants.
The significant donation of the library of the Augsburg protestant Ulrich Fugger (1526-1584) led to a further increase in both the quality and quantity of the manuscript and book collection. His diversified interests were not limited solely to mercantile literature. His collection included, amongst other texts, writings on astronomy, astrology, zoology and botany. There were also numerous texts in Greek, Slavic and Arabic
The Microfiche Edition of the stampati palatini
Between 1989 and 1996, the Munich publishing house, Saur-Verlag – edited by Leonard Boyle and Elmar Mittler with the financial support of the state of Baden-Württemberg – microfiched all the stampati palatini in Rome and created an alphabetical index. Included in the edition of over 21,000 microfiches and the corresponding catalogue, are both the printed works from various Vatican Library collections, which incorporated the Heidelberg prints in 1623 and since then have continued to store them, as well as prints from other libraries in Rome. They were all compiled according to different criteria, such as binding design, authorship, entries made by Vatican officials, in addition to information from existing directories, catalogues, files and research on individual collections. Titles that have been lost cannot be reconstructed or that, for various reasons cannot be microfiched or published have not been included. Works from the collection which remain in Germany, are also not included in the microfiche. Some of these are also now owned by other libraries, such as Mainz, Darmstadt, Munich, Köln (67 Drucke) and an Otto-Henry volume in the City and Regional Library in Erfurt.
The catalogues of the incunabula and the 16th and 17th century prints are ordered alphabetically in 1 and 2 of the catalogue. The entries detail the author, title, printer or publisher, year of publication, number of pages, original shelf mark, annotations such as, if applicable, the original publication note or associated scripts, in addition to the microfiche number. Copies and other editions of a print are registered, but only differences are shown here. Volume 3 includes the register of shelf marks, microfiches and a chronological register. Volume 4 includes the register of people, the register of printers and publishers alongside their works in alphabetical order and the register of publication and printing locations.
The complete prints are reproduced on microfiches and are arranged according to their current location with records of their use and various bindings, which are important identification marks, especially in the case of the Palatina collection.
Information for users
All microfiche editions of the printed books are recorded in our online catalogue HEIDI. The collection can be found under the shelf mark 89 MA 246 [then choose „Volumes“].
The microfiches are accessible at the Multimedia Centre. The opening hours are Mon-Fri 8:30-22:00 and Sat-Sun 9:00-22:00. The Multimedia Centre staff present the microfiches.
All microfiches are labelled alphanumerically; the title can be found under this individual number, which is also noted in the online catalogue, HEIDI.
The Multimedia Centre has digital reader-printers available for using microforms. Users are able to re-enlarge the microfiches and save the data on USB sticks or CD-ROMs for further processing, free of charge. Individual pages can also be printed out on site for a fee.
© Maria Effinger, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, 10/2012
Translated by Emily Giles