| Erziehungswissenschaftliche Fakultät, Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät, Max-Weber-Kolleg, Philosophische Fakultät, Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät

Return after 207 years: City Museum shows pair of sceptres of the rector of the Old University of Erfurt for the first time

For the Erfurt historian Dr Steffen Raßloff, it is "a cultural event of the century": Starting tonight, the Erfurt City Museum will be showing the insignia of the Old University of Erfurt in a newly designed exhibition. The occasion is the return of the second rector's sceptre, which is returning to its place of origin after 207 years and is being presented to the public again for the first time.

Vitrine mit Insignien des Rektors der Alten Universität Erfurt
The insignia of the "Old University of Erfurt" can now be seen again in the City Museum.
The two sceptres of the "Old University of Erfurt".

The rector's pair of sceptres, which were sold to the Humboldt University of Berlin for 150 thalers after the closure of the Old University of Erfurt by the Prussian state in 1816, is now returning to the Erfurt City Museum on loan for a year. One of the two sceptres was acquired by the city of Erfurt as early as 1974. Since then, talks about a return have been ongoing, which have now led to a first success.

As an expression of power and state independence, the rectors' sceptres of the Old University of Erfurt were among the main insignia of the university administration at the time. The two identical sceptres were made of gilded silver in the 15th century and show stylistic elements of the Gothic period. They were presented during ritual and highly official occasions and were constantly changed over time, among other things by individual inscriptions by the rectors. Today, there is much to suggest that they were presumably never carried forward by the rector himself, but by third parties on his behalf.

In addition to the now reunited pair of sceptres, the exhibition also shows the rector's seal, shoulder cloak and beret as well as the pair of sceptres of the Faculty of Theology. They bear witness to Erfurt's importance as a medieval metropolis and centre of trade, culture and knowledge.

The University of Erfurt

... received its papal founding privilege in 1379 – ahead of Heidelberg (1385) and Cologne (1388) –  as the first university on the present territory of Germany. After renewed privileges in 1389, the "Alma Mater Erfordensis" began teaching in 1392. With its university, Erfurt was a European centre of education, where Martin Luther, among others, studied. After the late medieval heyday, a long downward trend led to its closure by Prussia in 1816. In the 1950s, Erfurt once again became a university city with the "Pädagogische Hochschule" (University of Education). In 1994, the University of Erfurt, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2024, was re-established.