University of Erfurt

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The Private Library of Duke August (1772-1822)

About Duke August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and his literary and scientific interests

August Emil Leopold enjoyed with his brother Friedrich comprehensive training, from 1788-1791 they were taught in Geneva. After the death of his father, Duke Ernst II, in 1804, August took over the government. His admiration for Napoleon brought hardly any benefits for his territory during the Napoleonic Wars. August is best known as an art collector and patron. The Chinese cabinet at Castle Friedenstein goes back to his passion for collecting. After the death of his first wife he was married to Karoline Amalie of Hesse-Kassel (1771-1848). He was considered as "limitless vain" and according to Heinrich August Ottokar Reichard to have had an"effeminate feature in his manner".

The Private Library and its Catalogue

Herzog August read a lot and thoroughly, he also wrote poems and composed. His private library contained 7,000 titles, which are listed in two catalogues (FB Gotha Chart. A 2322, Chart. A 2323: 1, 2, 3). The more than 5,000 traditional books are recognizable by the oval stamp of Duke August and carry on the back of the title page often the entry "E.L.A. Bibl." Although the titles have been provided with shelfmarks, they do not appear on the copies. Herzog August collected literature from all subjects, more than 80% of his collection is printed in  the German language.

Used Literature

  • Beck, August: August Emil Leopold, Herzog von Sachsen-Gotha und Altenburg, in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Bd. 1. Leipzig 1875, S. 681-683.
  • Uhde, Hermann: H.A.O. Reichard (1751-1828). Seine Selbstbiographie. Stuttgart 1877.

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