University of Erfurt

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The Private Library of Duke Friedrich IV (1774-1825)

About Duke Friedrich IV of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and his interests

Friedrich IV received a solid education along with his brother August. Among other things they were taught 1788-1791 by Samuel Elisé von Bridel-Brideri (1761-1828) in Geneva. In the service of the Gotha infantry regiment, Friedrich incurred during the Napoleonic campaigns a severe wound that he tried to cure by numerous treatments. On one of his trips, probably at the end of the 1810s, Friedrich converted in Italy to Catholicism. After the death of his brother August, who had died in 1822 without male heirs, Friedrich took over control of the Gotha territory. He left the government to his advisers, among them Bernhard August von Lindenau (1779-1854).
Friedrich, who was regarded as versed in the fine arts and performed as a singer, promoted the scholar Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1767-1811). Seetzen acquired one of the still important collections of oriental manuscripts for Gotha in the Middle East.
Friedrich IV reigned only three years - then the line of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg died out. In his last will and testament of 13 December 1824 Friedrich brought the scientific and art collections of the castle Friedenstein to a “Fiedeikommiss” and thus secured their preservation and permanent retention on their ancestral place.

The Private Library and its Catalogue

Today we still know very little about the dealing of Duke Friedrich IV with books. His private library with 800 volumes is the smallest of the ducal collections of books of the 18th Century on castle Friedenstein. Specifica are not identificable, belletristic literature alternates from reference books, philosophical titles or even natural history literature. Writer of the catalogue that applies as a Directory of the Library of Duke Friedrichs IV (FB Gotha Chart. A 1216) is the tutor of the Prince and librarian Samuel Elisé of Bridel-Brideri. The catalogue in one volume is created according to the alphabet of the title itself, even if the authors are known.

Used Literature

  • Beck, August: Friedrich IV., Herzog v. Sachsen-Gotha u. Altenburg, 1822-1825. In: Ders.: Geschichte der Regenten des gothaischen Landes. Gotha 1868, S. 451-458.

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