University of Erfurt

Study Centre for Protestantism


The Gotha Research Library emerged from the collections of the duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, which was founded by Duke Ernst the Pious with the construction of the castle Friedenstein. This was a residence in the 1640s and was continually added to the acquisitions over the next centuries. The Dukes of Saxe-Gotha saw themselves as the guardians of the Lutheran heritage. After losing their electoral dignity as a result of the defeat of Johann Friedrich of Saxony in the Battle of Mühlberg 1547, denomination, was among other things, a means to compensate for the loss of political importance of Ernestine. This was made possible through the creation of an autonomous cultural memory. After the founding of the Gotha state in 1640, the dukes were targeted to gather sources that would help Veit Ludwig von Seckendorf and his followers to develop a history of the Reformation. In connection with the anniversary of the Reformation in 1717, the reigning Duke Friedrich II of Saxe-Gotha had the Lutheran-Orthodox theologian Ernst Salomon Cyprian (d. 1745) document all activities for the anniversary. It was not just a construction of history, serving the legitimacy of the Lutheran territories but to preserve the Lutheran heritage and - in view of the contemporary intra-Protestant conflicts over the pietistic movement - the positioning of Protestantism around 1700. Thus a basis for the history of the Protestant movements as a whole up to the early 18th Centuries was created. Under Cyprian's leadership, the library became an early centre of the Reformation history itself and its heritage of Lutheran orthodoxy. The scientific revolutions of the 17th and 18th Century, the emergence of new religious movements such as Pietism and the Enlightenment, found its way at the court under Duke Friedrich III and his wife Louise Dorothea and gave the library a new character. On site, right in the historical rooms of the castle Friedenstein, these transformations of Protestantism can be studied. This gives a first glimpse, on the following pages, to the stocks on Reformation history, education, Bibliotheca Gerhardina, denomination cultures, piety and court culture, politics, pietism and nonconformity, philosophy of early modern age and Enlightenment.



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