University of Erfurt

Cataloguing the Reformation Manuscripts of the Gotha Research Library

Gefördert durch die 

The Project

The project "Cataloguing the Reformation manuscripts of the Gotha Research Library" was promoted between late 2004 and early 2009 by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. This very diverse collection of more than 15,800 single documents and more than 7,000 dinner speeches has grown through inheritances and a targeted acquisition strategy of the Gotha Dukes over the centuries to one of the most important collections of its kind. Developed are occidental manuscripts from the 16th Century with a predominantly secular historical relevance. Since most of the collection is composed from legacies of the Lutheran dynasty of Ernestine and their denominationally motivated acquisitions, the main focus is on the Wittenberg Reformation and its widespread impact, which extended over the Reich to the Netherlands and to Sweden and Hungary. The collection testifies to the international relations and cultural contacts of Lutheran princes, theologians and laymen with actors from widely separated parts of Europe. Not only by the confrontation with the Pope in Rome, but also for example by an opinion of the King of Portugal to the Luther affair, through the negotiations of the Saxon electors, the Schmalkalden League and the Augsburg confessional relatives with England, by the experiments of Philipp Melanchthon, the Tübingen professors and the Rostock theologian David Chytraeus, to take contact with the Patriarch in Constantinople, as well as by the reports of members of the German Order in Livonia, which were captured by Russian troops and were later in the service of the Tsar. In particular, due to the extensive partial legacies of the Geneva theologian John Calvin and Théodore Bèze and the Warmia bishops, the collection includes ample source material also about Calvinism in France and Switzerland, the Council of Trent or the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. The corpus thus encompasses the concerns of all three denominations of Christianity, while there are also  points of contact with Judaism, Islam and the Orthodox Church in Europe. The collection contains a dense tradition on university history, especially about Leipzig, Rostock, Tübingen, Wittenberg, Frankfurt an der Oder, Marburg, Jena, Helmstedt, Strasbourg and Herborn, as well as to religious discussions and to empire, federal, princes, county and City days.  Finally, as evidence of the practice of piety in the form of liturgical texts, sermons, catechisms, psalteries, comfort writings as well as choral and prayer books can be found.

The project brought into daylight numerous unknown letters and documents. The development results can be researched online in the HANS-Database of the University and Research Library Erfurt / Gotha. The manuscript catalogue will be published soon in printed form.

Project Staff

Project Management

Dr. Kathrin Paasch (Head of the Gotha Research Library)

Scientific Staff

Dr. Daniel Gehrt


Gabriele Kern

Franziska König


Cornelia Hopf 



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