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Treasures of the University Library
Bibliotheca Amploniana

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CA. 2° 114, f. 88v

The Bibliotheca Amploniana is the largest extant manuscript collection preserved almost completely. It is one of the most important manuscript collections of a medieval scholar worldwide, and with 979 manuscripts and 1882 incunables and prints a central segment of the University and Research Library at Erfurt University. Prominent among the manuscripts are theological, philosophical and medicinal writings, which are joined by numerous codices on grammar, rhetoric, poetry and classical authors, as well as civil and ecclesiastical law and mathematics.

The library has been initiated by Amplonius Rating de Berka, who turned over his extensive collection to the Collegium Porta Coeli (Amplonianum) in 1412, with the obligation to recipients of the college’s scholarships to provide the library with adding at least one more book to the collection upon leaving the university. Accordingly, the collection grew continuously over the centuries, though some manuscripts have also been lost or passed into other hands. By the efforts of Erfurt citizens the collection was preserved when the university was closed in the 19th century. Being in the ownership of the city itself since 1908, it has been given to the University Library in 2001 as a permanent loan, where the Catholic-Theological Faculty has taken up the task of curating the library in 2005, and initiating a number of related research projects.

The Bibliotheca Amploniana is a veritable treasure trove for both university and city of Erfurt. The manuscript collection of Amplonius, himself rector at Erfurt University in his day, has been the basis of studies of both late medieval and early modern students. The library itself also became an object of research later on, which today draws scholars from around the globe. The city of Erfurt has long taken care of the expert preservation of the Amploniana, until it was turned over to the care of the University and Research Library.

In 2012, the city and library celebrated the 600th anniversary of the Bibliotheca Amploniana with numerous presentations and events, directed as much at knowledgeable scholars and at the interested public.

Find a collection of Amploniana prints

Campus Nordhäuser Straße
Welcome to Erfurt University

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Erfurt University Campus, Main building

The University in Erfurt is one of the oldest German universities. Building on the intellectual wealth of monastic scholars like Meister Eckhardt, it was the third to be opened in German territories after Heidelberg and Cologne in 1392. Early on, it drew large numbers of students, placing great emphasis on the study of church and civil law. Among its famous students, the university counts reformer Martin Luther who studied at Erfurt University from 1501 to 1505, earning his later doctorate in theology.

To the same period, the fifteenth century, dates the famous Bibliotheca Amploniana, an invaluable manuscript collection. It is even surpassed by the holdings of manuscripts and early modern books at the Research Library in Gotha, numbering around 500,000 items before 1800. Both are centers of research. Johann Gutenberg’s invention of movable letters was soon transferred to Erfurt.

The city of Erfurt is still dominated by the intellectual and commercial wealth (including the parents of Johann Sebastian Bach) and the art of its post-medieval phase. The University of Erfurt was closed in 1816 by the Prussians, eclipsed by people like Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at nearby Jena and Weimar. It returned to full university status in the 1990s only.

Today, the university has around 6,000 students in humanities and social sciences, with the Key Focus »Religion« strong in all faculties and the Max Weber Center. Erfurt is one of the top addresses for scholars worldwide as a center for Religious Studies in Mediterranean Antiquity, Mogul and modern India, and Eastern as well as post-reformation central Europe. It is home of several research projects financed by the German Research Foundation and the European Research Council.

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