Krzysztof Soliński


The Land of Wschowa used to play a bridging role between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and European cultures; it was a site of
tolerance and freedom for religious refugees. Established at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, the intellectual circle of Wschowa and Leszno constituted a unique phenomenon in this part of Europe.1

The evangelical Latin school at the Kripplein Christi Old Town Church in Wschowa (Fraustadt) became a local “hotbed of the intelligentsia”, where numerous outstanding individuals started their education, among whom were Valerius Herberger (1562–1627),2 a pastor, religious poet and preacher, also known as “Little Luther” or “Polish Luther”;3 Matthaeus Vechner (1587–1630), a court physician of King Sigismund III Vasa; Andreas Gryphius (1616–1664), a poet and playwright, deemed one of the most remarkable Baroque authors in Europe; Samuel Friedrich Lauterbach (1662–1728),4 a pastor and historiographer, the author of the first complete history of Poland written in German; and others. Their private book collections were often passed, with legacies, to the Kripplein Christi Library, following the death of the owners. There were two Lutheran parishes (communities) in Wschowa: the Old Town parish (established in 1555) and the New Town parish (established in 1646). This paper refers only to the former one. 

The history of the Old Town parish started with the introduction of the Reformation to Wschowa in 1552–1555.5 For the first fifty years, however, it was only associated with the Fara Church, taken over from the Catholics, where the first Latin school already operated.6 The Lutheran church named Kripplein Christi (Christ’s Crib) opened in December 1604, and the Latin school at the church opened in 1607. It is only this church and its school that the library discussed in this paper was associated with. 

The library was officially in existence between 1641 and 1945, yet its glory days coincide with the years when the Latin school was in operation, since the library was developed alongside the school, comprising its research and teaching facilities. With the school’s liquidation in 1826 and the opening of the Realgymnasium [a type of secondary school — translator’s note] in Wschowa, the Kripplein Christi Library, whose book collection had not been increased, gradually declined in significance.7 In 1881, 724 volumes (including all incunables and some manuscripts) were taken in deposit by the Staatsarchiv Posen. After Poland regained its independence, they were kept by the State Archive Library in Poznań.8 The  remaining part of the church’s library survived both world wars and remained in Wschowa until 1949, when it was taken over by the Storehouse of Secured Libraries in Poznań.9 In November 1949, the Storehouse divided the collection for the benefit of the National Library in Warsaw.10

The works of Samuel Friedrich Lauterbach, the Wschowa pastor and historiographer, namely Vita, fama et fata Valerii Herbergeri..., and its second-part publication Fraustädtisches Zion, das ist historische Erzehlung, was sich von An. 1500–1700 im Kirch-Wesen zu Fraustadt zugetragen…11 in particular (both published in Leipzig in 1708–1711), consistently remain primary and still valuable sources to the history of the Kripplein Christi Church, and its associated spiritual and intellectual community.

These works have formed the basis for subsequent studies on this subject.12 Appearing in the second part, the chapter Von der Herbergerischen Bibliotheck am Kripplein Christi comprises the oldest surviving description of the Church’s library.13 Its informational value is priceless. The chapter presents numerical data of the original book collection size, as well as information on new accessions, the first cataloguing attempts, the rules on making the collection available and the library’s opening hours. With his well-known inclination to storytelling, Lauterbach shares a handful of information on various events, such as evacuating the entire library to Grębocice (Gramschütz) in Silesia in 1656 out of fear of the Swedes, or two great fires of the Church in 1644 and 1685, which the library survived without a scratch. Moreover, the pastor lists eleven donors and their donations to the library. The bibliographic descriptions of those books are composite by nature, usually limited to the name of an author, a portion of a title and the book’s format. At times, the number of volumes and the place of publication are mentioned or the owner’s handwritten inscription from the volume is quoted. These data have been of particular assistance in dating the preserved library catalogue from 1656. Subsequent studies on the Kripplein Christi parish include, among others, Der neue Zion..., published in 1855 by Pastor Johann Friedrich Specht.14 Regrettably, the publication adds no new insights on the library, with all its references being literal quotes from Lauterbach (for example, the original size of the book collection or information on the evacuation of the library in 1656).

In his Geschichte der ehemaligen Lateinschulen Fraustadts, Moritz Friebe discloses several pieces of valuable information on the library. The work comprises a study on the history of the Wschowa Latin school, including both the evangelical and catholic facilities. In addition to the size of the book collection, Friebe mentions the discontinuation of purchases of new books for the library, and ascertains that new accessions were acquired only through donations.15 Among the 20th century studies, three fascicles Quellen und Forschungen zur Heimatkunde des Fraustädter Landchens, edited by Gotthard Schober (Fraustadt 1927–1936), provide some new facts on the library. Being the jubilee publication on the 300th anniversary of Valerius Herberger senior’s death, the first one is of particular importance.16

* * *

The library of the Kripplein Christi Church was established as a bequest from Valerius Herberger junior (1618–1641). The founder was the
son of Zacharias Herberger (1591–1631) from his marriage with Dorota Deutschlander (1598–1628), and a grandson of Pastor Valerius Herberger (1562–1627). On his deathbed, Valerius Herberger junior passed the entire ancestral book collection to the Kripplein Christi Church and established a bequest of 1,000 thalers, the interest on which was to finance education for poor evangelical youths in his hometown.17 In addition to the scholarship, in his will he also established a bequest of 200 thalers, interest  on which was intended for the library management and for increasing its collection.18 The Herberger scholarship was awarded up until the 1890s.19

Even over 250 years following its establishment, the library would be called “Herberger’s Library” or “Valerius’s Library,” arguably more by virtue of Valerius senior, rather than his grandson’s authority, who was de facto the founder. The earliest documented occurrences in sources on the library’s name date back to the end of the 17th century. Preserved in the book collection are annotations of the Latin school’s rectors and deputy rectors, who also served as librarians looking after the books, which enable us today to compare the popularity of particular names.
Bibliotheca Valeriana20 was a popular name. Other names that can be found include: Bibliotheca Fraustadiensis;21 Bibliotheca Herbergeriana;22 Bibliotheca Valerio-Herbergeriana;23 Bibliotheca ad Praesepe Christi;24 and Bibliotheca Fraustadiensis Herbergeriana.25 Samuel Friedrich Lauterbach employed the following names: Bibliotheca Wschovensis26 and Herbergerische Bibliothek.27 A similar name of Herbergersche Bibliothek was used by Moritz Friebe28 in his work. Pastor Paul Gürtler applied the names: Altstädtische Kirchenbibliothek29 and Bibliothek der evangelischen Kirche zum Kripplein Christi.30 Ultimately, during his service in the church in 1890s, the book collection received the stamp: “Bibliothek der Kirche zum Kripplein Christi in Fraustadt.” 

1 M. Małkus, Wprowadzenie do wystawy “Soli Deo Gloria.” Protestanckie dziedzictwo kulturowe Ziemi Wschowskiej w XVI–XVIII wieku, Wschowa 2014, pp. 3–6. The catalogue accompanies the permanent exhibition at the Museum of the Wschowa Land in Wschowa — [accessed: 10.11.2016]; K. Szymańska, “‘Światu pozostanie ten papier...’ Hasse i Borner – drukarze pogranicza”, Pamiętnik Biblioteki Kórnickiej 2013, vol. 30, p. 12 — [accessed 29.10.2016].
2 J. Szeruda, “Herberger Walery (1562–1627)”, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 9, Wrocław 1960–1961, 433; P. Fijałkowski, “Wątki polskie w działalności duszpasterskiej i twórczości literackiej Walerego Herbergeraę, Odrodzenie i Reformacja w Polsce 1999, vol. 43, pp. 57–72 — [accessed 29.11.2016].

3 Cf. Henschel, Evangelische Lebenszeugen des Posener Landes aus alter und neuer Zeit, Posen 1891, pp. 106–107; A. Nowakowski, Wschowa i Ziemia wschowska w dawnej Polsce (do roku 1793), Białystok 1994, p. 125; A. Kalbarczyk, “‘Mały Luter’ ze Wschowy. Valerius Herberger (1562–1627) wzorem kaznodziei”, Poznańskie Studia Teologiczne 2014, vol. 28, pp. 231–242 — article/view/4093/4160 [accessed 10.11.2016].
4 J. Serczyk, “Lauterbach Samuel Fryderyk (1662–1728)”, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 16, Wrocław 1971, pp. 585–586.
5 J. Dworzaczkowa, “Wprowadzenie reformacji do miast królewskich Wielkopolski”,Odrodzenie i Reformacja w Polsce 1965, vol. 10, p. 71.
6 M. Friebe, Geschichte der ehemaligen Lateinschulen Fraustadts. Beilage zum 41. Jahresbericht des Königlichen Gymnasiums zu Fraustadt, (Fraustadt 1894), p. 36 — http://digital.ub.uniduesseldorf. de/ulbdsp/ periodical/pageview/5329945 [accessed 10.11.2016].
7 Ibidem, p. 39.
8 F. Pohorecki, “Bibljoteka Archiwum Państwowego 1869–1929”, in: Bibljoteki wielkopolskie i pomorskie, ed. S. Wierczyński, Poznań 1929, p. 82 — [accessed 10.11.2016].

9 Archiwum Akt Nowych (Central Archives of Modern Records, referred to as AAN), Ministerstwo Oświaty. Naczelna Dyrekcja Bibliotek. Wydział Bibliotek Naukowych. Zbiornica Księgozbiorów Zabezpieczonych w Poznaniu [Ministry of Education. Central Directorate of Libraries. Research Libraries Department. Storehouse of Secured Libraries in Poznań]. Sprawozdania miesięczne z działalności za lata 1947–50, sygn. 6954, leaf 65. – Bolesław Świderski, Sprawozdanie z działalności Zbiornicy w Poznaniu za miesiąc marzec 1949, Poznań 11 kwietnia 1949 [Monthly Report on the Operations for the Period of 1947–50, call no. 6954, k. 65 — Bolesław Świderski, Report on the Operations of the Storehouse in Poznań for March 1949, Poznań 11 April 1949.].
10 Ibidem, k. 79 – Bolesław Świderski, Sprawozdanie z działalności Zbiornicy w Poznaniu w miesiącu listopadzie 1949, Poznań 6 grudnia 1949 [Bolesław Świderski, Report on the Operations of the Storehouse in Poznań for November 1949, Poznań 6 December 1949]; Biblioteka Narodowa, Archiwum Zakładowe, Protokół zdawczo-odbiorczy z dn. 11 listopada 1949 r., sygn. 1196/1, k. 1.; [The National Library, Institutional Archives, Handover Report of 11 November 1949, call no. 1196/1, leaf 1.].
11 S. F. Lauterbach, Fraustädtisches Zion, das ist historische Erzehlung, was sich von An. 1500–1700 im Kirch-Wesen zu Fraustadt zugetragen., Leipzig 1711 — [accessed 29.12.2016].
12 For example: Christian S. Thomas, the author of the first describing of Lutheran churches in Poland, constantly quotes Lauterbach: Altes und Neues vom Zustande der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirchen im Konigreiche Polen, Wrocław 1754 —
publication/295695 [accessed 10.11.2016].
13 S. F. Lauterbach, op. cit., pp. 440–448.

14 J. F. Specht, Der neue Zion, oder die Geschichte der evangelisch-lutherischen Gemeinde am Kripplein Christi zu Fraustadt. Herausgegeben zu der 300 jährigen Reformations-Jubelfeier dieser Gemeinde am 18. Mai 1855, Fraustadt 1855.
15 M. Friebe, op. cit., p. 39.
16 F. Lüdtke, W. Bickerich, “Valerius Herberger und seine Zeit, zur 300. Wiederkehr seines Todestages“, Fraustadt 1927 (Quellen und Forschungen zur Heimatkunde des Fraustädter Ländchens; Heft 1).
17 S. F. Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 407.

18 S. F. Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 411; J. F. Specht, op. cit., p. 78.
19 M. Friebe, op. cit., p. 39.
20 Inscription of Johannes Schnatzinger (†1691), deputy rector of the Latin school since 1676, rector between 1681–1691, call no. SD 73.02567 and inscriptions of Johann Lauterbach (1693–1758), deputy rector since 1716 and rector between 1719–1731, call no. SD XVI.F.1887, SD Cyr.520, SD XVIII.3.11960 I-II, SD XVIII.1.24389, SD XVII.4.10335 I-II p.1, SD XVII.4.10330. Unless otherwise specified, all call numbers indicated in reference notes refer to the National Library of Poland collections.
21 Inscriptions of Johannes Christian Schindel, rector between 1703–1708. Call no. SD Cyr.385, SD XVII.3.24789.
22 Inscription of Johann Lauterbach. Call no. SD Cyr.386.
23 Inscription of Johann Lauterbach. Call no. SD XVII.4.10349 III.
24 Inscription of Samuel Müller, born 1671, rector between 1700–1702. Call no. SD XVII.4.10362.
25 Inscription of Johann Lauterbach. Call no. SD XVII.4.4020.
26 S. F. Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 443.
27 Ibidem, p. 440.
28 M. Friebe, op. cit., p. 39.
29 Call no. SD XVII.3.8625-8628 adl.
30 Call no. SD XVIII.2.18792 II, SD XVIII.2.18794.