Krzysztof Soliński
THE LIBRARY OF THE KRIPPLEIN CHRISTI LUTHERAN CHURCH IN WSCHOWA IN LIGHT OF ITS BOOK COLLECTION AT THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF POLAND AND OTHER SOURCES

The Herbergers’ Library


The book collection of the Herbergers family laid the foundations for the Kripplein Christi Library, established after 8 November 1641. This
was primarily Valerius Herberger senior’s book collection, only slightly increased by his son and grandson. This is proven by numerous notes by Herberger senior notes on the books, and frequent handwritten dedications to him. The book collection was built-up at least since the 1590s. A good number of inscriptions and dedications are not dated, and another shortcoming lies in the fact that, during the subsequent process of binding detached prints into boundwiths, some notes have been excessively trimmed. Lauterbach estimated the initial book collection size at 1,200 volumes.31

The Herbergers’ book collection volumes lack such distinctive provenience characteristics as, for example, the further discussed legacies of Samuel Müller, Johann Ernest Bensheim or Pastor Paul Emanuel Gürtler. All the books from those donations feature ownership inscriptions that make them easily distinguishable. 

The Herbergers’ ownership inscriptions are only included in a few volumes. Rarely did Valerius Herberger senior or his son, Zacharias, sign
their books. It is more often the authors’ handwritten dedications for both Wschowa pastors and their handwritten notes on the book leaves
that confirm the actual ownership. Around 1610/1611, some books were bound with parchment and the owners’ initials were embossed in the upper covers: V[alerii] H[erbergeri] F[raustadiensis] and Z[achariae] H[erbergeri] F[raustadiensis].
It should be noted here that a significant number of the uniformly parchment-bound volumes include inscriptions of d[omi]nus Herberger
or Herberger. The location of inscriptions, however, is rather unexpected, as they are placed on the pastedown where it adheres to the board
(fig. 1). This proves that new book blocks had been signed before they were handed over to a bookbinder. These notes are visible mostly in the case of damaged copies; at times they show through a fine pastedown.

The issue becomes more evident in the case of the sparse books of Valerius junior, who died prematurely at the age of 23. He also used to sign his books in a non-standard location, namely at the very end of the text. Hence, Sum Valerij Herbergeri inscriptions can frequently be found following the printed word +(fig. 2). Undoubtedly, these are inscriptions of Valerius Herberger junior, as they appear in books published after 1627, i.e. following the death of his grandfather.

Despite these hardships, a partial reconstruction of the Herbergers’ book collection as of 1641 is still possible nearly 400 years later. Apart from some insightful information provided by Lauterbach in Fraustadtisches Zion and — obviously — the preserved book collection per se, a handwritten alphabetical index to the catalogue in preparation, held today in the National Library of Poland, is of the utmost importance.32 It is an early document, dating which becomes possible based mostly on information contained in Fraustadtisches Zion. In the chapter devoted to the library, Lauterbach mentions that it was Gottfried Textor (the Latin school’s headmaster in 1646–1656) who organised the first book collection for the consideration of 15 thalers.33 Most importantly, Lauterbach lists the names of eleven donors, with the titles of the books donated, the majority of which survived and today are held in the National Library of Poland.

At times, Lauterbach indicates the years of particular donations inconsistently, yet these data are frequently present on the volumes. After comparing the information provided by the pastor with inscriptions on the volumes, it follows that the latest donation from among those mentioned by Lauterbach enriched the library’s collection in 1704.

Most likely, the manuscript results from the book collection “organising”  works performed by Textor. Bound with a piece of a parchment manuscript, the document has dimensions of 19.5 x 16.5 cm and contains 156 leaves altogether, within which leaves 1–15, 100–148 and 150–156 remain blank. It can be described as an alphabetical index allowing navigation through the section (class) system applied in the library. There were nine sections; perhaps an inventarium was also prepared. The document has no title and presents as follows: it contains the handwriting of at least two people — later additions to the original text are visible; the layout is of two columns per page; each column consists of four rubrics: praenomen, [nomen et titulus], columna, litera.

The “catalog” was drawn up in alphabetical order (author–title), though the principle was not strictly observed in entry indexing within particular letters. The entries are organised alphabetically by surname, and in the case of authorless works — by titles. The bibliographic descriptions consist of: the author’s forename and surname, abridged title, designations of a part and bibliographic format. There is no publisher’s imprint. The author’s name is only provided with the first item on the list and replaced by an ellipsis in the relevant following items. A bibliographic format and a reference to location within the library (columna, litera) are also provided only once and replaced by an ellipsis should they refer to items indicated previously. The columna rubric contains section numbers identified with Arabic numerals. Depending on their formats, books received their location in a particular section, indicated by uppercase letters presented in the litera rubric. 

Arguably, the digits 1–9 pointed also to library racks, whereas the letters A–I identified shelves, counting from bottom to top, in such a manner that the largest formats were grouped under the first letters of the alphabet. Hence, the further a letter is towards the end of the alphabet, the smaller the format of the book. Generally, it can be stated that sections 1–2 contained the Bible, concordances and commentaries; sections 3–5 accommodated respective disciplines of theology; sections 6–7 housed works on grammar and rhetoric, thesauruses and lexicons; section 8 was devoted to medicine, natural history and geography, and section 9 — to law. The index comprises 2,000 titles, and although some of them indicate works issued together and reference notes, demonstrably, it was a very large library. 

Section 7 contained the largest number of titles, reaching over 400, while section 9 ranked as the smallest one, with about 30 items.
In principle, the catalogue contains works published until the 1630s, i.e. those that could be owned by Valerius Herberger senior (†1627), his son Zacharias (†1631) and Valerius junior (†1641) — the library’s founder and the last owner of the book collection. Moreover, the catalogue lists very early donations to the library, certified by Lauterbach: Braunschweigischer Evangelischer Kirchen Harmoneyen (original spelling of titles preserved) donated in 1647 by Matthaeus Scholz from Świdnica (fig. 3),34 two incunables: Biblia cum postillis Nicolai de Lira in four volumes, the property of Pastor Michael Eder, after his death in 1648 donated by his last wife, Barbara Juliana Vechner (fig. 4).35

The catalogue does not record the following works: Analysis Evangeliorum Dieterici, in quarto donated by Johannes Schnatzinger while he served as the Latin school’s deputy rector, i.e. between 1676 and 1681,36 Matthaei Poli Synopsis Criticorum, in folio in five volumes, donated in 1703 by deacon Michael Schön37 or Livius, in folio donated by Christian Sachß in 1704.38

On the last leaf at the end of the manuscript there is a note informing about books stowed into five chests.39 In the light of Lauterbach’s account, this points to the evacuation of the book collection to Gramschütz in 1656.

Importantly, the catalogue already contains Schola pietatis in five volumes, donated to the Kripplein Christi Library by a spouse of Siegmund von Loss, whose estate housed the collection in 1656.40  On these grounds, it can be concluded that the catalogue may have been drawn up after 24 May 1656, following the return of the book collection from Grębocice. Therefore, it documents the first 15 years of the library’s existence and, after deducting donations from 1641–1656, it may reveal the estimate size of the Herbergers’ book collection at the time it
was bequeathed to the Kripplein Christi Library. Unfortunately, Gottfried Textor left his post in the same year and the work he had started was
discontinued. The catalogue itself is not complete, as evidenced by prints with Herbergers’ provenience found in the book collection, but which the index does not record. Herberger’s manuscripts are also omitted.

The analysis of the index contents has revealed that, since its earliest days, the library housed complete sets of works by the most significant
Lutheran theologians of their times: Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Martin Chemnitz, Georg Major, Balthasar Mentzer and others, as
well as Calvinist theologians: John Calvin, Théodore de Bèze, Lambert Daneau, David Pareus and many other Reformation activists, just to list
a few: Huldrych Zwingli, Jacobus Arminius, Jan Hus, etc. The works of Catholic theologians, for example, Robert Bellarmine or Antonio Possevino, account for a small share of the book collection. This would confirm Janusz Tazbir and Wojciech Kriegseisen’s views on modifications in the structure of dissident book collections from the middle of the 17th century, triggered off by the Counter-Reformation offensive.41

The catalogue records numerous Polonica among which the Psałterz (Psalter) translated by Jan Kochanowski (copy and edition unknown today; there were as many as 25 editions up until 1656) needs to be listed first, and the following: Marcin Kromer’s De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum (copy and edition unknown, there were three editions); Salomon Neugebauer’s Historia rerum Polonicarum (copy unknown; there were two editions), Jan Łasicki’s Clades Dantiscanorum (copy unknown; presumably the Frankfurt edition from 1578), Paweł Galowski’s Expliatio catechismi Polon.

in octavo (print unknown), Martin Luther’s Postilla domowa translated by Hieronim Malecki (Königsberg, at the heirs of Jan Daubman, 1574), as well as two unspecified sets of Polish constitutions in folio. The nontrinitarian literature is also well represented: the works of Andrzej Dudycz, Racovian Catechism (copy unknown, presumably a German translation from 1608), Jakub Zabarowski’s Ad Nodum Gordium seu disputationem de vocatione ministrorum a Martino Śmiglecki... editam... responsio (Raków, Sebastian Sternacki, 1615, copy unknown). And the works by authors of the Land of Wschowa and Silesia: complete works by Valerius and Zacharias Herberger, works by Leonhard Krentzheim, Jan Amos Komeński, Jan Jonston, Daniel Sennert, Nataniel Tilesius, Abraham Scultet, Eliasz Reusner and others.


31 S. F. Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 444.

32 Call no. RPS Akc.9431.
33 S. F. Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 446. M. Friebe, op. cit., p. 11.

34 Call no. SD XVII.3.24079: August von Braunschweig, Evangelische Kirchen-Harmonie, Wolffen-Büttel 1646.
35 Call no. SD Inc.F.1278 I, III–IV: Biblia, Lat. Cum postillis Nicolai de Lyra. P I–IV, Strasbourg 1492 (IBP 1046). Vol. II originated from edition Biblia. P. I–IV, Venezia 1488 (IBP 1042) — in loss (IBP† 485). Information quoted after Michał Spandowski.
36 Call no. SD XVII.3.24467-24468 adl.: C. Dietericus, Analysis logica Evangeliorum, Erphordiae 1618.
37 Call no. SD XVII.4.10368 I–V: M. Poole, Synopsis Criticorum Aliorumque, Francofurti ad Moenum 1678–1679.
38 Call no. SD XVI.F.2030: T. Livius, Libri Omnes Qvotqvot Ad Nostram Aetatem Pervenervnt, Francofurti ad Moenum 1568.

39 Call no. RPS Akc.9431, leaf 159v.: A[nn]o 1656 d[ie] 24 Maji eingeleget in: arca no. 1: ex columna n[ummer]o. I. II. III. lit[eri] C. D. E. F. G. biß auf etliche Stück, [arca] no. 2. die ubrigen ex col[umna] I. II. III. lit[eri] D. E. F. G. und die zu colum[na] IV. V. VI. literi B. C. D. E. F. G., arca
no. 3. ex col[umna] IV. V. VI. lit[eri] D. E. F. G. It[em] ex colum[na] VII. lit[eri] B. C. D. E. F. H. I., arca no. 4. ex col[umna] VI. lit[era] A et col[umna] VII. lit[era] B. et seqq. It[em] col[umna] VIII und etliche ex col[umna] IX, [arca] no. 5. ex col[umna] I. II. III. lit[era] B. in folio 27 Stücke.
It[em] ex col[umna] VIII. It[em] ex col[umna] IX. alle [...] stische Buch auch in fol.
40 Call no. SD XVII.2.8078 I–V: J. Gerhard, Scholae pietatis liber I–V, Jena 1622–1623.
41 J. Tazbir, Szlachta i teologowie. Studia z dziejów polskiej kontrreformacji, Warszawa 1987, 40;
W. Kriegseisen, “Książka i biblioteki w kulturze ewangelików polskich w XVII i XVIII w”,
Z badań nad Polskimi Księgozbiorami Historycznymi 1992, f. 13, pp. 7–8.