Poznań Jesuit Library

Swedish armies systematically plundered rich libraries on the continent during the many wars of the 17th century. It may seem offensive to us, but it was general practice then, and in accordance with public international law of the time.

One of the collections taken as war booty during the wars between Sweden and Poland is the one from the Jesuit College of Poznań (Posen).

In 1655 the Swedish King Charles X Gustavus attacked Poland, and during this period important book collections were taken as war booty from colleges and monasteries in Poznań. In 1660 a peace treaty was eventually settled between the two countries in Oliwa. It was decided there that the Polish King should give up all his claims to the Swedish crown, and that parts of the war booty should be restored to Poland.

July 21,1655, the Swedish field marshal Arvid Wittenberg entered Poznań and the city was held by the Swedes until the end of September 1656. The most important library there belonged to the Jesuit College, which had been founded in 1572 by Bishop Adam Konarski, who also donated many books to it at that time. The majority of the books from the Jesuit College reached the University Library in Uppsala via Klas Rålamb, a Swedish nobleman with literary interests, who had been sent to Poznań by the Swedish King at the beginning of 1656. The books came to Uppsala with the acquisition of Rålamb’s library in 1693. In this acquisition two catalogues from 1609 and 1610 on the Jesuit College library were included, but also a catalogue of the contents of Rålamb’s own library in 1690.

The catalogues in digital images:

Although most of the books are from the library of the Jesuits, there are also books from the libraries of the Dominicans and the Bernardines, but while the number of books originating in the later libraries is relatively limited, those from the Jesuit College are several thousands. The reason why we do not know the exact number, is that the collection has not been kept together according to provenance, but split up and inserted into the general collections of the library according to subject. This circumstance is also why we still miss a good overview of the contents of the collections from Poznań. Another fact that complicates the picture is that many duplicates have been discarded or donated to other libraries in Sweden during the centuries.

The registration of the books from Poznań still in the collections of Uppsala University Library is ongoing. Registered books to date can be found in the national library catalogue Libris and the Uppsala Library catalogue:

See also:
Trypucko, Józef, Polonica vetera Upsaliensia: Catalogue des imprimés polonais ou concernant la Pologne des XVe, XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles conservés à la Bibliothèque de l'Univversité royale d'Upsala. - Uppsala: Universitetsbibl., 1958. - (Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis; 13)

On Literary War Booty

Göransson, Ulf, "Kulturarvskrigsbyten och den rättsliga utvecklingen från Grotius", i Bevara för framtiden (red. Peter Sjökvist), Uppsala 2016, s. 73-82.

Munkhammar, Lars, ”Dessa eviga krav på återställande”, i Bevara för framtiden (red. Peter Sjökvist), Uppsala 2016, s. 83-94.

Sjökvist, Peter, "Freden i Oliwa och restitutionen av bokliga krigsbyten", i Biblis 68 (Vintern 2014/15), s. 20–23.

Walde, Otto, Storhetstidens litterära krigsbyten. En kulturhistorisk-bibliografisk studie, vol. 1–2, Uppsala 1916–1920.


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