The Würzburg Collection

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 Thirty Years' War is the library from the castle Marienberg in Würzburg.

Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg 1573-1617, collected a large library in his castle Marienberg in Würzburg. The book collection fell in the hands of Swedes when Gustav II Adolf conquered the castle Marienberg on October 8, 1631.

About a month after the fall of Castle Marienberg, Gustav II Adolf signs a donation letter, in which he donates the entire collection of books to Uppsala University Library. We do not know exactly what books was kept in the library at the time, because the catalogue prepared at the transfer of the books to Sweden is not preserved. However, we know that a number of books from Julius Echter's library had been distributed to the Würzburg Capucin monastery before 1631. Other books from the collection have been dispersed both within Sweden and abroad, but the main part of the library is today held in Uppsala. The books reached Uppsala in 1636.

The beautiful bookbindings in this collection are often decorated with Julius Echter's supralibros in bright colours, and adorned with guilded edges.

There are also a small number of books from other collections in Würzburg at Uppsala University Library, such as the Würzburg University Library and a few volumes from the Jesuit College of Würzburg.

Pius Wittmann has made a catalogue of the books from Würzburg, published in 1891.
The catalogue in digital form:
Wittman, Pius, Würzburger Bücher in der k. schwedischen Universitätsbibliothek zu Upsala, Würzburg, Kgl. Universitätsdr., 1891.

Literature on Julius Echter and his library

  • Fürstbischof Julius Echter - verehrt, verflucht, verkannt. Aspekte seines Lebens und Wirkens anlässlich des 400. Todestages, (red. Wolfgang Weiss), Würzburg: Diözesangeschichtsverein Würzburg, 2017.
  • Handwerker, Otto, Die Hofbibliothek des Würxburger Fürstbischofs Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn. In: Nordisk tidskrift för bok- och biblioteksväsen, 12(1925), p. 1-42.
  • Julius Echter, Patron der Künste. Konturen eines Fürsten und Bischofs der Renaissance, (red. Damian Dombrowski, Markus Josef Maier & Fabian Müller), Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2017.

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.