Einblicke in Zürichs Bibliothekswesen und Gelehrtenkultur in der Frühen Neuzeit
Keywords:Libraries, Zurich, Conrad Pellikan, Conrad Gessner, Heinrich Bullinger, Enlightenment Societies
Zurich has repeatedly been described as a city of a particular reading culture. The medieval monastic libraries of the city preserved a great number of precious books. The richness and diversity of this cultural heritage was decimated in 1524/1525, when in the course of the implementation of the Reformation great numbers of Roman catholic books, in particular liturgical texts, were destroyed. After Ulrich Zwingli’s death in 1531, the reformer Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575) and the Franciscan scholar Conrad Pellikan (1478–1556) began to reorganize the Grossmünster library. The book collection of this new library, which was connected to the Latin school at the Grossmünster, contained remnants of the old Zurich monasteries as well as many books from the library of Ulrich Zwingli. Later on, the Grossmünster library served as a base for Conrad Gessner (1516–1565), who published his influential “Bibliotheca universalis” in Zurich in 1545. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, despite the considerable importance of the Grossmünster library for professors and students of the so called “Schola Tigurina”, this book collection did no longer satisfy the intellectual needs of the younger generation of students. Hence, in 1629, four young citizens of Zurich founded the city-library (Stadtbibliothek), located in the “Wasserkirche”, a church on a
small island in the River Limmat. This library grew rapidly. Within these walls the “Collegia”, the first Enlightenment societies in German-speaking Europe, originated in the seventeenth and the early eighteenth-century.