Kaiser-Heinrich-Bibliothek at Bamberg

The Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (State Library Bamberg) disposes over 165 codices and fragments of manuscripts that originated demonstrably or with considerable probability with Emperor Henry II (d. 1024) and thus it holds the sole imperial library of the early part of the High Middle Ages still preserved in one place.

With the foundation of the Bamberg bishopric by the future Emperor Henry II (973–1024) in the year 1007, precious manuscripts gradually arrived at the Bamberg Dombibliothek (Cathedral Library) and at the monastery of Saint Stephen. These works were donations either sent from existing libraries to Bamberg or commissioned intentionally by Henry II for his newly founded bishopric.

With the secularisation 1802/03, the libraries of the monasteries and convents of the former bishopric became the property of the Bavarian State and were almost completely transferred into the Kurfürstliche Bibliothek (Electoral Library), today's Staatsbibliothek Bamberg.

The library of Henry II survived all the devastations of the past 1,000 years, caused by wars and other catastrophes, almost without damage, so that the holdings of the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg still comprise 165 codices and fragments of manuscripts from the period up to 1024, the year Henry II died. It is thus the only imperial library of the early High Middle Ages worldwide that is still preserved in one place. Two of these manuscripts, the Bamberg Apocalypse (Msc.Bibl.140) and the Commentaries on the Song of Songs and on the Book of Daniel (Msc.Bibl.22), became part of the World Document Heritage of UNESCO in 2004.

The Staatsbibliothek Bamberg owns around 1,000 mediaeval manuscripts. For the digitisation project, those manuscripts were included that can either be traced back demonstrably to Henry II or to a date which makes it probable that they originate with the donation effected by this emperor (d. 1024). Thereby, the selection process was handled with intentional generosity. For example, manuscripts dated to the first half of the eleventh century or to the first third of the eleventh century were accepted into the project, whereas those dated to the second quarter of the eleventh century or to the middle of the eleventh century were excluded.

>> The Kaiser-Heinrich-Bibliothek (Emperor-Henry-Library) is part of the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (State Library Bamberg).