Mediaeval and Early Modern Manuscripts from the Provinzialbibliothek Neuburg an der Donau

After the secularisation of 1803, in Neuburg an der Donau was created a Provinzialbibliothek (Provincial Library) in the former building of the Marianische Männerkongregation (Marian Male Cogregation) on Karlsplatz. It was destined to receive the mediaeval manuscripts and early modern prints of the secularised monasteries of the environs which had not been claimed by the Munich Hofbibliothek (Court Library). Larger holdings came for example from the former Jesuit College in Neuburg and from the dissolved Cistercian monastery Kaisheim. From the latter the Provinzialbibliothek also received the historical library pews which may be visited today as part of a guided tour to the library.

To enable the appropriate preservation and professional analysis (up to 1975 the Provinzialbibliothek was managed by Neuburg secondary-school teachers in addition to their day jobs), in 1909 the mediaeval manuscripts were taken to the Hofbibliothek, i.e. to the present Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library), at the orders of the Staatsministerium des Innern für Kirchen- und Schulangelegenheiten (Ministry of the Interior, for religious and educational matters). This group of a so-called "Neuburger Auslieferung" (Neuburg Delivery) comprises 98 Latin and six German manuscripts mostly datable to the Middle Ages.

70 codices came from Kaisheim founded in 1135 and thus one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries on the territory of present Bavaria. They provide a glimpse into the history of the Cistercian order in Germany, of his dissemination and institutionalisation up to its economic decline during the fourteenth century and of the subsequent revival of the Cistercian book culture during the fifteenth century.

The first monks to settle in in Kaisheim brought some books with them from their home institution Lucelle (Lützel) in Alsace. Later manuscripts were created in their own monastic scriptorium and bound in the monastery's bookbindery. Since the Cistercians were against any form of display of splendour, the decoration of their manuscripts usually was limited to the ornamentation of the initials.

Untypical is the early-modern luxury antiphonal (Clm 28150) which the Swiss book illuminator Nikolaus Bertschy furbished around 1530 with artful initials and with borders of stylised foliage (for example with a portrait of Emperor Charles V). The "Neuburger Auslieferung" includes mainly theological works but also writings of natural science, for example by Euclid and Albertus Magnus. Some manuscripts of French and Italian provenance document the international connections of the Bavarian monastery.

>> These collections are part of the holdings of the Staatliche Bibliothek Neuburg an der Donau (State Library Neuburg an der Donau).