On the Order of the Books in the First Uppsala University Library Building

In: Journal of Jesuit Studies
Peter Sjökvist Uppsala University Library,

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Uppsala University Library received several literary spoils of war that had been taken by Swedish armies from Jesuit colleges and other Catholic institutions in the seventeenth century. This article argues that the first university library building in Uppsala, which was built in two floors, kept good and useful literature on the upper floor, where the books were arranged according to faculties, and literature of less use on the lower, where the books were arranged according to a system similar to those in Jesuit libraries. In Lutheran Uppsala, most Catholic literature was therefore located in the lower library. In previous research on this library, its structure has not been fully acknowledged. Hence, several misleading conclusions have been drawn.

Because of Sweden’s involvement in so many wars on the continent during the seventeenth century, Uppsala University Library today holds several collections originating in other parts of Europe. 1 Swedish armies took important libraries as spoils of war on repeated occasions, and they were even encouraged to do so in order to improve the libraries of their native country. 2 Collections were deliberately taken from Catholic strongholds, with the explicit aim of weakening the intellectual armory of the Catholic Church. It started in 1621, the same year as when Uppsala University Library was formally founded, when the Swedes confiscated the library of the Jesuit college of Riga and eventually moved it to Uppsala. In 1626, however, in the second war between Sweden and Poland, the Jesuit College Library of Braniewo (Braunsberg), and the chapter library of Frombork (Frauenburg), were taken as booty and soon brought to Uppsala. Swedish Catholic students had frequently visited the Jesuit college of Braniewo as a part of the Counter-Reformation, so this was undoubtedly an important strike. When Charles X Gustavus (r.1654–60) attacked Poland in the middle of the 1650s, vast collections were taken as booty from different religious institutions in Poznań, primarily from the Jesuit college, but also from the monasteries of the Dominicans and the Bernardines, among others. Many books from Poznań eventually ended up at Uppsala University Library with the private library of the Swedish nobleman Clas Rålamb (1622–98) in 1693. Interestingly, we have some original catalogues among the spoils too. A library catalogue of 1570 from Braniewo, as well as two catalogues of 1609 and 1610 from Poznań are still extant at Uppsala. 3 These are not only important tools in the reconstruction of the libraries from these places today, 4 but also for the understanding of the arrangement of the actual library at Uppsala during its first century.

In this article, the intention is to discuss the impact of these Jesuit college catalogues on the first shelving and classification systems of Uppsala University Library during the seventeenth century, thus using, continuing and partly disagreeing with what Gert Hornwall, a previous head of this library, claimed in an article from 1969. 5 Thereafter, I will reflect upon the treatment of the collections in Uppsala at the time from a more general perspective. The seventeenth century is a time of fierce religious antagonism in Europe, and it did not take place only on the battlefield, but also in academies, in church pulpits, and in propaganda, from all parties in the conflict. In the Latin literature of Sweden at the time, for instance, a common theme was to describe the pope as Antichrist, and the Catholic Church as the Babylonian Harlot. 6 Against that background, it is a truism that large collections on Catholic theology and canon law can neither have been very useful nor suitable for students and professors in a country strongly dominated by the Lutheran confession, at an institution that largely aimed at educating clergymen and servants loyal to the state. 7 So, what happened when these libraries from the Jesuit order arrived at Uppsala?

At the start in the 1620s the library in Uppsala did not have an own building. 8 The books were kept in one of the chapels of the cathedral. In 1622, the reparation of a building nearby was started for the library, but it was not finished until 1627, when the books accordingly moved there. 9 It consisted of six rooms with two floors in split levels, with separate entrances for the two floors.

Figure 7.1
Figure 7.1

The first university library building in Uppsala (UUB U 65)

Citation: Journal of Jesuit Studies 6, 2 (2019) ; 10.1163/22141332-00602007

Photo: Uppsala University Library

Especially the bottom floor, the basement or the lower library, suffered severely from moisture, while on the upper the roof was leaking repeatedly. This poor and too small library building would be a constantly recurring theme for complaints in the university council until the collections moved in 1691. 10 When the spoils from Braniewo arrived at Uppsala in 1627, after having been registered rather quickly at Stockholm castle by Johannes Bureus (1568–1652), they were first temporarily located in small sheds close to the river, and then placed in the lower library. Bureus visited Uppsala and started arranging the books there together with Olof Laurelius (1585–1670) in November the same year, but after only some months he was occupied with other matters. 11 In 1628, the king himself ordered that a catalogue should be made of the entire collections at Uppsala, but nothing actually happened until ten years later, for the simple reason that there was no permanent librarian. As the library’s most important historiographer, Claes Annerstedt, claims, the collections were not much used during this period, and the lower library was more a storage room than a library, where the books had only been piled in. 12

In 1638, a permanent librarian, Laurentius Tolfstadius (d.1650), was thus appointed, with no other duties than the library. At that time, the work with a catalogue was also started, a catalogue that would then also cover the books that had been taken as war booty in 1631 from the Furstbischof of Würtzburg, Julius Echter (1545–1617), one of the most important characters of the German Counter-Reformation, which had arrived at Uppsala in 1636. 13 The two first catalogues, one for the bibliotheca superior and one for the bibliotheca inferior, are still extant, and they are in reality shelf lists. 14 The collections had been registered shelf by shelf, as they were located, systematically and according to format. The registers were finished in 1641, but they were soon continued in a third part covering the period until 1648. 15

If we look at the two first catalogues more closely, we see details of great interest from a confessional perspective. As Hornwall asserted in 1969, the Uppsala library as a basis used the most common shelving system at European university libraries at the time, which was to arrange the collections according to faculties. At Uppsala, however, there was a much more detailed classification in the section of theology, and while the divisions in the other three faculties rather well follow the different chairs of the professors, this is not the case in theology. 16 What Hornwall for some strange reason did not notice, was that this more detailed classification in theology only took place in the lower library. Books on theology in the upper also followed the four professorial chairs, which were concerned with the New Testament, the Old Testament, the prophets, and dogmatic and polemics. Under the heading theologi on the upper floor, all Lutheran literature at the library is located, together with several titles of Catholic theologians, such as Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) and Jacob Gretser (1562–1625). Hornwall accordingly asks himself why these Catholic authors are not to be found in the lower library, in the sections for systematic theology, and surprised states that the university did not hesitate to have both Catholic and Lutheran literature mixed under the same heading. 17 In this case, the reason must be the chair dealing with dogmatic and polemics. This professor needed the works of the most important antagonists too. The polemical usage of Bellarmine can, for instance, thereafter be attested in the 1630s in a series of dissertations defended under the presidency of the Upsalian professor of theology Laurentius Olai Wallius (1588–1638). 18

As Hornwall noticed as well, the more detailed classification in theology, which thus can only be discerned in the lower library, has obvious similarities with the Jesuit library classification that was practiced at the time. The collections from Braniewo were taken here and located in the lower library in 1627. Hornwall stresses, however, that the classification of theology had been updated and had developed in comparison to the Braniewo catalogue that was part of the spoils, which had been finished in 1570 and updated in 1605, and is actually more similar to the catalogue from Poznań in 1609. That can, for instance, be seen in the heading for Bible commentaries, which has received a more eminent position in relation to the Scholastics. 19 The Poznań books and the catalogues did not arrive at Uppsala university library until 1693, so these cannot have influenced the shelving of the collections in Uppsala directly. The development of classification and shelving according to newer Jesuit principles must thus have taken place between 1605, when the Braniewo catalogue was updated, and 1641 when the Uppsala catalogue was finished. As Hornwall states, the library in 1627 was to a great extent taken care of by the professor of theology Johannes Lenaeus (1573–1669). He therefore thinks that it is plausible that the shelving system at Uppsala had been elaborated by Lenaeus, in collaboration with Bureus, who registered the books at Stockholm castle, and who was well informed on how the north European Jesuit libraries were classified. 20

Personally, I think this is highly unlikely. The more detailed classification and shelving of the collection according to Jesuit principles had probably developed already at Braniewo, by their own librarians, with consequences for the location of the books on the shelves, but the catalogue had not been arranged or updated accordingly. The last update was in 1605, and the books were taken in 1627. Also, in Uppsala it was regularly the case that the catalogue did not follow the changes and improvements of the shelving system, and that it needed updates. 21 A striking pattern in the Braniewo catalogue is furthermore the amount of books under each heading. The first contains most books, the second some fewer, the third even fewer, etc. 22 This could in fact indicate that the catalogue did not aim at a correspondence with the shelving at all. In contrast to Hornwall, I therefore prefer to assume that the Swedes have packed and unpacked the books as they stood on the shelves, more or less in the same order and hence according to the same shelving system as in Braniewo, which was thus another than what could be found in the catalogue. A notable circumstance is that Bureus, when he registers the Braniewo collections at Stockholm castle—his lists are also extant at Uppsala University Library 23 —not only adds headings to the registers, but also says in which chest the books are staying. In chest A, we find the Bibles; in chest B, Bible commentaries; in chest C, sermons, etc. The books had thus been put in the chests according to subject. 24 And already here we see that Bibles come first, followed by Bible commentaries. This may seem to be a minor remark, but I do not think it is. There is a great difference in effort between taking down books as they stood on the shelves in Braniewo, packing them, and placing them in a similar order in Uppsala, and developing and expanding the classification system in Uppsala according to Jesuit principles. The first effort is the simplest possible, the other would be quite advanced, and in addition quite strained. Why would a Protestant university library spend time on finding out and using a developed classification system made by their main enemies?

The question of the classification effort when the Braniewo books arrived at Uppsala is connected to another circumstance that has been hinted several times in previous research, but not stressed enough, and now even blurred. The lower library, bibliotheca inferior, was not only inferior in a literal sense, it was considered to hold the bad or less useful literature. The upper library contained the relevant, good and useful books, regardless of origin, age or material, printed or in manuscript. We find incunables and manuscripts among recently published books. The lower library held the books of less or no use; it was still rather much to be considered as a storage room. 25 Arguments supporting this claim are several; we find them in the discussions in the university council, in other documents, in views concerning good and bad literature, and by contrasting these to the library catalogues at Uppsala.

For it is self-evident that a Lutheran university that is poor in books, but which receives big collections from Catholic libraries, does not really have its problem solved. Complaints were therefore raised in the council, at the end of the 1630s, that the library lacked many central Lutheran authors. Gustavus ii Adophus (r.1611–32) in the 1620s had decided that only a small sum should be used for acquisitions to the library, but this did not suffice. 26 In 1646, it is furthermore stated in the council that only orthodoxorum theologorum scripta should be bought to the library. It should not be allowed to buy papist and Calvinist books. Axel Oxenstierna (1583–1654), the chancellor of the realm, one year later on a visit in the university council stated the role of the library at the university: Bibliotheca non est propter usum communem pauperum studiosorum, sed propter asservationem bonorum authorum (the library is not meant for the common usage of poor students, but for the preservation of good authors). 27 In 1666, the lower library was discussed again in the council, since it was allegedly so full of mold and dirt that the titles of the books could not be discerned. 28 So, the building in fact destroyed books, but some were also destroyed on purpose by the university, causing considerable losses for the collections. According to Annerstedt more than four hundred manuscripts were lost from the lower library between 1641 and 1691, for instance. Bookbinders reused the parchment and paper of old useless Catholic manuscripts, and so did the organ builder at Uppsala. 29 When the university council in 1681 wrote to its chancellor Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie (1622–86), they stated that the library building damaged the books, and that the collections were now in fact an indigestum chaos (chaos without order). They also suggested that many of the books in the older and lower (gambla och understa) library should be sold, when a few useful books had been selected and moved to the upper library. In the lower, were mostly old Catholic books that were of no use. If no one bought them complete, they could be sold as simple paper and parchment. The money should be used for a new library building and for new useful books. The chancellor agreed to some extent but recommended that the professors should be very careful. That much was lost in the earlier mentioned ways can, however, be easily proven. 30 When Johan Eenberg (d.1709), who was an assistant at the library in the 1690s, described the library in his relation of the most important things to see in Uppsala in 1703, he simply said that the most important books were on the upper floor, and the worse on the lower, and that it had been like this since Gustavus ii Adolphus started the library in 1621. 31 When accounting for this work in the library, he likewise described the lower as the very old one (urgambla), and the upper as the better. 32 So, while glorious literary war booty was coming to Uppsala to a considerable degree, this was received in a horrible building where the books were actually moldering. This circumstance is very strange, Margareta Hornwall stated. 33 But the description is not entirely true, since the useful literature taken as booty was selected and moved to the upper floor. In Braniewo, they held several copies of Bible commentaries by Martin Luther (1483–1546), Philip Melanchthon (1497–1560), and David Chytraeus (1530–1600), for instance, which were also registered under the heading “commentaries” in Bureus’s lists from Stockholm castle. 34 We find them under theologi in the catalogue of the upper building, following the faculty classification. 35 The booty also contained scientific books and many classical authors, which were surely useful. The less useful literature, for instance Bible commentaries in Bureus’s register by such theologians as the Jesuit Benedict Pereira (1538–1610), the Franciscan Frans Titelmans (1502–37), and the Jesuit Francisco Ribera (1537–91), stayed in the lower library, regardless of origin, age, and material. 36 Another example is the copy of Melanchthon’s loci communes printed in Wittenberg in 1563, which Bureus had located under the heading Catecheses, loci com[munes], confessiones, summae, examina, and which could be found in chest D1. 37 We find it under theologi in the upper library. 38 Under the same heading and in the same chest the loci communes by the Augustinian friar Johann Hofmeister (1509–47) had been placed, according to Bureus. 39 In Tolfstadius’s catalogue, we find two copies of it in the lower library, under the heading Locorum Communium & Cathec. Lib. 40 Considering the view on everything that was not Lutheran at the time, many of the books from the Jesuit colleges of course ended up in the lower library, but so did books from Swedish Catholic medieval monasteries as well. 41 In the catalogue made between 1641 and 1648, we also find a section containing books that had been moved from the upper to the lower library, containing a good portion of Catholic authors, but also Calvinist ones. 42 Gert Hornwall had furthermore stressed that the very concept of loci communes was used according to Catholic dogmatic construction in the systematic shelving at Protestant Uppsala, and regarded this as a paradox. 43 There is no paradox, however, if we realize that this happened in the lower library, where the bad authors were located. It is a sign of neglect rather than of effort. There is a development in the classification of books on theology, in contrast to the profane literature, in the later catalogues from the seventeenth century at Uppsala. 44 This development, however, only concerns theology in the upper library, and the limited number of books that had been brought there from the lower library. Among the changes in the upper library, we find a strict classification according to confession in the catalogue 1675. Hornwall then assumes that the library had been separated into a better and a worse part in the 1680s and onwards. 45 I claim that this way of thinking can be discerned already in Tolfstadius’s catalogue of 1641, in discussions in the university council during the century and in other testimonies of the time. This has a great explanatory value when trying to understand the arrangement of the university library and its literary spoils in Uppsala during the seventeenth century.

The overarching principle for classification, shelving and treatment at Uppsala University Library during the seventeenth century was if the books were good and useful or not, with the useful in the upper and the less useful in the lower library. That most Catholic literature by default belonged to the latter category should not come as a surprise in Lutheran Uppsala. In fact, this simple principle removes the question marks that are left from some previous research on this library. In the catalogues from Braniewo and Poznań, finally, we meet classifications of knowledge that are admittedly related to the shelving in the lower library, as has been claimed in previous research. But since the lower was the place for the less useful literature, that circumstance in practice does not mean very much.


A version of this article was presented at the conference Renaissance Libraries and the Organisation of Information, held by the Nordic Network for Renaissance Studies, Helsinki, ­September 26–28, 2018.


Otto Walde, Storhetstidens litterära krigsbyten, vol. 1 (Uppsala: Almkvist & Wiksell, 1916), 344–46. The magistral book in two volumes by Walde, Storhetstidens litterära krigsbyten (Uppsala: Almkvist & Wiksell, 1916–20) is inevitable and fundamental when dealing with literary spoils in Sweden. Riga, Braniewo, Frombork, and Poznań are all treated there. Regarding the laws of war at the time, according to which the taking of cultural spoils was allowed under certain correct circumstances, see Ulf Göranson, “Kulturarvskrigsbyten och den rättsliga utveckling­en från Grotius,” in Bevara för framtiden: Texter från en seminarieserie om specialsamlingar, ed. Peter Sjökvist (Uppsala: Uppsala universitetsbibliotek, 2016), 73–82. For a recent discussion on the question of restitution, see Lars Munkhammar, “Dessa eviga krav på återställande,” in Bevara för framtiden: Texter från en seminarieserie om specialsamlingar, ed. Peter Sjökvist (Uppsala: Uppsala universitetsbibliotek, 2016), 83–94.


Uppsala University Library [hereafter uub] U 274 (Braniewo), U 275 and 276 (Poznań).


The collections from Riga, Braniewo, and Poznań have been or are the subjects of recent projects at Uppsala University Library, in collaboration with librarians from Latvia and Poland. A catalogue of the Braniewo collection was published in 2007; see Józef Trypućko, The Catalogue of the Book Collection of the Jesuit College in Braniewo Held in the University Library in Uppsala = Katalog księgozbioru Kolegium Jezuitów w Braniewie zachowanego w Bibliotece

Uniwersyteckiej w Uppsali, 3 vols., ed. Michał Spandowski and Sławomir Szyller (Uppsala/Warsaw: Uppsala universitetsbibliotek/Biblioteka Narodowa, 2007). Modern catalogues of the Riga and Poznań collections are being created presently. As regards the Polish collections in Uppsala, see also Peter Sjökvist, “Polish Collections at Uppsala University Library: A History of Research,” in Książka dawna i jej właściciele: Tom drugi, ed. Dorota Sidorowicz-Mulak and Agnieszka Franczyk Cegła (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Ossolineum, 2017), 237–44. For information on the Poznań project, see Peter Sjökvist, “Books from Poznań at the Uppsala University Library,” in Z badań nad książką i księgozbiorami historycznymi: Polonika w zbiorach obcych, ed. Jack Puchalski, Agnieszka Chamera-Nowak, and Dorota Pietrzkiewicz (Warsaw: Polskie Bractwo Kawalerów Gutenberga, 2017), 319–27.


Gert Hornwall, “Uppsala universitetsbiblioteks äldsta uppställnings- och klassifikationssystem,” in Nordisk tidskrift för bok- och biblioteksväsen 56 (1969): 183–202.


Hans Helander, Neo-Latin Literature in Sweden in the Period 1620–1720: Stylistics, Vocabulary and Characteristic Ideas (Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2004), 321–36.


Cf. Margareta Hornwall, “Uppsala universitetsbiblioteks resurser och service under 1600-talet,” Nordisk tidskrift för bok- och biblioteksväsen 68 (1981): 65–78, here 68.


The relation follows Claes Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia intill år 1702 (Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 1894), 8–9.


For a treatment of the first university library building in Uppsala, see Ernst E. Areen, Uppsala universitetsbiblioteks byggnadshistoria, vol. 1: 1620–1809 (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1925).


See Margarete Andersson-Schmitt, “Biblioteksdebatten i akademiska konsistoriet 1627–1694,” in Uppsala University 500 years, vol. 12: I universitets tjänst: Studier rörande Uppsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, ed. Gert Hornwall (Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 1977), 19–30, here 20; Anders Celsius, Uppsala universitetsbiblioteks historia (Uppsala: Uppsala universitetsbibliotek, 1971 [1745]), 96–97. Cf. Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 26–29.


He started on November 23, 1626 and presented the work to the King on February 28, 1627. During this period Bureus was occupied with several other undertakings, and his wife was also suddenly sick, passed away and was buried. Gustav Edvard Klemming, “Anteckningar af och om Buréus,” in Samlaren 4 (1883): 71–126, here 102–4 and 107.


Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 11–12.


For an account of the booty of Würtzburg, see Walde, Storhetstidens litterära krigsbyten, 1:107–37. The books still extant at Uppsala have been listed in Pius Wittmann, Würtzburger Bücher in der K. Schwedischen Universitetsbibliothek zu Upsala (Würtzburg: Stürtz, 1891).


uub, bibl. arkiv K 2 and K 3.


uub, bibl. arkiv K 4.


Hornwall, “Uppställnings- och klassifikationssystem,” 185–86. Supports of this evident assumption is the heading Libri variarum facultatum in the catalogue K 4 that was completed in 1648 (uub, Bibl. Arkiv, K 4, fol. 65), as well as Johan Eenberg’s (d.1709) relation of the work in the library, as reproduced by Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 111.


Hornwall, “Uppställnings- och klassifikationssystem,” 187.


See e.g. Laurentius Olai Wallius (pr.), Petrus Petri Ludgovius (resp.), Disputatio prima, Roberti Bellarmini libro 1 de verbo Dei, opposita … (Uppsala 1635); Laurentius Olai Wallius (pr.), Jonas Petri Alsnaeus (resp.), Disputatio secunda, Roberti Bellarmini libro 2 de verbo Dei, opposita … (Uppsala 1635); and Laurentius Olai Wallius (pr.), Petrus Petri (resp.), Disputatio tertia, Roberti Bellarmini libro 3 de verbo Dei, opposita … (Uppsala, 1636).


Hornwall, “Uppställnings- och klassifikationssystem,” 190.


Hornwall, “Uppställnings- och klassifikationssystem,” 192–93.


Cf. Walde, Storhetstidens litterära krigsbyten, 1:94; Andersson-Schmitt, “Biblioteksdebatten,” 27.


Cf. Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 10.


uub U 272 and U 273.


Cf. Emma Hagström Molin, Krigsbytets biografi: Byten i Riksarkivet: Uppsala universitetsbibliotek och Skokloster slott under 1600-talet (Stockholm: Makadam, 2015), 128.


Cf. Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 48; M. Hornwall, “Resurser och service under 1600-talet,” 66. When the Florentine diplomat Lorenzo Magalotti (1637–1712) saw the library in 1674 and thought it was a modest one with only three rooms, that must therefore mean that he had only been shown the "real" library on the upper floor. Lorenzo Magalotti, Sverige under år 1674 (Stockholm: Rediviva, 1986 [1912]), 67.


Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 17–18. During the years 1641–49, for instance, the library only bought 141 books.


Andersson-Schmitt, “Biblioteksdebatten,” 20–21.


Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 24; Andersson-Schmitt, “Biblioteksdebatten,” 24.


Cf. Andersson-Schmitt, “Biblioteksdebatten,” 26; Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 29–31.


Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 32–37. Andersson-Schmitt, “Biblioteksdebatten,” 25. Cf. Hagström Molin who stressed the aspect of temporality between the upper and the lower libraries in particular. Hagström Molin, Krigsbytets biografi, 155.


Johan Eenberg, Kort berättelse af de märkwärdigste saker som för de främmande äre at besee och förnimma uti Upsala stad … (Uppsala: Werner, 1703–4), 56.


Following Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 111. In the new library, where the books moved in 1691, the upper and better library corresponded to the south part, and the lower to the north. This arrangement was, however, broken on the orders of Elias Obrecht (1653–98) at the end of the 1690s. Annerstedt, Upsala universitetsbiblioteks historia, 113–16.


Hornwall, “Resurser och service under 1600-talet,” 67.


uub U 273, 5–7.


uub Bibl. arkiv K 3, 37–47.


uub Bibl. Arkiv K 2, 14–16.


uub U 273, 13.


uub Bibl. arkiv, K 3, 45.


uub U 273, 14.


uub Bibl. arkiv, K 2, 28.


Hagström Molin, Krigsbytets biografi, 147–48.


uub Bibl. Arkiv K 4 fols. 193–99.


Hornwall, “Uppställnings- och klassifikationssystem,” 191–92.


uub Bibl. arkiv, K 5 och K 6


Hornwall, “Uppställnings- och klassifikationssystem,” 200–1.

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