The Library of the Teutonic Order in Mergentheim

From 1525 to 1809, castle Mergentheim was the residence of the Grand Master and German Master of the order of Teutonic Knights. In the course of Napoleonic mediatisation and secularisation, the Teutonic Order first dispossessed the monasteries in the territory of Mergentheim in 1805, before itself being abolished and having its Mergentheim possessions given to the Kingdom of Württemberg in 1809.

The Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights had compiled a large library that also served the educational purposes of the seminary. It was enlarged through the assimilation of libraries from other seats of the order, for example from Ellingen in Franconia. Books from this provenance bear the distinctive cross of the Teutonic Order as an ownership mark that was burnt into the book edge of even the most valuable volumes. A less spectacular indication of provenance is the red chalk shelfmark on the front book cover. After secularisation, the more precious volumes from the library were brought to the Königliche Handbibliothek in Stuttgart, which later became part of the Württembergische Landesbibliothek. Some doublet copies were offered for sale, for example the copy of Guilelmus Durantis‘ Speculum Iudiciale (Basel 1563) that was sold to the Universitätsbibliothek Greifswald. In the 1970s, the MGH library acquired this volume of Mergentheim provenance. (MGH-Bibliothek 2° Ra 24905 Rara).