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  • Universitäten im konfessionellen Zeitalter: Gesammelte Beiträge
  • Joseph Freedman
Universitäten im konfessionellen Zeitalter: Gesammelte Beiträge. By Peter Baumgart. [Reformationsgeschichtliche Studien und Texte, Band 149.] (Münster: Aschendorff Verlag. 2006. Pp. x, 519. €65,00 paperback. ISBN 3 402-03817-X.)

This is a valuable collection of sixteen articles published by Peter Baumgart (Professor emeritus, University of Würzburg) over a period of almost four decades. Ten of these articles are devoted to two German universities: the (Lutheran) University of Helmstedt and the (Catholic) University of Würzburg; nine thereof focus on the foundation and early history (during the last quarter of the sixteenth century) of these two universities. Three additional articles discuss: (1) the University of Marburg during the sixteenth century, (2) "Leibniz und Pietismus: Universale Reformbestrebungen um 1700," and (3) the Leopoldina Academy in Breslau during the eighteenth century; the remaining three focus on broader topics pertaining to the history of German and European universities.

Attention is given here to three articles. In "Zur wirtschaftlichen Situation der deutschen Universitätsprofessoren am Ausgang des 16. Jahrhunderts: Das Beispiel Helmstedt," Baumgart discusses the financial status of Helmstedt [End Page 362] University professors at the end of the sixteenth century. The dukes of Braunschweig, who founded and funded that same University, set the salaries of professors. They normally paid new hires poorly so that high salaried professorships could be offered to a few academicians with distinguished reputations. Differences between salaries of individual Helmstedt professors were substantial and apparently larger than at other sixteenth-century German universities.

As was typical,however,professors of theology and jurisprudence generally received the best salaries; professors of medicine received less, while the philosophers were paid the least. Nonetheless, Helmstedt professors generally were better paid than the duke's own administrators. Baumgart concludes this article by making a point that reappears within many articles in this collection: University professors during this period considered themselves as part of an elite. As a consequence, their desire for more autonomy often brought them in conflict with those authorities who controlled university finances.

"Die Anfänge der Universität Würzburg: Eine Hochschulgründung im konfessionnellen Zeitalter" places the foundation of the University of Würzburg (1575) in the context of fourteen additional university foundations in the Holy Roman Empire between 1551 and 1647. Baumgart makes two important points with respect to the these fifteen universities: (1) territorial rulers established Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformation Protestant universities, and used these three confessions to exercise control over them; and (2) the curricula of Protestant universities (e.g., Helmstedt) and Catholic universities (e.g., Würzburg) were basically very similar during this period.

The foundation of a Jesuit collegium and school in Würzburg in 1567 was facilitated by Würzburg Prince-Bishop (Fürstbischof) Julius Echter as an important step toward the establishment of a university. Due to opposition from the Würzburg cathedral chapter and the time needed to secure adequate financing, the University of Würzburg—which received papal and (Holy Roman) imperial privileges in 1575—did not open until 1582 and did not receive statutes until 1587. Julius Echter also limited the authority of Jesuits at the University; both Jesuits and non-Jesuits were accorded professorships there. While Baumgart notes that Jesuits were involved in establishment and/or evolution of almost all of the Catholic universities in the Holy Roman Empire during this period, the nature and history of this involvement differed from university to university.

"Die Universität als europäische Bildungsinstitution" begins with the observation that universities originated in medieval Europe and that their basic structure has remained intact as universities have spread virtually worldwide. Baumgart follows [University of Giessen historian] Peter Moraw in dividing European university history into three general periods: (1) the beginnings to the early nineteenth century, followed by (2) the "classical" period (through the 1960s), and (3) the "postclassical" period (up to the present). [End Page 363]

The first universities were relatively spontaneous establishments that began as associations of teachers/professors and pupils/students. In the High Middle Ages, universities had considerable administrative and financial autonomy as well as the right to grant academic degrees. They also provided an environment...


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