The production of knowledge at the University of Helmstedt: The development of the Philosophical Faculty 1576-1810

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The Helmstedt University buildings in the 17th century with the armorial
shields of the four faculties

For a considerable period in the nearly 250 years of its existence, the University of Helmstedt (Academia Julia) was one of the most highly prominent and popular universities in the Holy Roman Empire. Despite the excellent source material available, the history of this academic institution has only been partially studied and scholars have focussed on the founding phase and the development of the faculties of theology, law and medicine.

This project as a whole is therefore devoted primarily to the history of the faculty of philosophy. Meanwhile all courses and lectures held in all four university faculties, as documented in the printed Latin and German lecture programmes, are registered. In addition, the project brought together all philosophical disputations (dissertations, lectures and programmes) held between 1581 and 1810. Both databases are accessible on the website dedicated to the history of the University of Helmstedt.

Seal of the University of Helmstedt,
showing Samson fighting the lion.
The motto is: "Ex Forti Dulcedo"
(Sweetness [arose] from the strong);
Judges, Chap. 14)

The project has extended its range by several databases documenting the approx. 46.000 visitors of the University of Helmstedt (edition of the university register), the disputations of the three higher ranking faculties as well as the quarterly requested statement of accounts submitted by the professors. These generally include exact daily reports of the scholars' teaching material.

The databases provide the source material for several research projects, an in-depth study of the production of knowledge in the philosophical faculty. These projects are concentrating on developments between 1680 and 1740 as well as between 1740 and 1810, a time in which the arts faculty as it had been formed by late humanism was undergoing transformations caused by the rise of eclecticism, new science and "historia litteraria". At the same time the university was facing strong competition from the Universities of Halle (1694) and Göttingen (1737). The two monographs examine the careers of the teaching staff, the content, methods and institutional organisation of the university's teaching, the faculty's self-image and the specific profile of the knowledge it sought to impart.

This project is part of the HAB’s research focus on the University Helmstedt’s history.
Further projects can be found at:



Funding: Niedersächsisches Vorab (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur)
Duration: since November 2006 and still in progress
Contact: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Gleixner, Dr. Hartmut Beyer
Phone: +49(0)5331-808-246, -372, Fax -277