The Leuchte collection

The 32 manuscripts and fragments dating back to the 9th to the 17th century acquired by Berlin-based lawyer and businessman Dr Hans-Jörg Leuchte over a number of decades formed one of the most extensive private collections of German manuscripts from the Middle Ages and early modern period.

Short description

In this collection, the term “manuscript” is used in a broad sense to include handwritten letters and sources of legal history. The municipal registers and chronicles of the Late Middle Ages and the early modern period are the main focal point of this collection. Other aspects of the collection are characterised by the “Revelations” of the Zurich-based Dominican nun Elsbeth von Oye and by a previously unknown 14th century “Weltgerichtsspiel” (Last Judgement play) text. Other notable pieces in the collection include a “processional” from the convent of St Mary Magdalen in Strasbourg post-1489, a “hymn book” from the Dominican Engelthal Monastery circa 1504, a manuscript of the “Alexander Magnus” by Munich-based doctor and businessman Johannes Hartlieb and the translation of a mirror for princes on astronomy/alchemy written by a Swabian nun.

Purchase in 2006

Held as a deposit in the University Library Freiburg’s historic collections since 2003, these manuscripts were transferred to the university’s ownership in 2006 through the purchase made by the state of Baden-Württemberg and the goodwill of the collector. The Leuchte collection is now indexed as a closed stack under shelf mark Hs. 1500 (Hs.1500,1–32) in the University Library’s manuscript holdings and can be accessed by researchers.


The extensive cataloguing and academic description of the manuscripts and manuscript fragments has already begun. Aside from this, the short descriptions published in 2002 already provide a considerable insight into the composition of the Leuchte collection.[1]

All manuscripts in the Leuchte collection have now been completely digitised and are available to academics and researchers online.

List of manuscripts and access to the digital content

Exhibition in 2007

In the 2007 summer semester, the originals in the collection were put on display for the wider public for the first time in an exhibition at the University Library.

The exhibition was organised in association with the “Freiburger Bücher(-Geschichten)” (Freiburg’s (History of) Books) lecture series run by the Medieval Studies Center in the 2007 summer semester to mark the 550th anniversary of the University of Freiburg. It mainly depicted the newly acquired collection in the context of manuscripts and old prints from the University Library’s holdings as a whole, which enabled direct comparisons and insights into certain focal points.

The exhibition at the University Library


[1] Hans-Jochen Schiewer: Die Sammlung Leuchte: Eine Berliner Privatbibliothek mittelalterlicher deutschsprachiger Handschriften. (The Leuchte Collection: a Private Library in Berlin Containing Medieval German Manuscripts.) - In: Die Präsenz des Mittelalters in seinen Handschriften. Ergebnisse der Berliner Tagung in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (The Presence of the Middle Ages in its Manuscripts. Outcomes of the Berlin Conference at the Berlin State Library) - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, 6–8 April 2000. Ed. by Hans-Jochen Schiewer and Karl Stackmann. - Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2002, p. 337–349; table

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