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Subject: LCSH

Church libraries, Catholic Church--Germany--History--15th century




Ulrich Pfeffel, a priest, preacher, and avid book collector in the dioceses of Eichstätt and Bamberg in the second half of the fifteenth century, has long been known and celebrated in the local historiography of the diocese of Eichstätt, but has not received any sustained treatment. Thirty-two manuscripts and three printed books once owned by Pfeffel, in all containing well over 200 texts, have survived. The books themselves are of a remarkably even quality, of both moderate size and length. All appear to have their original fifteenth-century binding, usually leather, and three of the bindings can be identified as the work of the bindery in Rebdorf, a community of Augustinian canons near Eichstätt belonging to the Windesheim Congregation. Pfeffel was not shy about proclaiming his ownership and outfitted most of his books with a bold ‘Vlricus Pfeffel’ on the outside of the front cover. The collection is dominated by sermons, biblical commentaries, devotional and moral texts, and pastoral theology. Both modest schoolbooks and vernacular literature are wholly lacking, but Pfeffel’s library has not survived completely intact so we cannot invest gaps in his collection with any intent.


This is the author's accepted version of the article published in Speculum. The final version may be accessed at



Publisher Citation

Matthew Wranovix, "Ulrich Pfeffel's Library: Parish Priests, Preachers, and Books in the Fifteenth Century," Speculum 87.4 (2012), 1125-1155.

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