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The Sankt-Georg-Hospital in Eberswalde was first mentioned in 1359 and served as a leprosy . The building was surrounded by a plague cemetery . The hospital chapel was probably built in the middle of the 14th century.

Hospital or Spital (since the 4th century from the Latin hospitalis 'hospitable, belonging to the innkeeper' , derived from hospes 'guest friend, innkeeper; guest' ) is a term for nursing homes and old people's homes . Originally, since the 4th century it referred to the mostly Christian-run pilgrim hostels and poor houses , and since the end of the 18th century it has also been used as a place of treatment for sick people in the sense of hospital . In addition, terms such as Seelhaus , Bruderhaus , Prestenhaus , Infirmary , Sondersiechenhaus, Leprosenhaus , Pesthaus or Blatternhaus occur in a similar sense . In some areas of Germany and occasionally in Austria hospital is still used today , but in Austria it is preferred and in Switzerland almost exclusively hospital is used as a synonym for hospital.


The forerunners of the hospitals were the Eastern Roman Xenodochia , which also appeared in Gaul and Italy around the 4th century . These were shaped by Christianity and offered refuge to strangers, guests, pilgrims, those in need, the sick, the poor, the infirm, widows and orphans. The monastic hospitals that developed in the 6th century were based above all on the rule of Benedict of Nursia , which in the Middle Ages offered help to the poor, pilgrims and the sick in addition to episcopal or charitable hospitals. In the year 816 the Aachen Synod decided that every monastery or collegiate foundation should have the establishment of a hospital . Since a decree by Pope Clement V from 1312, the hospitals no longer necessarily had to be church property in the narrower sense of property and power of disposal. As charitable institutions, they continued to have a church character. Everyone could now establish a hospital for the sake of their soul and operate it on their own account, but had to obtain the bishop's permission if he wanted to incorporate a hospital church , chapel , altar or cemetery and to employ a hospital clergyman.

Many hospitals were set up in the form of foundations , the hospital foundations , and run for non-profit purposes. Most remained in the legal form of the foundation. Few were converted to clubs. An example of an early hospital in Germany, which was founded by a family out of their fortune and was also run by the family until the death of the founder, was the hospital of Johann Twente and his wife. It was built in the year 1339 at the gates of the city of Osnabrück and in the middle of the 16th century it was moved to the former Twente property in the old town.

Among the oldest still existing hospitals in Germany are the Hospital for the Holy Spirit in Frankfurt am Main, first mentioned in 1267 , and the Citizens Hospital for the Holy Spirit in Würzburg , founded in 1316 .

The tasks of the hospitals were varied and based on the works of mercy : feeding, receiving and clothing the poor, sheltering the strangers, caring for the elderly and the sick and burying the dead. Communalization, mortgages (that is, inmates bought themselves in with the acquisition of benefices ) and specialization were the trends that dominated urban hospitals from the 14th century. Certain facilities were established as the High Hospital .

In this tradition, the social institutions of the two large churches in Germany, the Protestant Diakonie and the Catholic Caritas as well as their affiliated church sponsors, still run many care, elderly and disabled facilities, such as the Evangelical Home Foundation in Baden-Württemberg with more than 6000 home places and 5500 employees.

According to the definition of the historian Claudia Tiggemann-Klein , health care, benevolence and piety are the three cornerstones of the hospital system. The facilities, for example, are examples of early hospitals that are no longer used as such today

For example, there are hospitals that still serve the care of the elderly and the sick

See also


  • Friedrich Arnd, Fritz Heinrich, Christina Vanja : The hospital at the beginning of modern times. Social reform in Hessen as reflected in European cultural history. Imhof, Petersberg 2004, ISBN 3-86568-001-1 .
  • Lothar Beinke: The Twente family - judges, mayors and hospital founders. Lang, Frankfurt 2010, ISBN 978-3-631-59998-3 .
  • Neithard Bulst , Karl-Heinz Spieß : Social history of medieval hospitals. Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2007, ISBN 978-3-7995-6865-4 .
  • Artur Dirmeier (Ed.): Organized Mercy. Poor care and hospital services in the Middle Ages and early modern times. Pustet, Regensburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-7917-2297-9 .
  • Dieter Jetter: History of the Hospital. 6 volumes. Steiner, Wiesbaden 1966–1987 (Volume 1 = Sudhoff's archive. Quarterly publication for the history of medicine and the natural sciences of pharmacy and mathematics. Supplement 5).
  • Dieter Jetter: The European hospital. From late antiquity to 1800. DuMont, Cologne 1986; 2nd edition ibid 1987, ISBN 978-3-7701-1560-0 .
  • Dieter Jetter: Buildings of charity. In: The scales. Volume 15, No. 3, 1976, and Volume 16, No. 3, 1977.
  • Dieter Jetter: Basics of hospital history . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1973, ISBN 978-3-534-06020-7 .
  • Michael Matheus: Functional and structural change in late medieval hospitals in a European comparison. Steiner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-515-08233-6 .
  • Heinrich Meyer zu Ermgassen: Hospital and Brotherhood. Guest services and poor relief of the Cistercian monastery Eberbach in the Middle Ages and modern times. Historical Commission for Nassau , Wiesbaden 2015, ISBN 978-3-930221-32-5 .
  • Christian Probst : The hospital system in the high and late Middle Ages and the spiritual and social position of the sick. In: Sudhoff's archive. Volume 50, 1966, pp. 246-258.
  • Cay-Rüdiger Prüll, Ulrich Tröhler: Hospital. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte . De Gruyter, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 620 f.
  • Hans-Peter Rhomberg: The Hospital. Healing and care facilities through the ages . Kunstverlag Josef Fink, Lindenberg 2015, ISBN 978-3-89870-898-2
  • Claudia Tiggemann-Klein , Anselm Tiggemann : The St. Marien Hospital in the heart of Cologne. Healthcare, Charity, and Piety. Bachem, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-7616-1862-X .
  • Carlos Watzka: From hospital to hospital. How to deal with the mentally and somatically ill in early modern Europe. Böhlau, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-412-25205-0 .
  • Wolfgang Wüst: Poverty and possessions, piety and care. Hospitals in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times. The Zucht- und Policeyordnung of the Heilig-Geist-Spital in Augsburg from 1764 , in: Zeitschrift des Historisches Verein für Schwaben 108 (2016) pp. 185-234. ISBN 978-3-95786-066-8 .

Web links

Wiktionary: hospital  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Hospital  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Hospital  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Clinic  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Spital  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Marcus Cante: Barnim district. City of Eberswalde (=  Brandenburg State Office for Monument Preservation on behalf of the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg [Hrsg.]: Monument topography Federal Republic of Germany . Monuments in Brandenburg . Volume 5.1). 1st edition. Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, Worms 1997, ISBN 3-88462-136-X , Nordend district. Breite Strasse (formerly Stettiner Strasse). Hospital Chapel St. Georg, S. 146-149 .
  2. Medieval leper houses in today's Brandenburg and Berlin. (No longer available online.) In: Leprosy Museum Münster-Kinderhaus . Society for Leprosy V., archived from the original on October 11, 2016 ; accessed on March 6, 2017 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Nikolaus Bernau : What actually is a hospital? - Deutschlandfunk .de, March 26, 2020
  4. ^ Peter Kolb: The hospital and health system. In: Ulrich Wagner (Hrsg.): History of the city of Würzburg. 4 volumes, Volume I-III / 2 (I: From the beginnings to the outbreak of the Peasant War. 2001, ISBN 3-8062-1465-4 ; II: From the Peasant War 1525 to the transition to the Kingdom of Bavaria 1814. 2004, ISBN 3 -8062-1477-8 ; III / 1–2: From the transition to Bavaria to the 21st century. 2007, ISBN 978-3-8062-1478-9 ), Theiss, Stuttgart 2001–2007, Volume 1, 2001, p 386-409 and 647-653, here: p. 386.