University of Helmstedt

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Academia Julia (Carolina) helmstadiensis
University of Helmstedt
motto Ex Forti Dulcedo
activity October 15, 1576 - 1809/1810
place Helmstedt
country Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
( Holy Roman Empire )
Students At times over 500 (in the 17th century), most recently around 100
Illustration of the Helmstedt university building in the 17th century; Engraving by Matthäus Merian

The University of Helmstedt ( Academia Julia or Academia Julia Carolina or "academia helmstadiensis" ) existed from 1576 to 1810. It emerged from a pedagogy Illustre founded in Gandersheim in 1571 and relocated to Helmstedt on July 6, 1574 .


The Academia Julia was founded by Duke Julius , Prince of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel , in Helmstedt as the first dedicated Protestant university in the northern half of Germany and opened on October 15, 1576 with a solemn service in the St. Stephen's Church . Traditionally, the dukes and princes of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel were rectors . It all started with the founder's twelve-year-old son, who later became Duke Heinrich Julius .

In 1592 the construction of the later main building, the Juleum , began. The reputation of the new university spread through numerous famous personalities, so that at the beginning of 1625 it was the third largest university in the German-speaking area. At this time, an average of around 500 students were accepted annually. In the same year, however, the Thirty Years War and the outbreak of the plague in Helmstedt led to the cessation of teaching until 1626. In November 1625, a third of the population fell victim to the epidemic and 295 town houses were empty.

Due to the dominance of the rigorously Orthodox-Lutheran theological faculty in Helmstedt, the appeal of the Academia Julia began to decline. With the establishment of further universities in northern Germany, e.g. B. the University of Kiel (1665), but especially with the founding of the reform universities in Halle (1692) and above all Göttingen (1734), the University of Helmstedt transformed into a purely provincial university for students in the second half of the 18th century Residents of the Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. A brief increase in the number of enrollments in the wake of the Seven Years' War did nothing to change this. In 1795 only 97 young men were studying in Helmstedt.

In the winter of 1790/1791, a week-long conflict between students at the university and the town's craftsmen led to the student riots at the University of Helmstedt , which, after a serious tumult in February 1791, led to the students moving to the neighboring village of Harbke . After the government of the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and the mediation of Helmstedt's Mayor Georg Fein between the disputing parties, the students returned to the university town on March 2, 1791.

With the fall of the Old Kingdom in 1806/1807, Helmstedt came under the administration of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia under King Jérôme Bonaparte , in which there were other universities in Marburg, Rinteln , Göttingen and Halle. The universities of Rinteln and Helmstedt fell victim to the administrative reform in the Kingdom of Westphalia under Minister Johannes von Müller . The Academia Julia was closed by order of King Jérôme in December 1809 at the end of the winter semester 1809/1810 in May 1810.

Student life

The Helmstedt students were said to have a pronounced inclination to duels . In 1710 Erdmann Uhse included the following verses in his Universal-Geographical-Historical Lexicon :

"Anyone who comes from Wittenberg with a healthy body /
From Leipzig and Tübingen without a wife /
Unbeaten by Jena and Helmstädt /
He can say that he is very fortunate. "

This reputation is probably due to the grave slab of the student Alexander Kock in St. Stephen's Church (Helmstedt) , who died on February 26, 1584 from injuries sustained in a duel. A fatal duel from Julia Carolina's end times serves as the background to Wilhelm Raabe's story Die Alte Universität (1858) about the historically guaranteed meeting of university graduates on May 29, 1822. Raabe also quotes the Latin song of remembrance there:

"Fato cessit Julia, | Silent professores, | Vacant auditoria, | Sola nos memoria | Vocat auditores. "

("Julia succumbed to fate, | the professors are quiet, | the lecture halls are empty, | only memories | calls to us listeners." Melody: Gaudeamus igitur )

Former Helmstedt University Library

The former Helmstedt University Library still has an important book inventory of around 35,000 titles, mainly from the period from 1490 to 1810. Another part of the inventory is in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel .

Faculties of the University of Helmstedt

The university's teaching activities were divided into three job-related faculties : theology , law and medicine as well as the basic philosophy faculty with the seven liberal arts .

As a rule, four professors each taught in the theological, law and medical faculties. Around six to eight university professors were represented in the philosophical one. In the 234 years of its existence, a total of 279 professors have taught in Helmstedt, including 60 theologians, 76 lawyers, 46 medical professionals and 97 philosophers.

Faculty of Theology

Johann Lorenz von Mosheim held a professorship at the University of Helmstedt and was abbot of Mariental and Michaelstein until 1747. He then played a key role in the development of the University of Göttingen, where he became a professor in 1747 and - as the first and only scholar in the history of the University of Göttingen - became Chancellor. With his work in Göttingen he marks the end of the University of Helmstedt.

Medical school

Epilepsy research begins

The professor of medicine and botany Johann Andreas Stisser (1657–1700) began researching epilepsy and developing the first non-plant-based drugs for therapy here, at the same time as his colleague Thomas Sydenham in England and 150 years after Paracelsus .

Botanical Garden

In 1692 Johann Andreas Stisser laid out a herb and medicinal plant garden as " Hortus medicus " at his own expense, as the university lacked funds. This was the beginning of the botanical garden of the University of Helmstedt. Lorenz Heister (1683–1758), who was appointed to Helmstedt in 1719, had the botanical garden, which the university had acquired from the heirs of Johann Andreas Stisser, sold. A new garden was created on a 3000 m² site behind the St. Walpurgis Church . Brandan Meibom was u. a. during his time in Helmstedt, director of the Botanical Garden. The existence of the plants existing at the time is precisely recorded. With the dissolution of the university in 1810, the stock of plants was transferred to the (old) botanical garden of the University of Göttingen .

Law Faculty

Faculty history

The legal scholar Johannes Borcholt was the first full professor of the law faculty of the University of Helmstedt from 1576 to 1593 ; as a former in-house counsel he specialized in civil law issues. With an annual salary, he also remained an advisor to the city of Rostock throughout his life. B. also in 1584 in Güstrow on the inheritance contract of Duke Ulrich von Mecklenburg . As prorector , he exercised the rights of the Hofpfalzgrafenamt in 1577 and 1585/86, which was conferred on the university as an institution. During his time as professor he published a wealth of publications, including a shipping report for the city of Magdeburg, the first beginnings of inland shipping law.

Although the troops billeted in Helmstedt protected the university during the Thirty Years' War, lectures came to a complete standstill in 1625/26 as a result of the plague that wiped out a third of the Helmstedt population. Heinrich Wendt , who was elected secretary of the law faculty in 1630, broke off his studies and left the city like many other students.

Expert opinion in witch trials

The trials in the Holy Roman Empire were based on Charles V's neck court order . Compared to medieval legal practice, this represented a step forward, since the use of torture was strictly regulated and no divine judgments were made. Evidence of guilt was only given if the defendant made a confession, which had to be repeated without torture. However, the court order of the Catholic Charles V was not fully adopted in Protestant countries. The court order stipulated that witchcraft should be punished with a fine for the actual damage. In Protestant regions this rule was tightened because witchcraft represents a covenant with the devil and is therefore always worthy of death.

In its beginnings, the law faculty of the University of Helmstedt had this task. The University of Rinteln , the University of Rostock (“Alma Mater Rostochiensis”) and the University of Wittenberg (“Leucorea”) were leading expert universities during the witch trials. The ruling practice at the general German law faculties was quite different. The law faculties of the Universities of Helmstedt and Rinteln were considered hardliners when it came to the persecution of witches.

At the request of the administrations, the Faculty of Law provided a large number of reports. The procedure and the reports of the University of Helmstedt in the proceedings against Catharina Ranzebach, also called the "Martensche", which were carried out in the Brunswick office of Schöningen in 1656, are very clear.



  • “The Athens of the Welfs - The Reform University Helmstedt 1576–1810”, special exhibition in the Bibliotheca Augusta , Wolfenbüttel, from February 7th to August 29th, 2010.


  • Academia Julia. The University of Helmstedt (1576–1810). Exhibition of the district for EXPO 2000. 2 volumes. Helmstedt 2000.
  • Academia Julia, University of Helmstedt - tradition, future. District of Helmstedt, Helmstedt 2002 (contributions to the history of the district and the former University of Helmstedt, 15).
  • Sabine Ahrens: The teachers of the University of Helmstedt (1576-1810). District of Helmstedt, Helmstedt 2004 (publications of the district lakes Helmstedt, 7), ISBN 3-937733-70-1 .
  • Uwe Alschner: University visit in Helmstedt 1576-1810. Model of a matriculation analysis using the example of a north German university. Braunschweigischer Geschichtsverein, Wolfenbüttel 1998 (Supplements to the Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch, 15), ISBN 3-928009-14-1 .
  • Peter Baumgart and Ernst Pitz : The statutes of the University of Helmstedt. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1963 (Publications of the Lower Saxony Archive Administration, 15), ISBN 3-525-35067-8
  • Gerd Biegel : "This professor is completely useless for the university". The Braunschweigische Landesuniversität Helmstedt in the report of the “university traveler” Friedrich Gedike from the year 1789 (= Braunschweig Museum Lectures , Volume 4), Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, Braunschweig 2002, ISBN 3-927939-61-7 .
  • Jens Bruning and Ulrike Gleixner : The Athens of the Welfs - The Reform University Helmstedt 1576–1810 (= exhibition catalogs of the Herzog August Library , no. 92), Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-447-06210-7 .
  • Hans Haase: The University of Helmstedt 1576-1810. Pictures from their history , selected and explained by Hans Haase, photos by Günter Schöne. Jacobi, Bremen / Wolfenbüttel 1976, ISBN 3-87447-052-0 .
  • Ingrid Henze: The chair for poetry at the University of Helmstedt until Heinrich Meibom's death . Elder († 1625) : an investigation into the reception of ancient poetry in late Lutheran humanism , Olms-Weidmann, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York, NY 1990, ISBN 3-487-09329-4 (dissertation University of Göttingen 1990, 228 pages).
  • Hermann Hofmeister: The founding of the University of Helmstedt… . Hofbuchdruckerei Gebrüder Jänecke, Helmstedt 1904.
  • Alberto Jori , Hermann Conring (1606–1681): The founder of German legal history , with a greeting from Kristian Kühl, Tübingen, 2006 ISBN 3-935625-59-6 .
  • Claudia Kauertz: Science and belief in witches, the discussion of magic and witchcraft at the University of Helmstedt (1576-1626), (= witch research , volume 6), publishing house for regional history, Bielefeld 2001, ISBN 978-3-89534-353-7 ( Dissertation University of Göttingen 1998, 297 pages).
  • Wiebke Kloth: The University of Helmstedt and its importance for the city of Helmstedt. District of Helmstedt, Helmstedt 2003 (contributions to the history of the district and the former University of Helmstedt, 16).
  • Friedrich Koldewey: The history of classical philology at the University of Helmstedt. Friedrich Vieweg & Son, Braunschweig, 1895
  • Joachim Lehrmann : Faith in witches and demons in the state of Braunschweig . Lehrmann, Lehrte 2009, ISBN 978-3-9803642-8-7 (Chapter: On the role of the Welfen University in Helmstedt , pp. 235-273)
  • Hans-Ehrhard Müller: Helmstedt - the history of a German city. 2nd edition Helmstedt 2004, pp. 360-433.
  • NN: Late humanism and land renewal. The founding epoch of the University of Helmstedt 1576–1613 , special exhibition of the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum für Geschichte und Volkstum from September 4 to November 28, 1976 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the Helmstedt University on October 15, 1976, In: Publications of the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum , No. . 9, Braunschweig 1976.
  • Hans Ramdohr: A forgotten city of the muses [University of Helmstedt]. Deutsche Corpszeitung, 42nd year, Frankfurt am Main, October 1925, No. 7, pp. 217–220.
  • Alois Schikora: The ruling practice at the law faculty in Helmstedt. Hansen-Schmidt Verlagsgesellschaft 1973, ISBN 3-7881-1811-3 .

Web links

Commons : University of Helmstedt  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. "Sweetness [proceeded] from the strong"; ( Ri 14,14  LUT ). The coat of arms of the seal shows the biblical fight between Samson and a lion.
  2. D. Schäfer, The Pedagogy Illustre zu Gandersheim up to its relocation to Helmstedt, in: Jahrb. D. Ges. F. Lower. Church history 64 (1966), p. 107 ff.
  3. ^ P. Baumgart: David Chytraeus and the foundation of the University of Helmstedt . In: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch 42 (1961), pp. 35–37.
  4. ^ Wilhelm Havemann : History of the Lande Braunschweig and Lüneburg , Volume 3, Verlag der Dieterichschen Buchhandlung, Göttingen 1857, p. 36.
  5. ^ Friedrich August Ludewig: History and description of the city of Helmstedt . Fleckeisensche Buchhandlung, Helmstedt 1821.
  6. ^ Wilhelm Havemann : History of the Lands Braunschweig and Lüneburg . Volume 3, Verlag der Dieterichschen Buchhandlung, Göttingen 1857, p. 75.
  7. ^ Georg Objartel: Language and way of life of German students in the 18th and 19th centuries . de Gruyter, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-045399-7 , p. 29 .
  8. U. Alschner: University visit in Helmstedt 1576-1810 . Wolfenbüttel 1998.
  9. cf. Max von Waldberg:  Uhse, Erdmann . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 39, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1895, p. 449 f.
  10. Article Wittenberg in: Erdmann Uhse: Universal-geographical-historical Lexicon. 1710, p. 543 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  11. ^ F. Hermann Meyer: Studentica. Life and manners of German students in earlier centuries Hermann Hartung, 1857, p. 6 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  12. ^ City of Helmstedt, St. Stephani, grave plate of Alexander Kock: German inscriptions online. In: Retrieved January 17, 2015 .
  13. Friedrich Karl von Strombeck : Celebration of the memory of the previous Julia Carolina University of Helmstedt, held in May 1822 . Helmstedt 1822.
  14. ^ Wilhelm Raabe: Confused Life. Flemming, 1862, p. 21 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  15. ^ Carl von Heister: News about Gottfried Christoph Beireis, Professor zu Helmstedt from 1759 to 1809 . Nicolai, Berlin 1860, p. 60
  16. Lorenz Heister: Index plantarum rariorum atque officinalium, quas in hortum helmstadiensem intulit. 8th edition, Helmstedt 1730-1733.
  17. JS Leinker: Horti medici helmstadiensis praestantiam ex plantis rarioribus ibidem florentibus exhibet. 4th edition, Helmstedt 1746.
  18. Botanical Garden of the University of Helmstedt Publications d. Helmholtz Center for Cultural Technology
  19. The Wittenberg Scholars' Register: the register of Abraham Ulrich (1549–1577) and David Ulrich (1580–1623) / ed. from the German Historical Museum Berlin. Arranged by Wolfgang Klose. With co-workers: Wolfgang Harms… - Halle: Mitteldt. Verl., 1999, ISBN 3-932776-76-3 , p. 65 with additional information
  20. Handbook of the historical book holdings in Germany, Austria and Europe (Fabian Handbook): Former University Library (Helmstedt). In: Retrieved January 17, 2015 . Digitized by Günter Kükenshöner. Edited by Bernhard Fabian. Hildesheim: Olms Neue Medien 2003. Inventory history 1.5
  21. Joachim Woock, Verden history workshop, "... so they suspect stimulated vice ...", The last persecutions of witches in the Swedish duchies of Bremen and Verden, with reference to Schormann, Gerhard: From the early days of the Rintelner Juristenfakultät, Bückeburg 1977.
  22. ^ Gerhard Schormann: Witch Trials in Northwest Germany. 1977, p. 25 ISBN 978-3-8269-3487-2 DNB 780058895
  23. ^ Claudia Kauertz: Science and witch belief. The University of Helmstedt 1576–1626, 2001. ISBN 978-3-89534-353-7 .
  24. Erich Heyser: witch trial against Catharina Ranzebach, named after her husband's name Martens the Martensche. Treated in the office Schöningen (Braunschweig) 1656. In: Journal for the entire criminal law science. 1905. 25, pp. 559-584.
  25. Wilhelm Gottlieb Soldan, Heinrich Heppe, Max Bauer (edit.): History of the witch trials Reprint of the 3rd (last) edition in the revision by Max Bauer, 1999 ISBN 3-88059-960-2 , page 44.
  26. ^ Website of the Herzog August Library Wolfenbüttel , accessed on December 14, 2012.

Coordinates: 52 ° 13 ′ 45.4 ″  N , 11 ° 0 ′ 31.2 ″  E