About the Portal

The Swedish war booty of books from the Thirty Years’ War is a rewarding theme in Czech cultural history, earning the interest of a number of domestic researchers. However, there is no complex mapping of the books, especially the surviving artefacts, even though the total number of books taken from Mikulov, Olomouc, and Prague by Swedish troops in 1646 and 1648 is estimated at more than 25,000. Moreover, the confiscated libraries were often among the most significant collections of books in the Czech lands at the time and they had their effect on the development of book culture in Sweden. Heretofore research suggests that something between 10%-15% of the books looted from the Czech lands have survived to this day, but this still – together with the surviving original catalogues of these libraries – presents a significant source of information about Czech book culture before the Battle of White Mountain.

The challenges presented in the identification and research of the surviving books from the Swedish booty together with accessing previously-unavailable sources of information were taken up by the Library of the Czech Academy of Sciences, where research focusing on the individual libraries has been undertaken since 2002 (the monograph : Knihy na dvoře Rožmberků (Books on the Rožmberk Court); Rytíř a intelektuál: Hieronym Beck z Leopoldsdorfu (1525–1596) a jeho knihovna (Knight and Intellectual: Hieronym Beck of Leopoldsdorf (1525–1596) and His Library). Thanks to institutional support, cooperation with the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, and the support of the Czech Academy of Sciences as part of the Strategy AV21 program, the results of this years-long research can be gradually presented to the public through a web-based portal.

The database of surviving books includes basic bibliographic information complemented by a detailed description of information about its origin, binding, and photographic documentation where possible. Besides standard searches, the portal allows for research by the original owner; individual library; or according to the cities where the books gradually departed on their way to Sweden. Currently, the database includes records of about a third of the books known today, and the remaining data will be gradually filled in depending on the opportunities for research in foreign libraries.

A map with the current location of the books is provided to visualise geographic data. The map also offers browsing of records according to the original Czech libraries or individual owners. With institutions, the map shows the provenance structure of the processed books in the collections and allows for the simple display of specific entries in the database. The maps also include detailed information about the circumstances of how the Czech books came to be in specific collections. Another map presents fundamental information about the paths the books from the Czech lands took through Europe during the subsequent centuries: first to Stockholm and then on to other Swedish cities and abroad.

The portal also provides digital copies of the surviving original catalogues that were taken from Bohemia and Moravia along with the individual libraries, which had only been accessible to the Czech public through poor reproductions or were not available at all. These are the catalogues from the Rožmberk and Dietrichstein libraries, as well as the catalogues from the library of Brno physician Jakub Konrád Praetorius of Perlenberk.

Finally, the portal is also the first to offer a Czech translation of several chapters from the Swedish book by Otto Walde (Storhetstidens litterära krigsbyten. En kultur-historisk-bibliografisk studie; Uppsala – Stockholm 1916–1920), which includes fundamental information about the history and especially the holdings of books from Bohemia and Moravia in various Swedish libraries. The translation is complemented by an expert commentary that reflects the current state of knowledge and links to books that have been added to the database.

Portal Author: PhDr. Lenka Veselá, Ph.D.

Maps and Visualisations: Bc. Jaroslava Pachlová