From Venice and Rome to Mainz: Italian Books from Humanism to Counter-Reformation in the Library of Baron Johann Christian von Boineburg

Postdoctoral project supervised by Paola Molino (June 2021 - May 2022), within the PRIN project 'Books in Motion'

Gábor Gángó

The “Maecenas Germaniae,” the Baron Johann Christian von Boineburg (1622-1672) was a book collector, patron of the arts, Lord Marshal at the court of the Mainz Elector Johann Philipp von Schönborn, and not least friend and supporter of the young Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Boineburg’s private library as an encyclopaedic, with an abundant number of hand-written cross-references interconnected “database” and his extended scholarly correspondence provides the source basis for the mapping of the international network of politically, denominationally, and scholarly engaged intellectuals after the Peace of Westphalia.

Gábor Gángó’s project aims at the reconstruction of Boineburg’s role in the knowledge transfer between Germany and Italy. This research would encompass details of the acquisition, circulation, and reviewing of Italian books within his network as well as the determination of the place which science and theology that were produced in Italy occupied in Boineburg’s ever-broadening system of knowledge.

Besides, the project will focus on the issue of confessionality in Boineburg, which crystallised in a special way in his conversion. Boineburg, who received a Lutheran education in Jena and Helmstedt, was converted at the Imperial Diet of Regensburg in 1653. In the literature, his better career prospects at the court of the Mainz Elector are given as possible reasons. Here Gábor Gángó wants to overcome the previous state of research and also reveal the intellectual motives for the conversion. To this end, he will also examine the collective thought processes in Boineburg’s correspondence with other scholars. This collective communication and thought process has a lot to do with Italy and cannot be understood without the Italian context. As it will be shown on the collected source materials, impulses of the Counter-Reformation in the 17th century in general and also particularly in Boineburg’s case came from Rome.

As a result, one would be in a better position to understand, through the case study of an important German Catholic convert, the mid-17th-century reconciliation attempts between the authority of the Catholic Church and the aspirations of modern science and philosophy for the possession of true knowledge.