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Gymnasium Library - Book treasures from lost monastery libraries

The present Gymnasium Library was built during the French occupation of Cologne (1794-1814). Its collections are from various secularised monasteries and from the three old Cologne grammar schools Tricoronatum, Laurentinum and Montanum. The library of the Tricoronatum formed the basis of this collection, whose origin goes back to the year 1450. When the Jesuits settled in Cologne in 1544, the grammar school became a Jesuit college. The books of this library represent the largest part of the Gymnasialbibliothek today. In the following years, the collection of books grew through estates and donations from Cologne citizens and publishers. The main collection of books divided into four sublibraries in the 18th century comprised around 6,500 volumes in 1725. Due to the predominantly Jesuit orientation, theological and philosophical works dominate. In addition, there is a wealth of rare and valuable works from a wide variety of disciplines. During the French annexation, the Gymnasium Library was systematically searched for treasures. Later it was hardly possible to find out which objects were confiscated, since an inventory had been banned. The library was particularly exposed to robbery because it was the first large collection of books owned by the French Revolutionary troops.