War Booty at Uppsala University Library

SJÖKVIST, Peter and ÖSTLUND, Krister (2017) War Booty at Uppsala University Library. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 88 - Rare Books and Special Collections jointly with Indigenous Matters.

Bookmark or cite this item: https://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1687
Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


War Booty at Uppsala University Library

Uppsala University Library was founded in 1621. The Swedish King Gustavus II Adolphus some years later made large donations to this library of books taken as war booty in Poland. Some decades later, many books originating in Germany, Bohemia and Denmark ended up at Uppsala in a similar manner. Taking cultural war booty is strictly forbidden in the laws of war today, but at the time it could be considered to be legal, if it was done under certain correct circumstances, following the tradition established by Hugo Grotius. In the present paper we discuss some aspects concerning this war booty in Swedish libraries. These books surely travelled across borders, and the idea that war booty accordingly represents a kind of cultural transfer has been suggested from time to time. In this paper this view is problematized. Can this really be seen as an example of cultural transfer, from a historical point of view? Or is it something else?

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