The Correspondence of Johann Valentin Andreae

Primary Contributors:

Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel and Stefania Salvadori

Engraving of Johann Valentin Andreae by Wolfgang Kilian. (Source of image: Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel)

Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654)

Johann Valentin Andreae, writer of devotional literature, preacher, Christian utopian, art collector, naturalist, and member of the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft, represents an imposing figure among theologians of the first half of the seventeenth century. The grandson of the Lutheran theologian Jacob Andreae, he was born in Herrenberg and in 1601 moved to Tübingen where his studies at the University were wide-ranging and included astronomy and mathematics. Following five years of travel abroad he returned around 1608 to Tübingen, where he met the Paracelsian Tobias Hess (1568–1614) and became a member of his circle. During this period Andreae is supposed to have been involved in the composition of the Rosicrucian manifestos, in particular of the Fama Fraternitatis and of the Chymische Hochzeit des Christian Rosenkreuz. After further foreign travel, Andreae took up his theological studies and was ordained into the Lutheran ministry in 1614. He became pastor in the area of Vaihingen and, between 1620 and 1639, chief pastor at Calw.

Although he dissociated himself from the Rosicrucian turmoil, in 1619 Andreae published his utopian work, Christianopolis, that found resonance across Europe. Between 1619 and 1628 he pursued his plans to establish a learned society under the patronage of a ‘pious prince’ to promote spiritual, political, and educational improvement of society, and he published several blueprints for the constitution of a Christian Brotherhood. In 1639 he was appointed court preacher and councillor in Stuttgart and devoted himself to the reorganization of the church in Württemberg, before withdrawing in 1651 to Bebenhausen, where he served as abbot of the local abbey until his death. Andreae’s original literary output decreased in the final decades of his life, but his wide epistolary network reveals his intellectual world vividly to contemporary readers and places it firmly within the early modern European movement that was concerned with the renewal of intellectual culture, spiritual literature, and science.

Partners and Additional Contributors

The metadata for this correspondence was supplied to EMLO by the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, where the inspirational project the Inventory of the correspondence of Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654) was founded and where it was developed under the guidance of Dr Stefania Salvadori, who established the list of Johann Valentin Andreae’s letters with information on any attached documents, correspondents, mentioned people, their original dates and numbers as well as places of destination and secondary literature. The Wolfenbüttel project aims not only to catalogue the correspondence, but also to digitize the documents and provide an online database and a printed catalogue.

Cultures of Knowledge would like to thank in particular Dr Stefania Salvadori for her invaluable help in providing additional information on the people and places involved with, and mentioned in, this correspondence, as well as for her contribution of the text for this introductory page. Thanks are due also to Torsten Schassan for his work to collate the metadata, to EMLO Digital Fellows Lucy Hennings and Katharina Herold, and to EMLO interns Marc Kolakowski and Charlotte Marique for their help with the preparation of this metadata for upload to EMLO.

Key Bibliographic Source(s)

Inventory of the correspondence of Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654)


Even though the majority of Johann Valentin Andreae’s early correspondence was destroyed in 1634 in the great fire in the city of Calw, the surviving collection amounts to more than 4,500 documents. The 3,696 letters in the catalogue at present range in date from 1630 to November 1654; the remaining section of this enormous correspondence will be added to EMLO as the letters are made available online on the Wolfenbüttel database.

The letters are written for the most part in Latin, with a consistent group also in German or in a Latin and German mix. Other languages, such as French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, or Hebrew, are used only in single cases. The correspondence involves more than 300 correspondents. In addition, about 700 people mentioned in the correspondence — i.e. those who were clearly identified by a Name Authority File (GND) in the German National Library — are included in the catalogue. In the dating of this correspondence, the Gregorian calendar has been used throughout and it has been indicated also whether the original date was Julian or Gregorian.

Andreae’s epistolary network had its focus primarily in Baden-Württemberg, especially in the areas of Stuttgart and Tübingen; other important correspondence circles are located in the cities of Strasburg, Augsburg, Nürnberg, and Wolfenbüttel. The correspondence reflects Andreae’s many interests and includes discussions on theological and ecclesiastical topics, great historical events, European court life, the German language, translations, poetry, art and book trade, natural history, and antiquities, including old manuscripts or graphic and musical rarities.

Detail of a letter from Andreae to Duke August the Younger of Braunschweig-Lüneburg. (Source of image: Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Cod. Guelf. 65.1-2 Extrav.)


A considerable section of Andreae’s vast correspondence is held today in the Herzog August Bibliothek. About 5,672 folios — arranged in forty-two volumes — came to Wolfenbüttel over a short period of time, in part because Johann Valentin Andreae himself sent them there, in part stemming from the epistolary exchange between Andreae and Duke August the Younger, and in part through their collection and purchase by Wolfenbüttel’s librarians following Andreae’s death.

Johann Valentin Andreae and Duke August the Younger of Braunschweig-Lüneburg came into epistolary contact in 1640 when the Duke was looking for support for his work on a German Gospel Harmony and, as a result of the mediation of his book agent, Philipp Hainhofer, turned to Andreae, who gladly offered his assistance. From December of that same year, the two men wrote to each other for almost a decade and a half. The long friendship and mutual loyalty they shared persuaded Andreae to place part of his correspondence in August’s hands. He arranged the Latin letters in alphabetical order in six folio-volumes and sent these to Wolfenbüttel in October 1653. A second imposing corpus of the extant correspondence stems from the epistolary exchange between the old theologian and both the Duke and his children, totalling in all about 1,300 letters; today this bundle includes also the most extensive corpus of letters by Andreae himself. The remaining letters, from different correspondents addressed mostly to Andreae, arrived in Wolfenbüttel only after his death. About 460 letters and manuscripts are held in other libraries and archives both in Germany (Berlin, Halle, Hamburg, Köthen, Weimar, Marbach, Munich, and Nuremberg) and abroad (Basel, Strasburg, Vienna, Cambridge, Cracow, and Philadelphia).

Even to this day, Andreae’s vast correspondence is available almost exclusively in manuscript form; just a few sections of it have been published and may be consulted in the following publications:

Seleniana Augustalia Johannis Valentini Andreae, S.T.D. Una cum opusculis aliis, 2 vols (Ulmae Suevorum: Balthasar Kühn, 1649 and 1654) — about 422 letters from the correspondence between Johann Valentin Andreae and Duke August’s children.

‘D. Johann Valentin Andreä […] an D. Johann Schmidt […]’, in Patriotisches Archiv für Deutschland, VI (1787), pp. 285–360 — about seventy-three letters from the correspondence between Johann Valentin Andreae and Johann Schmidt, theologian in Strasbourg, 1633–1654.

Klaus Conermann, ed., Briefe der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft und Beilagen: Die Zeit Fürst Ludwigs von Anhalt-Köthen 1617–1650, Reihe I, Abteilung A, vol. 6 (Köthen, Berlin and Boston, 2013) — fifteen letters from the correspondence between Johann Valentin Andreae and Duke August, 1641–1643.

Wilhelm Kühlmann, ‘Johann Michael Moscherosch in den Jahren 1648–1651: Die Briefe an Johann Valentin Andreae’, in Wilhelm Kühlmann and Walter E. Schäfer, Literatur im Elsaß von Fischart bis Moscherosch (Tübingen, 2001), pp. 201–5 — six letters from Johann Michael Moscherosch to Johann Valentin Andreae, 1648–1651.

Johannes Kvačala, Die pädagogische Reform des Comenius in Deutschland bis zum Ausgange des XVII Jahrhunderts, vol. 1 (Berlin,1903) — about twenty letters and documents by Johann Amos Comenius, Johann Valentin Andreae, Magnus Hesenthaler, Johann Abraham Poemer, and Duke August.

Further resources


Martin Brecht, Johann Valentin Andreae 1586-1654: Eine Biographie (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008).

Martin Brecht, Johann Valentin Andreae und Herzog August zu Braunschweig-Lüneburg: Ihr Briefwechsel und Ihr Umfeld (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzhoog, 2002).

Wolf-Dieter Otte, ‘Der Nachlaß Johann Valentin Andreaes in der Herzog August Bibliothek’, in Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, ed., Rosenkreuz als europäisches Phänomen im 17. Jahrhundert (Amsterdam: In de Pelikaan, 2002), pp. 85–101.

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