St Catherine´s Hospital in Regensburg


The Katharinenspital holds an exceptionally well preserved stock of archive material, which goes as far back as the 12th century. As Bürgerspital (hospital for the citizens), the Katharinenspital was Regensburg’s central hospital and welfare institution. This explains the numerous donations as well as its ownership of various estates in the whole region. The estates Aschach, Höhenberg and Amhof can be taken as representative examples. The supervisory rights of both the diocesan chapter and the town council, as well as dry and fireproof vaults and the evacuation of the archives in times of crisis are responsible for this almost complete transmission of historical material.


The constitution of the Spital, which was the legal and administrative precondition for complete transmission, remained basically unchanged over the course of the past eight centuries. Reformation and the Peace of Westphalia made it an institution based on equal representation on a council. The supervisory rights for the Spitalarchiv were finally handed over to the Dalbergstaat in 1802 and to the kingdom of Bavaria in 1810/1823. Whereas the former Bürgerspitäler (hospitals for the citizens) were put under local supervision and administration everywhere else, the Katharinenspital has remained an independent foundation supervised by the government of the Upper Palatinate to the present day. This is due to the historical and confessional development of Regensburg, and is responsible for the continued existence of the Spital´’s constitution, council and archive. The eight members of the council are supervising the administration of the hospital.


The archives of the Katharinenspital have always served as archive, filing department and administration section and have been able to keep its large possessions far beyond the times of secularization because the hospital was a charitable foundation. The agrarian reform of the mid-nineteenth century finally created the legal preconditions to hand the real estates over to their former tenants. Thus, the administration’s perspective of the archives changed: The legal importance of the older written material decreased, whereas its historical importance increased. Another fact that contributed to the preservation of the Spitalarchiv is that a selection of “valuable” documents and titles never took place. This would have probably meant a depreciation and maybe even a final loss of the remaining archive material.


Especially the decision of the general archivist Carl Theodor Gemeiner against moving of the Spitalarchiv in Regensburg’s town hall guaranteed its preservation, because the administrations of town and state conducted major macula up to the mid-nineteenth century. Several hospital masters rendered the development of the archive material a great service by making repertoires and regests. The hospital did not only preserve its own written material, but it also bought documents concerning the hospital and thus protected them destruction. It might sound ironic, but the Katharinenspitals archive material only survived the turbulent 19th century because no archivists had access to the material. The hospital masters appreciated the historical importance and, eventually, also the material value of the archive and the collections step. By now, both archive and collections are essential and inalienable part of the Katharinenspitalstiftung’s assets. The rules of the archive and the foundation and the foundation’s statutes demand that these be properly administrated by experts. With the foundation of the University of Regensburg, the interest in the archive material, which is important for town and region, has increased.