Biography. Hilprand (also Hiltprand or Hildebrand) Brandenburg was born in 1442 the second son of a wealthy patrician family seated in Biberach, a small town about 30 kilometers northwest of Buxheim. Not much is known of his childhood or early adulthood. In 1459, at the age of 17, he matriculated at the university in Vienna,[1] but by 1467 we find him in Pavia. A year later, at age 26, Hilprand was studying at the university of Basel, only to return to Pavia the following year. In 1471 he took up a position as rector at his alma mater in Basel, but soon thereafter decided to enter the priesthood. Hilprand was ordained two years later in 1473. During the succeeding years we find him back in his hometown of Biberach, at the opening of the new university of Tübingen (1477), and as far afield as Rome (1479 and 1494). In the 1480s he held several ecclesiastical positions, in Biberach, Wurzach, and Stuttgart. It seems that soon after his return from his last trip to Italy his relationship with the Carthusians at Buxheim became more intimate, and by 1505 he expressed a desire to become a permanent member of that community. He was not admitted into the ranks as a cloistered monk, but rather, given his status as a parish priest, taken under contract as a Donate, those brothers who do not take vows but live with the community through mutual arrangement. Hilprand died in the Buxheim Charterhouse in 1514.[2]

[1] Auge, Oliver, “Frömmigkeit, Bildung, Bücherliebe: Konstanten im Leben des Buxheimer Kartäusers Hilprand Brandenburg (1442-1514),” in Bücher, Bibliotheken und Schriftkultur der Kartäuser, ed. Söhnke Lorenz. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2002, 399-422.

[2] Stöhlker, Friedrich. Die Kartause Buxheim 1402-1803. Vol. 4: Der Personalschematismus I 1402-1554.  Buxheim: Heimatdienst, E.V., 1978, 842-848.

Hilprand’s Epitaph. “Anno domini millesimo quingentesimo / quarto decimo [1514], die vero dudecima mensis Januarii [12 January] obiit honorabilis ac religiosus vir dominus / Hilprandus Brandenburg de Bibraco / donatus professus huius monasterii ac fundator huius capelle, cuius anima requiescat in sancta pace.”

Books. Hilprand is most interesting to us as a first-rate bibliophile. His early studies sparked in him a love of learning, and his family and profession provided him the means to amass a library that, by the early sixteenth century, would have been the envy of any noble in Europe. According to the Buxheim liber benefactorum from 1508, Hilprand would donate a total of some 450 books to the library. His own personal library would add nearly a third of the number of books available to the Carthusian monks in Buxheim by his death in 1514. Along with his books, which were of immense value, he gave money and gifts, including a donation to erect St. Anna’s chapel on the ground floor of the library building in honor of his mother, Anna Klock. It can be stated without exaggeration that Hilprand was for Buxheim the single greatest donor in its history. Of these 450 or so books, approximately 40 manuscripts and over 100 printed books have been identified.[3] They share a particularly striking characteristic in their use of a distinctive and very early printed ex libris bookplate with Hilprand’s coat of arms, as well as an annotation of former ownership and donation by a hand now recognized as none other than that of the prior, Jacob Louber, a man who took a great interest in the library at Buxheim (1502-1514), as he had at Basel (1480-1502). The two had studied together in Basel and no doubt shared a love for books and libraries.

[3] Needham, Paul, “The Library of Hilprand Brandenburg,” in Bibliothek und Wissenschaft 29 (1996): 95-125; and Needham, “Thirteen More Books from the Library of Hilprand Brandenburg,” in Einbandforschung 4 (1999): 23-25.

Text of Title and Dedication. “Ti[tulus] Sermones discipuli [Joh. Herolt] de Tempore.” “Liber Cartusiensis in Buchshaim prope Memingen / proueniens a confratre nostri domino hilprando Brandenburgense / de Bibraco donatus sacerdote continens ut supra Oretur / pro eo et pro quibus desiderauit.”

Yale University, Beinecke Library, Marston 196

Hilprand’s Books. The following table is an updated list by location, if known, of 156 manuscripts and printed books that once belonged to Hilprand Brandenburg. Of these, 127 have been positively identified by current location. This list incorporates Needham’s two lists of 37 manuscripts and 106 printed books total (see footnote above) and Sigrid Krämer’s list in her Scriptores possessoresque codicum medii aevi.

Online Resources:

SMU exhibit on Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, pars prima.
Padua: Albertus de Stendal, 1473, and Hilprand’s bookplate and inscription.

CERL Owners of Incunabula (MEI)

National Gallery of Art, Hilprand’s Bookplate

Eric White, “A Familiar Face: Hilprand Brandenburg’s Bookplate,” 1 May, 2019.