KANT IN THE CLASSROOM    Materials to aid the study of Kant’s lectures

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> Königsberg Schools
Kant’s Career [classes at the Coll. Frid.]
Student Life at the University
Student Finances
Composition of the Student Population
The Hofmeister

Kant’s Lectures
The Student Notes

Königsberg Schools

1. The Collegium Fridericianum
2. The Cathedral/Kneiphof School
3. The Altstadt School
4. The Löbenicht School
5. The Royal Orphanage
6. The Gröben Scholarship House
7. The German Reformed School (Burgschule)
8. Smaller Schools


A great many of Kant’s students had received their preparatory schooling in Königsberg. Goldbeck claimed that at least half of the Prussian students attending the university and a large number of the others (especially Pomeranian, Livland, Curland, Russian, and Polish) had previously attended one of the Königsberg Latin schools [Goldbeck 1782, iv]. What follows are very brief descriptions of these schools and related institutions.


The Collegium Fridericianum [top]

The Collegium Fridericianum served as a model Latin school in Königsberg and all of Prussia during the 18th century. It is also of particular interest because Immanuel Kant spent eight years here as a student, from the age of eight until sixteen, when he entered the university. (See a table displaying Kant’s classes at the Collegium Fridericianum, along with a fuller discussion of the subjects offered at the school.) A much more detailed history and description of the school can be found in Klemme [1994] (especially in the reprinted report of the school, published in 1741 by its current inspector, Christian Schiffert).

The school began informally in 1698 when Theodor Gehr (1663-1705), a carpenter, home schooled his children, and then was asked by various families to take in their children as well. He added a university student as a second teacher, and then another to teach poorer children who couldn’t afford the tuition. The following year the Consistory began a legal action against Gehr and investigated his school closely, but in the resulting report of May 1700, the panel found no doctrinal irregularities in either the students or the teachers, and also that the students were exceptionally well-grounded in their subjects. The report thus recommended that Gehr’s home school be made a public school, and that a pastor be attached as its inspector (as was common practice for the other public schools). The government did not follow this recommendation, but with the coronation of Friedrich I in Königsberg in 1701, Gehr approached the King for a royal privilege, which was granted on March 4, 1701, giving Gehr a wood allowance from the royal forests worth roughly 200-300 rthl. per year. The school was then known as the Königlichen Schule (Royal School).

Heinrich Lysius [bio] was called to Königsberg in 1702 to become the school’s first director and inspector. At this time, there was no building as such, the classes being held in various houses in the Sackheim district. In 1703, Lysius and Gehr procured a house in the Burgfreyheit, built a small church into it where they held their first worship service, and was granted by the king the name ‘Kollegii Fridericiani.” An observatory was added (the only public observatory in Königsberg). With time rooms were built to house between forty and fifty boys [Goldbeck 1782, 211].

In 1730, the king ordered the three city schools to follow the Pietism of the Collegium Fridericianum, and the education reforms of 1735 (decreed on Oct. 25) lifted up this school as a model for all other Latin schools in Prussia [Gause 1996, ii.125].


Collegium Fridericianum

The buildings of the school formed a quadrilateral. Included were the apartment of the first-inspector, the chapel, nine special rooms for the six Latin and three German classes, the rooms of the sub-inspector, the inspectors of the poor schools, and the teacher of the first Latin classes, and finally 25 to 26 student dormitory rooms, that slept three people in each: two student pensioners and one university student serving as supervisor (called an Inspicient [glossary]). A pair of rooms were set aside to serve as an infirmary, and there was an additional room situated at each of the two entrances to the school: in one lived the Oekonom or cook (where the dining hall was also found), in the other lived the Hausmeister, responsible for maintaining the building and grounds [Goldbeck 1782, 223]. Students not living at the school either lived at home, or were placed in homes in the city by the inspector [Ibid., 224]. The cost of room and board (including the public classes, lunch and supper, room, wood, light, laundry service and cleaning) came in two categories: 80 rthl (= 240 gulden) and 172 gulden. In 1742, the “first table” cost 66 2/3 rthl./year and the “second table” cost 50 rthl./year. If the parents wanted their child to eat at the Head Inspector's table, the cost was 110 rthl/year. If they wanted the student to share a room just with his supervisor, the cost was 120 rthl/year [Ibid., 225].  Poor students who were well-mannered might be allowed to work as a famulus [glossary] for the Inspector, for which they received room and board, as well as free access to the private lessons. The fees for room and board (Pensionen) were paid in advance either quarterly or semi-annually, and students needed to pay extra for breakfast, sick care, and private lessons [Ibid., 225].

Every morning (at 6 in winter, 5 in summer) the servant would knock on the doors of all the bedrooms, and students would have fifteen minutes to wash and get dressed and ready for prayers, a hymn, and a chapter out of the Bible read by the Inspicient. This occurred on every day but Friday, when all the Inspicients gathered at 5 for an hour of prayer with the 1st Inspector, with the pensioners gathering in a separate classroom for an hour of prayer with the 2nd inspector [Goldbeck 1782, 225-26]. Classes began at 7 and ended at 11. Lunch was served at noon in the company of the three teachers of the upper Latin classes. Classes began again at 1 and lasted until 4. An inspector stood in the hallways between classes to maintain order.  Private lessons were offered from 4-5. The hours 5-7 and 8-9 were for preparing for the next day’s class — in these hours the whole school was to be quiet. Supper was served at seven. By ten, all lights had to be out [Ibid., 204-27].


The Cathedral/Kneiphof School [top]

The three city schools (Altstadt, Kneiphof, Löbenicht) had as their inspectors the pastors of their connected churches, according to Goldbeck [1782, 186-89]. He also discusses holidays, teacher salaries (drawn from the church budgets), and the social status of the teachers (as provided for in a decree of 1704). As for salaries, the Altstadt paid the most and Löbenicht the least.

The Cathedral (Dom) or Kneiphof School was founded in the early 14th century, and was in the same building complex as the university, physically connected to the Dom. Daily instruction was divided into six public and two private hours, although Wednesday and Saturday classes met only in the morning. There were ten teachers, including the cantor. The teaching method, textbooks, etc., all followed the Royal general prescription of 1735 for Latin schools.  The attached poorhouse had space for 30 boys, and the Conrector of the school oversaw the poorhouse and lodged there as well.

Several scholarships were available [Goldbeck 1782, 180].  Enrollment (including the 30 students from the poorhouse) was 160. Two exams were given each year, at the end of each semester (at Easter and at St. Michael’s). The school had its own library (housed in a special room), consisting of 2000 volumes. The first four teachers (in 1782) were: Rector Hr. George Christoph Pisanski [bio], Prorector Johan Georg Harnack, Conrector Johan Biallas (also the supervisor of the poorhouse), Cantor George Riedel (also the music director). Of the six other teachers, five were called Kollegen and one a Kollaborator. Kant had attempted to procure a teaching position here in 1757, but Wilhelm Benjamin Kahnert was hired instead. This was the position vacated by Andreas Wasianski (died Oct. 11, 1757), the father of Kant’s later biographer. Kahnert had already taught for two years at the Löbenicht school before applying here [Goldbeck 1782, 175-83].


The Altstadt School [top]

After the Cathedral School, the Altstadt School was the oldest in Königsberg, dating back to the 14th century. F. A. Schultz [bio] was serving as the inspector in Kant's day (he had been pastor there since 1731, replacing Abraham Wolf). Schultz was also director of the Collegium Fridericianum since 1733, and completely overhauled the Altstadt School in its image (following government policies of 1735).

There were nine teachers, all of whom lived in the school itself or nearby. Subjects included Latin (offering five classes, and with a special room just for Latin), theology (five classes), Greek (three classes), Hebrew (three classes), French (two classes), Rhetoric (four classes), Poetry (three classes), History (three classes: Jewish history, Völkergeschichte), Geography (five classes), Mathematics (six classes), Philosophy (taught in the upper Latin classes: history of philosophy and the principles of logic), vocal music, calligraphy/orthography, drawing/painting, Polish.

A poorhouse was associated with the school, and had space for 24 boys, all of whom received room/board, clothing, and education at the school. A cantor lived at the poorhouse, as did the Oekonom (the cook) or Paupervater. There were various scholarships for poor students (providing anywhere from 22 to 30 Gulden per year — which was used to purchase texts, it appears). A German school for both boys and girls was also attached to the Latin school; this was the so-called Rathschule, and its single teacher was the 5th ranking teacher of the Altstadt school (although Kandidaten would also help out), and the instruction was given in his home.

Enrollment was around 240 (although this might include the German school). The inspector was the pastor of the Altstadt church (in 1782: Neumann), who was expected to give some religious instruction, apart from visiting the classrooms. The “first four teachers” (in 1782) were titled the Rector (Johannes Christian Daubler), Prorector (Daniel Weymann [bio]), Conrector (Michael Jäschke [bio]), and Kantor or music director (Cölestin Contkowski). There were also five other teachers (Kollegen). [Goldbeck 1782, 160-74]


The Löbenicht School [top]

The Löbenicht School was founded in the middle of the 16th century. Both the school and adjoining poorhouse burned down in the fire of 1764, but were rebuilt. The poorhouse has room for fifteen boys. There were seven teachers in 1782: Rector Johannes Christoph Hampus, Prorector Wilhelm Benjamin Conrad, Conrector Johannes Gottlieb Schultz, Cantor and Music Director Johannes Gottlieb Fischer, and three more teachers [Goldbeck 1782, 183-86].


The Royal Orphanage [top]

Founded in 1701 by Friedrich I and built just inside the city walls near the Sackheim Gate, this orphanage had room for 30 boys “from good families,” with six places reserved for the orphans of nobility. Half of the positions (12 + 3) were for Lutheran, and half for Reformed children. The children wore good uniforms (distinguishing the nobility from the bourgeoisie). Classes ran from 8-12 and 2-5, and were divided into five classes, with four teachers — again, half from Lutheran, and half from Reformed churches, the oldest of each being an ordained minister for leading the worship service (which alternated between them). The four teachers had free lodging in the orphanage, and two additional teachers lived elsewhere and offered instruction in writing, drawing, and music. Given the free lodging, the salaries, and the preferential treatment they would later enjoy for royal appointments, the orphanage attracted some of the best young teachers and became one of the preeminent schools of Prussia, according to Goldbeck

Of those students who wished to continue at the university, eight received three years of financial support (40 Rth. per year). The others could stay at the orphanage until they learned a useful trade or joined the military service. All students were examined twice yearly in the presence of the directors and the inspector. The orphanage was overseen by a minister of state and four inspectors (two civil, two ecclesiastical — namely, the leading Lutheran and leading reformed pastor of the city, die beyden Oberhofprediger). An Oekonom or cook also lived at the orphanage. [Goldbeck 1782, 153-55]


The Gröben Scholarship House [top]

The following account is based on Arnoldt [1746, ii.13-15] and Goldbeck [1782, 156-60]. In 1711, two years before his death Friedrich von der Gröben set aside an endowment of 2920 Gulden for the education of his descendents and others, specifically: five nobility of his family (for six years) and one bourgeois student (for three years).  Students would be received into the house “as soon as they could perform Latin exercises well” (so bald sie ein gutes lateinisches Exercitium machen können). The nobility were to receive stipends of 200 rthl. annually and the sixth student would receive 200 Gulden (where 3 Gulden = 1 Rthl, so 1/3 the stipend the amount of the aristocratic boys).  As it turned out, however, all students received 500 Gulden equally.  A house was purchased for them to live in (18,000 to 20,000 Gulden were set aside for this purpose) — this large house, not far from the university buildings, came to be called the Scholarship House (Stipendienhaus). The first students occupied the house in 1712.

An inspector was also assigned to the house, and he receives 100 Gulden tuition per year from each student's stipend — good pay, but from this he needs to pay one or two tutors (Hofmeister) as well, and who also lived in the house for free, and on top of this received a salary of 400 Gulden. The inspector provides the meals, for which he receives about 250 Gulden from the scholarships. He is also able to let out extra rooms.

“In all, the scholars receive for their stipend room and board, firewood, light [lamp oil, presumably], and instruction in Latin, history, geography, philosophy, and mathematics; more recently also in French and other languages; and in painting, dancing, fencing, and riding.”  What remains of their money goes for their clothing and pocket money, and for paying for special instruction (e.g., in music). The private instruction is just for the nobility “since it's really a family school, and most of them devote themselves to the military service. In this instance and so long as they cannot attend the academic lectures, they are not allowed to matriculate at the university. [Presumably because such matriculation frees the student from military service.]  The bourgeois scholar, on the other hand, must be a matriculated student” [Goldbeck 1782, 158].

Two members of the Gröben family serve as trustees, and they award the scholarships as well as hire and fire the inspector. The students are tested every six months by a panel consisting of the two trustees, the rector of the university, and the deans of the philosophy and law faculties. The rector is compensated 20 Gulden, and each dean 15 Gulden, for each exam. On the death day of the founder (May 23) a public speech is given in the large hall of the university by one of the scholars, accompanied by the full professor of rhetoric (for which he receives 100 Gulden, from which he must also print the programs)[159]. The current inspector is Herr Dunker (former lecturer of English at the university); before him, the inspector was Professor Reusch [160].


The German Reformed School [top]

Gause [1996, ii.269] calls this the Burgschule; Goldbeck [1782, 189-201] sings the school’s praises, recommending its enlightened instructional method that emphasizes understanding over memorization. There are three full teachers (the rector, conrector, and subrector — here, perhaps unlike elsewhere, the rector operates somewhat like a school principal, but also with a teaching load) and eleven other teachers (these consist of nine Collaborators, who appear to be either students from the upper classes helping with the lower, or university students, as well as two writing and arithmetic masters). Stephen Wannowski [bio] was the rector at the time of Goldbeck’s report (September 1780), and there were 102 students enrolled. Goldbeck describes the curriculum, mentions some texts, and quotes from an advertisement for the school that ran in the KGPZ (1779). See also Zweck [1914].


Smaller Schools [top]

Gause calls these “church schools,” and claims that they were roughly of the same educational level as the poor schools affiliated with the Collegium Fridericianum [1996, ii.126]. Nearly every church in the suburbs supported a school at which one to three teachers were employed; these teachers had to have studied at the university, and they normally were employed in some fashion at the church, such as the cantor or the organist. The children were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, religion, and letter-writing, as well as some basics in natural science, history, and Latin. Goldbeck mentions twelve of these schools (the number of teachers employed is in parentheses): Sackheim (3), Haberberg (2), Tragheim (2), Roßgarten (2), Neu-Roßgarten (1), the school attached to the royal hospital (1), the school in the Fredericksburg fortress (1), the school near St. George's hospital (1) — this is the school Kant attended, before moving on to the Collegium Fridericianum — the Polish school (1), and the Lithuanian school (1). All of the above schools are Evangelical Lutheran; the last two are taught in German as well as the second language. Finally, there is a French-reformed school (2), where children are taught in French, and a Roman Catholic school (with one prior and four brothers, who live in the Cloister, hold worship services and teach) [Goldbeck 1782, 254-55].

Copyright ©2006 Steve Naragon (Manchester University)
Last modified: 26 Feb 2008
Please send comments and questions to: ssnaragon@manchester.edu