Dr. Heinrich Thöne/Thonemann

Founder of Warburg Grammar School and donor of a book of gospels – a great doer of good deeds

The foundation and its purpose

The school called “Gymnasium Marianum” in Warburg – next to Paderborn grammar school the oldest high school in the earlier Paderborn upper part of diocese – has existed for more than 360 years. It was founded in 1628 as the monastery school. The foundation of this first public high school was made possible by the donation of Heinrich Thöne in 1619, by securing the maintenance payments for the teachers required. The town of Warburg, which had a great interest in the foundation and the prompt beginning of school, did not have the financial means necessary to settle the personnel costs in this time of the Thirty Years War. As a border town between Paderborn and the Protestant territories in Hesse, Warburg suffered again and again from plunder, destruction, billeting and having to make contributions and thus a burden of debt that lasted decades after the war. In no way in these decades did Warburg have the financial means required for the foundation and securing of a high school.

Heinrich Thöne came from Warburg, in 1566 he was born the eldest of five sons from the first marriage of the councillor and chamberlain in the old town Johann VI. Thöne (brother of Martin Thonemann, the Abbot of Hardehausen) to Gertrud, née Volmar – both from rich patrician families. Gertrud Volmar was the sister of Mayor Cord Volmar, whose two brothers were university professors in Mainz. Their mother Angela was the heir of the mayoral family von Listingen, daughter and sister of a mayor and also sister of the provost of Fritzlar and deacon of St Stephan in Mainz, Johann von Listingen. Heinrich Thöne’s grandfather was Johann V. Heinrich Thone, called Thonemann, the direct ancestor of our family.

In 1619 Heinrich Thöne was cantor and canon at St. Viktor in Mainz, an Augustinian chapter of the canons. He donated his home town of Warburg capital of 2000 Reichstaler with the obligation that for the 100 Taler annual interest a high school should be maintained with three classes at first (Infirma, Secunda, Syntaxis). Heinrich Thöne had lent this amount of 2000 Reichstaler to the archbishop of Mainz as a contribution to the costs of the Böhmisch-Pfälzisch war. The document of foundation of 1619 expressly stipulated that the Council of the town of Warburg use the interest amount of 100 Taler for the payment of teachers, also that the educational tasks be transferred to the Dominican order in Warburg.

The school was opened in 1628 after General Erwitte, commander of the allied troops, in Warburg again, had donated another 50 Reichstaler (document of 10 April 1628).

In keeping with the purpose of the foundation, the new school was to serve the “better education of the boys studying and to be set up in the monastery.

The foundation of a high school did not only correspond to a need among the citizenry, to make a better and continuing education possible for young people in Warburg; it was also under the banner of the counterreformation and was initiated by the founder in this sense. In his will Heinrich Thöne assumed that the Catholic faith would last in his home town or that a re-catholicisation would be successful.

The exact wording of the foundation document on the background of the foundation: “so that in Warburg, at this stage purged from heretics, is reformed and Catholic, the more bass teachers to their virtue here”.

He connected the annual payment of 100 Taler to “the mayor, council and the whole community of both towns” even with the condition: “as long as they remain Catholic”.

The school was expanded to a full five-class institution 15 years later in 1643. For this the town of Warburg committed itself to the Dominicans to pay the nine extra teachers 30 Taler annually and promised a later topping up of 10 Taler in better times. The additional classes were called “Poetica” and “Rhetorica”. The school was called “Gymnasium Marianum” after the church “b. Mariae Virgines in vinea”, a Dominican church.

The management of the school was in the hands of a “Pater Praefektus” (Director), who supervised the entire tuition and was responsible to the prior of the monastery. A superior school supervision did not yet exist. In so far as the number of pupils made it possible, one teacher taught in each class and indeed all subjects. The teachers, who were called “Professores” were scientifically educated at the high schools of the orders. However they were not equipped with any special pedagogical preparatory training. When they had taught all five classes, they were mostly called away to do other duties.

The school lessons were free; however the pupils had to pay a certain amount for the schoolbooks in which the lessons for the subjects of a class were compiled.

The pupils came without exception from Warburg and the neighbouring places. Many of the pupils who did not intend pursuing the academic professions later, attended only the lower three classes. Some school-leavers after five years school attendance entered the Dominican order; the majority turned to university studies.

J. C. Schlaun – pupil of this grammar school

Johann Conrad Schlaun, born in Nörde near Warburg in 1695, was one of the most famous pupils or A-level students of this Warburg monastery school. He was a great builder of famous castles, worked in Italy and France, Southern Germany and from 1723 in Münster/Westphalia. There in 1745 he became head building director and major-general. He brought the Westphalian baroque through strong, imaginative penetration of the indigenous brick and stone construction with western classicism to a significant late blossoming. His versatile castle and residential building art peaked in Erbdrostenhof (1753 to 1757) and the Residenzschloss in Münster (1767 to 1773); Clemenskirche (1745 to 1753) built by him in Münster is the most imaginative building in North-west Germany. Schlaun is well-known in our home as a result of the beautiful buildings in Münster, especially Jagdschloss Clemenswerth (1736 to 1750). This great artistic builder Johann Conrad Schlaun has passed on lots of other excellent buildings to posterity.

The Warburg Dominican school ended in this form because the Dominican monastery in Warburg was finally dissolved by the royal-Prussian cabinet order of 31 December 1824. In an altered form as a Progymnasium, the school was eventually continued. The citizens and administration of Warburg made numerous petitions and applications to the Prussian school authorities as they did not want to do without the 200-year tradition of school education of the children of Warburg.

In a review of the many school years it is astonishing to note the idealism, spirit of sacrifice and great enthusiasm for educational matters, with which both town and citizens stood up for their school.

Dr. Heinrich Thöne – a great philanthropist – donor of the book of gospels

Heinrich Thöne attended the famous Jesuit grammar school in Mainz and later studied at the universities in Mainz and Cologne and did his doctorate in 1585 in the fine arts. He became a Benefiziat (user of property in return for services) in Warburg and Neuenherse and Kanonikus (member of an order) in Hildesheim and Mainz, also cantor (precentor, head of the school) and finally Kurmainzer privy councillor. Certainly family tradition and family relationships had led him to Mainz, to this bishop’s city, as his great uncle Cord IV Thöne had been prior at St. Stephan in Mainz and the brother of his mother, the privy councillor Dr. Heinrich Volmar was generally known and esteemed here.

Thus he received as the nephew of this prelate the same position his uncle had held shortly after the latter’s death. In 1621 as scholar at St. Victor’s he took over the office of master of the novices among the future canons and was, at the same time, librarian of the canon. Without a doubt the right bibliophile was found in him, as on the occasion of his appointment he donated a book of gospels, a work that is still one of the treasures of the cathedral of Mainz. Today (1994) it is a 600 year-old parchment, done by hand in 1400, rich with initials and margins and which the donor Thöne/Thonemann had bound with a splendid silver-golden binding by a goldsmith. On the front of the binding of the parchment document there is a golden crucifixion group with Jesus, Mary and John in a cassette-like inlay, as well as two angels with goblets in massive, graphic figures in a baroque frame. On the inside of the front cover is: “Ad gloriam Dei Optimi Maximi et suorum sanctorum Evangeliorum ego Henricus Thönen Warburgensis Westfalicus, cantor et canonicus St Victoris, hunc librum exterius exornari feci anno Dn 1621”.

Description of the book of gospels of Dr. Heinrich Thöne (Thonemann), Cantor and Canon of St. Viktor (1621). This partly dates from the 15th century.

Cover a high wooden box, covered with red leather on the outside. Cavity and sides of the box covered with silver-plated copper-tin.

In the gold-plated edition cast figures and pierced ornament corners.
Christ on the cross with Mary and John. Two angels with goblets.
Above coat of arms with clover cross 1621.
Until 1621 belonging to St Victor seminary, then until 1793 St John, then the Cathedral.

(Photo: Magrit Hankel 2001)

Parchment fol. 31.6 x 23cm, gothic minuscule with blue-red filigree letters and creeper pattern.
From page 10 the frames crudely painted over in the 17th century. On the flyleaf entries from 1621. Incorrectly bound. Around 1400.

(Photo: Magrit Hankel 2001)

Heinrich Thöne was a well-to-do person. His great wealth, but also his generosity distinguished him. A great benefactor for the hospital in Warburg, likewise a great benefactor for the hospital in Mainz, also for the poor of Warburg, his home town. He was the founder of two family scholarships and, above all, founder of Warburg grammar school.

His bubbling sources of money must have been generally known, as in 1607 the Landgrave Ludwig V of Hesse borrowed the large amount of 5,066 guilders and 3,000 Spanish Taler from Heinrich Thöne for the foundation of the University of Gießen. Also the Count Palatine Johann von Zweibrücken, Valdenz, borrowed 500 gold guilders from him, the two Electors of Mainz, Johann Schweickart and Anselm Casimir, each 2000 Taler as well as the Earl of Waldeck 400 Taler, finally the Earl of Rietberg 150 gold guilders.

When the St. Cyriaci Hospital for the poor in his home town of Warburg was in need of repair, “that it offered pilgrims and other inmates no more shelter from wind and rain”, Heinrich Thöne provided 600 Taler for repairs and extensions, and in addition for the further security of the institution bequeathed by will his house in Warburg which had become his from the inheritance of his great uncle, Mayor Hermann von Listingen. At the same time as a further security for the social work of the hospital, as a donation of his uncle Heinrich Volmar in 1618, an area of 50 to 60 Morgen (1 morgen = 0.25 ha), and also three gardens and a meadow; as a result it was possible to call these donations securing the future of the hospital, Warburg Hospital, virtually a family endowment of Listingen – Volmar – Thöne. On account of this generous donation the hospital management gave the Thonemann family the right to bestow two of the twelve hospital rooms on needy people. At the same time the second hospital, St. Lucia in Warburg-Molhausen, received 700 Taler for a new building. The biggest donation in the charitable-social field was received by Barbara-Hospital in Mainz with the total sum of 1,000 Hungarian gold guilders and 2,000 Reichstaler in 1607. This sum was later doubled in his will.

Science also received large sums from Heinrich Thöne; the amount of 5,066 guilders and 2,000 Spanish Taler given to Landgrave Ludwig V at the foundation of the University of Gießen in 1607 was topped up with 1,000 Spanish Taler in 1613.

It is surprising that a Catholic canon, who had originated in the counter-reformation Jesuit school, provided for the time enormous sums of money to a Lutheran sovereign for the foundation of a Lutheran university. This showed the great tolerance and spiritual greatness of this noble donor. If only the rich (ecclesiastical) sovereigns had taken on some of this mentality in the period that followed.

All these big donations and charitable deeds were in keeping with his great spirit and his basic attitude to help needy institutions and people, wherever he knew of the need. In 1936 Dr. Wilhelm Thöne from Bad Soden listed in a letter to a relative all the endowments and donations recorded and valued them at 780,000 Reichsmark (1994 about DM 9 million to 10 million or in 2000 about 4.6 million EUR to 5.1 million EUR).

His highly developed feelings for family and home did not allow him to forget his birth place and home town of Warburg. Until his death he felt himself closely connected to his family and home. How much good did this exemplary man from our family do in a quiet way in addition to what is recorded in the files?

All these charities and good deeds outlived the Marianum Grammar School in Warburg and the book of gospels that always reminds us of this noble, subtle, highly gifted and liberal person. And do his deep faith, his loyalty to the Church and his behaviour to his fellow men not have a message for us today?

Heinrich died on 30 May 1637 in Mainz. Wherever the name Heinrich Thöne is mentioned, it always has to do with generous presents and donations. Certainly there was great wealth in the Thöne/Thonemann family in earlier times. A lot was added to this. At the turn of the 17th century many well-off families – von Listingen, Volmar, von Reußen – died out, their property and wealth likewise came to the Thonemann family. Also the rich prelates Johann von Listingen and Dr. Heinrich Volmar endowed Heinrich Thöne with their profitable benefices.

In Warburg the Volmar family, registered as councillors from 1400 to 1600, were closely related to von Listingen, Thöne, Lauren and Berven. From the middle to the end of the 16th century the family died in Warburg. Thanks to Dr. Heinrich Volmar, provost in Fritzlar, deacon and rector of the university in Mainz, who set up a scholarship for Warburg students, which passed on to Dr. Heinrich Thöne, a course of studies was made possible by the Thonemann family and their successors for numerous students from Warburg.