Catalogus librorum prohibitorum

Title page: Catalogus librorum
Catalogus librorum a commissione aulica prohibitiorum, published by the von Trattner publishing house, Vienna 1765, title page
Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Leipzig

Catalogus librorum prohibitorum

An index on the index

The first book in the world that would have deserved being banned would have been a catalogue of banned books.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Sudelbücher, 1779-1783

As director of the Vienna-based Studien- und Büchercensur-Hofkommission – the Austrian Commission for Educational and Literary Censorship - Gerard van Swieten set about reorganising Austrian censorship which, up to that point, had been largely carried out by the Jesuits. He began an Austrian directory of banned books based on the Index librorum prohibitorum of the Roman Catholic Church, conceived as a resource for state authorities and booksellers. The index, which first appeared in 1754, quickly evolved into an interesting literary directory and was itself placed on a banned books register in 1777.