Image: Public Domain
Portrait of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel by Jakob Schlesinger, 1831

1. From Jena to Bamberg

The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt, in which Napoleon’s forces crushed the Prussian troops, and the destruction and pillaging in their wake, fundamentally changed life in the Thuringian city of Jena. Teaching at the university was temporarily suspended, student numbers fell sharply, and many professors left the city to seek employment elsewhere. These included the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), who had lived in Jena since early 1801 and been appointed professor there in 1805 (unsalaried at first, though he later drew a modest stipend). Hegel initially left the city only temporarily, between early November and mid-December 1806, so that he could oversee the printing of his Phenomenology of Spirit by the publisher Anton Göbhardt in Bamberg. Upon his return, he found himself facing great personal and professional difficulties. On February 8, 1807, his former housekeeper, Christiane Charlotte Burckhardt (née Fischer), gave birth to their son, Georg Ludwig Friedrich Fischer. Hegel had no plans to marry her, and mother and child stayed behind in Jena when he departed to Bamberg for the second time in early March 1807.1

Although Hegel had considered moving to Bamberg already in late 1800,2 the final decision to do so was primarily due to his difficult circumstances. His biographer Terry Pinkard writes: “When, out of the blue, [Friedrich Immanuel] Niethammer offered him a position as editor of a newspaper in Bamberg, Hegel jumped at the chance, although it is clear that he did it with some regret.”3 Although Hegel accepted the editor’s job at the Bamberger Zeitung for want of any other alternatives, he saw it as a strictly temporary solution, “something to which he was not completely averse but which was clearly second-best for him.”4 He still hoped to pursue an academic career,5 writing in June 1808 to the Jena publisher Carl Friedrich Ernst Frommann: “I cannot go there without a respectable salary, but with one, I would love to, and, if I consider the matter well, would rather go nowhere else. Apart from Jena I almost despair of obtaining honorable work again.”6

Although biographical studies have paid some attention to Hegel’s work as an editor in Bamberg,7 details of his social life there are generally scant and confine themselves to lists of his activities as well as his friends and acquaintances in the city.8 Hegel’s correspondence during his time in Bamberg—from March 1807 to November 1808—suggests that he associated mainly with doctors, clergymen, civil servants, and army officers. While some of these individuals were prominent figures in the city’s history or in the wider intellectual, literary, and educational history of the period, of others there is little trace beyond Hegel’s mentions of them in his correspondence. This article examines the biographies and networks of Hegel’s Bamberg acquaintances more closely and situates them within their historical context in order to give a clearer picture of the philosopher’s social circle during his Bamberg years than previous accounts and to shed further light on the intellectual and social changes that were occurring in the city at the turn of the nineteenth century.

2. Context

The context of Hegel’s life and work in Bamberg between spring 1807 and fall 1808 was shaped by four main factors. The first and probably most important was the secularization of the prince-bishopric [Hochstift] after the city was occupied by Bavarian forces in fall 1802, ending Bamberg’s centuries-old status as an independent ecclesiastical territory. Bamberg, with a population of 18,388 in 1804, went from being the capital of an autonomous territory and residence of a prince-bishop to a provincial Bavarian town.9 While some of the city’s residents lost out as a result (the cathedral chapter and university were closed, the prince-bishopric’s bureaucracy and most of the monasteries were dissolved), for others it meant new opportunities. Prior to 1802, Bamberg had been the seat of a Catholic bishopric, and Protestants were unable to practice their religion openly; following its incorporation into Bavaria, the city became multidenominational. The local Protestants were granted the old collegiate church of St. Stephan’s, where they held services from 1806 onwards.10 Bamberg also underwent major health and social reforms. Adalbert Friedrich Marcus (1753–1816),11 the former personal physician to the prince-bishop, had become founding director of Bamberg’s pioneering general hospital in 1789, but his career subsequently stalled under the reign of the last prince-bishop, Christoph Franz von Buseck (r. 1795–1802). Marcus took the change of rulers as an opportunity to secure the post of medical director for Franconia and implement wide-ranging reforms. In late April 1803, Marcus wrote to Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling that he wanted “to bring medical institutions in Franconia to a point without precedent in Germany.”12 During that year, he proceeded with breathtaking speed to that end, founding a health board, a hospice, a maternity home, training centers for midwives and medical orderlies, a medical and surgical academy, and a psychiatric institute. As a result, Bamberg’s healthcare system was soon highly advanced by the standards of the time. In May 1803, Schelling wrote to Hegel, “Marcus governs land and people, and his hospital, which is now a medical school, is set up superbly once again.”13

Bamberg’s resulting reputation among educated Central Europeans as a center for pioneering medicine was a second key factor that shaped Hegel’s time in the city. Aside from the hospital, this renown was due mainly to Marcus and his intermittent deputy Andreas Röschlaub (1768–1835) championing the new, much-discussed Brunonian theory of medicine, which they began provisionally implementing in Bamberg in the mid-1790s. The Bamberg physicians’ reforms and experiments attracted hordes of young doctors to the city in the years around 1800. A visit by the philosopher Schelling began a phase of collaboration with Marcus and Röschlaub that culminated in Marcus and Schelling copublishing the Yearbooks of Medicine as a Science (Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft, 1805–1808).14

When Marcus became increasingly attracted to Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, however, it caused a rift between him and Röschlaub, who had developed the Brunonian model into his own theory of excitation.15 Exasperated by Marcus’s egotism and intellectual fickleness, Röschlaub accepted a post in Landshut in 1802, and Marcus replaced him with the young physician Conrad Joseph Kilian (1771–1811) from Jena, who was a firm proponent of Naturphilosophie.16 However, Kilian also fell out with Marcus in 1804 after Marcus published a critical article about Würzburg’s university and hospital under Kilian’s name. Kilian, who felt he had been slandered and bullied by Marcus, launched legal proceedings against him and published a lengthy polemic attacking Marcus in 1805.17

Hegel, who may have met Kilian during his time in Jena, was aware of these events. In December 1804, he wrote to his friend Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer (1766–1848)18—a philosopher, theologian, and fellow native of Württemberg—“I heard of Marcus’s triumph over Kilian and feel sorry for the latter, who despite his actual legal victory is the defeated party.”19 In a later letter to Niethammer, dated March 1805, Hegel wrote, “Without a doubt, some fine insights are still to be expected from Kilian and Marcus. Kilian at least does not appear to be as completely laid out on the floor against Marcus as it seems, and at least apparently is still able to knock Marcus down.”20 In November 1805, Hegel received a highly critical report about Röschlaub from his correspondent Karl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner (1783–1857). Röschlaub was alleged to have plagiarized the dissertation of Karl Eberhard Schelling, brother of the philosopher.21 Hence, even before 1807, Hegel was aware of Bamberg’s reputation as a leading center for medicine as well as of the quarrels between some of its preeminent physicians.

A third key factor that shaped the historical context of Hegel’s time in Bamberg was the Coalition Wars against Revolutionary/Napoleonic France, in which the city was repeatedly caught up between 1796 and 1815. Bamberg was first occupied by France in 1796, and was divided between French and Austrian occupying forces from December 1800 until April 1801. In summer 1806, French troops were once again stationed in Bamberg, and Napoleon signed the declaration of war on Prussia in the city in early October that same year.22 When the French forces departed from Bamberg, they were joined by the Alsatian priest Gérard Gley (1761–1830), who had left France in 1791 due to the passing of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. After working as a tutor for aristocratic families in Cologne and Mainz, Gley came to Bamberg in 1794, where he discovered the medieval Heliand manuscript in the cathedral library, worked as a language teacher, and in 1795 became editor of the Bamberger Zeitung, the prince-bishopric’s first independent newspaper.23 According to Matthias Winkler, the success of the paper—which Gley edited until 1801, and then again from 1804 to 1806, from the rear annex of Marcus’s house24—and of the political supplement Charon demonstrates “the innovativeness of the émigré Gley, who shortly after his arrival in Bamberg identified gaps in the publishing market and managed to tap into potential demand.”25 Gley also studied Kant’s philosophy, and met with Schelling and August Wilhelm Schlegel—with whom Marcus presumably put him in touch—in Bamberg in 1800. In 1805, he traveled to Erlangen to attend Johann Gottfried Fichte’s inaugural lecture.26 When Gley joined the troops commanded by Marshal Louis-Nicolas d’Avoût27 as an interpreter in the fall of 1806 and accompanied them to Prussia and Poland, the editorship was left vacant, and Niethammer subsequently offered the post to Hegel, writing:

The last time the French came through the city, the owner of the local newspaper released its editor, a French émigré, to accompany Marshal Davoust and, hoping for his return, temporarily gave the editorship to Bamberg’s Professor Täuber, who is doing such a marvelous job that he has all but tolled the paper’s death knell. This circumstance, in conjunction with the fact that the previous editor is not coming back, has prompted the newspaper’s owner, Mr. Schneidewind or Schneidewang28 or whatever his peculiar-sounding name may be, to seek assistance as quickly as possible.29

Niethammer was initially offered the post himself but turned it down because he already had too many demands on his time, instead passing the offer along to his friend Hegel.30 The editorship in Bamberg came to Hegel thanks to biographical twists and turns resulting from the Coalition Wars. As a resident of Bamberg, he witnessed further effects of the wars firsthand. By August 1808 at the latest, a large number of wounded French soldiers were accommodated in the city.31 The same month, Hegel informed Niethammer that Bavarian troops would be moving out and a “10,000-strong” French division would be stationed in the city.32

A fourth important contextual factor in Hegel’s experience in Bamberg was the rise of bourgeois society there since the 1790s, which provided new cultural opportunities in a city which had traditionally been dominated by the prince-bishop’s court and other administrative structures. The founding of the Bamberger Zeitung in 1795 is just one of several striking examples of these new developments. Informal weekly meetings of a group of local dignitaries (lawyers, doctors, businesspeople, prosperous artisans) led to the founding of a formalized club in 1792. The physician Marcus was one of the leading figures33 in the club, which was renamed the “Society of Local Dignitaries” in 1796 and then “the Harmony” in 1808. The club provided a sociable meeting place for Bamberg’s gentry and educated bourgeoisie. It accepted “all persons of rank, artists, businessmen, any respected citizens of a noble, moral character,” and had around two hundred members (including both men and women) during Hegel’s time in Bamberg.34 On New Year’s Eve 1808, the philosopher attended a costume party that Marcus held in honor of the district general commissioner, Count Friedrich Karl von Thürheim (1762–1832).35

Another milestone in the rise of bourgeois society was the founding of Bamberg’s theater. Three years after members of the Society of Local Dignitaries set up an amateur theater in 1797, the prince-bishop appointed Daniel Gottlob Quandt (1762–1815), from Leipzig, to establish a professional ensemble in Bamberg once the ongoing War of the Second Coalition was over. After Quandt’s troupe fell into financial difficulties, he was replaced in spring 1802 by the writer Julius Graf von Soden (1754–1831), who had worked with Gley and Marcus as coeditor of the Bamberger Zeitung and its supplement Charon. Soden purchased a property on Zinkenwörth (now Schillerplatz) and had it converted into a theater. In addition to performances of Soden’s own plays and dramas by the popular contemporary playwrights August Wilhelm Iffland and August von Kotzebue, the theater presented older popular works including Schiller’s The Robbers, Lessing’s Emilia Galotti, and Mozart’s operas.36 However, the running costs exceeded Soden’s means, and he was forced to sell the theater in February 1808 (i.e. while Hegel was living in Bamberg) to the innkeeper Anna Maria (Nanette) Kauer. Kauer refurbished the theater and Gesellschaftshaus (a venue for social and cultural events), but its financial situation remained precarious, and there was a frequent turnover of directors.37

3. Montgelas’s Man in Bamberg: Joseph du Terrail Bayard (1765–1815)

Niethammer, who was appointed Protestant school superintendent for Franconia in 1806, undoubtedly played the key part in arranging the editorship for Hegel, but the approval of Joseph du Terrail Bayard, one of the most influential Bavarian officials in the former prince-bishopric, was clearly significant as well. Niethammer, to whom Bayard initially offered the job, passed the offer to his friend Hegel “after reminding Privy Councilor von Bayard of the matter yesterday,” and Bayard himself took over the editorship until Hegel’s arrival.38 In his reply to Niethammer, Hegel signaled that he was interested in principle, and added, “It will be a very advantageous circumstance in this regard for me to deal with Privy Councillor von Bayard.”39 In Bamberg, the philosopher and the Bavarian civil servant were in regular contact. In July 1807, for instance, Hegel let Niethammer know that Bayard had asked after him.40 However, when political tensions ran high in Bamberg a month later—“Patrols have abounded in the city for several nights and days,” as Hegel wrote to Niethammer—contact with Bayard appears to have become more difficult:

I have not dared cross Mr. von Bayard’s path at such a time […] I gather that he withdrew from all the managing. Anyone who claimed to the people of Bamberg—you know how they are—that the district government showed much intelligence in operations that contradicted and canceled one another every hour would have gained the reputation among them of having a mania for paradox.41

In a letter to Niethammer from January 1808, Hegel described Bayard as having a “good head,” but

he is such a completely practical administrator that he has often explained to me that he puts no stock in theory if it does not have a so-called practical use. He shares the usual Bavarian ideas in other ways as well: that Bavarians have an excellent [basic] nature, and that it would not be easy to find elsewhere peasants with such native wit, and so on. This is the sort of reply one hears when the scientific standing, culture, and knowledge expected of every educated man come up for discussion, and when the lack of it in Bavaria is remarked. I told him on one occasion that Bavaria has been a real blot on the luminous painting that is Germany. He thought this was nothing but a self-conceit of Saxons or Protestants who do not want to hear of [Andreas] Lamey,42 the founders of the Academy, and so on.43

Hegel mentioned Bayard again in a letter to Niethammer in 1810, by which point Hegel had already moved to Nuremberg.44

An attempt to trace Bayard’s biography, of which no in-depth study has yet been published, reveals primarily that he was close to Bavaria’s leading statesman of the day, Maximilian von Montgelas (1759–1838). Bayard came from the County of Artois and is said to have completed part of his education in Paris, in addition to having been enrolled at the University of Ingolstadt as a student of logic between 1783 and 1785.45 According to the historian Joachim Heinrich Jäck, he subsequently entered the service of Duke Charles II August of Palatine-Zweibrücken (1746–1795), whose brother would later become Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of Bavaria.46 From the early 1790s onwards, Bayard worked as a secretary at the Palatine-Bavarian embassy to the Franconian Imperial Circle in Nuremberg, and in 1792 he became editor of the Teutsche Ministerialzeitung (renamed Deutsche Staats- und Ministerialzeitung in 1793), a Nuremberg newspaper opposed to the French Revolution.47 In 1794, Bayard received permission from the Palatine-Bavarian elector to wear the uniform of a lieutenant à la suite.48 His duties in Nuremberg included “monitoring attempts by foreign powers to recruit deserters and subjects of the principality, and buying military gear and other items back from them,” in addition to carrying out covert recruitment for the Eleventh Palatine-Bavarian Fusilier Regiment.49

Between 1794 and 1798, Bayard regularly supplied Montgelas—who at that time was living in Ansbach as secretary to the exiled Duke of Zweibrücken (the later Maximilian IV Joseph) and working on reforms of the Bavarian civil service50—with information about the affairs of the Franconian Circle and messages that arrived in Nuremberg from Paris and Vienna. In March 1795, for instance, he reported on the election of Georg Karl Ignaz von Fechenbach zu Laudenbach (r. 1795–1808) as Prince-Bishop of Würzburg. He also sent Montgelas excerpts from French newspapers.51

Karl August von Hardenberg (1750–1822), Prussia’s leading statesman in Franconia, evidently took notice of Bayard’s talents, recruiting him into Prussian service and even sending him on a diplomatic mission to Paris.52 After Bayard had, according to his own words, “served under three royal ministers […] in Prussia,” he returned to Bavarian service in 1800,53 when he was appointed to a post in the foreign ministry. Upon taking up the office in February, he received a special allowance of three hundred gulden.54 In his new role, Bayard attended meetings of the Bavarian state council, established in 1799, where he took positions on a variety of issues and presented several rescripts.55 Given Bayard’s earlier work for the Teutsche Ministerialzeitung in Nuremberg and Hegel’s later appointment in Bamberg, it is notable that, in a state council meeting on March 10, 1802, Bayard presented a draft rescript on a matter relating to press affairs that outlined the conditions under which the Duchy of Berg’s privy councilor Johann Anton Mannes should be permitted, subject to certain conditions, “to transform his Düsseldorf gazette into a general advertiser for the Duchy of Berg.”56

Following his final state council meeting in October 1802,57 Bayard was appointed director of the first deputation of the Würzburg district government in 1803, making him the highest-ranking Bavarian official in the former bishopric after Count Thürheim, general commissioner for the Franconian principalities.58 In June 1803, Elector Maximilian IV Joseph promoted Bayard to the rank of full privy councilor “in recognition of our exceptional satisfaction with his services.”59 In early October 1805, he met in Würzburg with the commissaires des guerres of the first and second corps of the Napoleonic army in his capacity as the Bavarian representative to negotiate arrangements for supplying French troops in Northern Franconia.60 According to Jäck, Bayard met his wife the same year while performing administrative duties in Ansbach.61

While Bayard resided in Würzburg, artists such as the painter Johann Martin von Wagner (1771–1858) sought his patronage,62 and he socialized with Schelling (who was a professor in Würzburg between 1803 and 1806), his wife Caroline, and Meta Forkel-Liebeskind, all of whom were also acquainted with Hegel. In May 1806, for instance, Caroline wrote to Schelling that Bayard had told her “about a letter from Liebeskind to you” that, because it had been “addressed to him,” had “traveled halfway through Germany before finally reaching you.”63

In 1808, Bayard was appointed chancellor of the Main district, with its seat in Bamberg. The post came with an annual salary of 2,600 gulden, making him Bavaria’s second-highest government representative in the district after general commissioner Stephan Freiherr von Stengel (1750–1822), who collected a salary of 6,000 gulden.64 In fall 1810, Bayard moved to Ansbach to take up the post of district chancellor for the Rezat district,65 but in 1814—one year before his death—he is once again referred to as district chancellor in Bamberg. He died in Ansbach at the age of fifty.66

In sum, Bayard was a civil servant who clearly enjoyed the trust of Montgelas and, after several years of service in the state council, was one of the most influential officials in Bavaria’s new Franconian territories from 1803 onwards. He also had a particular interest in press matters and actually worked as a newspaper editor at several points. Although Hegel described him as a pragmatic “administrator,” he appears to have also cultivated friendships with artists and intellectuals in both Würzburg and Bamberg.

4. Aristocrats, Academics, and Army Officers

In a letter to Niethammer’s wife Rosine Eleonore in late May 1807, Hegel concisely summed up their mutual Bamberg acquaintances:

I meet Fuchs at times. I see the Bengels67 at times while taking a walk. The tea circle is not as organized during the summer. I am frequently at Ritter’s […] and at Mrs. von Jolli’s. I also frequent Diruf’s house. […] I have been made acquainted with the Countess Rotenhahn68 as well. She is a particularly respectable woman, and her daughters are likewise as natural and good-natured as they are educated and full of talents.69

A look at the biographies of the individuals mentioned in this passage reveals that they were mainly scholars and army officers and their wives who, like Hegel himself, had only been in Bamberg for a short time. The Protestant theologian Karl Heinrich Fuchs (1773–1847) came from a Huguenot family in Heidelberg. After attending school and university there, he accepted a pastorate in Wachenheim an der Haardt in the Palatinate in 1796. Three years later, he became a Reformed military chaplain in Carl Philipp Joseph von Wrede’s (1767–1838) Electoral Palatine-Bavarian Brigade. He came to Würzburg in 1803 with the army of Lieutenant General Friedrich Wilhelm zu Isenburg during the bishopric’s secularization. There he worked as a Protestant pastor—first for military personnel, later for all the city’s Protestant residents—and consistorial councilor. In 1804, the local university awarded Fuchs a doctorate and gave him a temporary post as professor of theology. Like Bayard, Fuchs moved from Würzburg to Bamberg in 1806, after Würzburg became capital of the newly formed Grand Duchy of Franconia. In 1807, he married Friederike Vogel, the daughter of a treasury official from Bayreuth.70 After serving in Bamberg as pastor of the newly opened Protestant church of St. Stephan’s and as a consistorial councilor, Fuchs moved to Regensburg in 1810 to take up a post as dean. He subsequently spent a period in Ansbach before ending his career in Munich as senior consistorial councilor and second preacher [zweiter Hauptprediger]. A eulogy printed after Fuchs’s death in 1847 said that he had devoted himself to the “uniquely difficult task” of establishing Protestant worship in Bamberg “with prudence, intelligence, noble dignity, and firm resolve.”71

Like Bayard’s, Fuchs’s career took numerous unexpected turns due to the upheavals of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. Moreover, like Bayard, he played a part in integrating the secularized Franconian bishoprics into the Bavarian state. Hegel mentions Fuchs several times in his correspondence.72 In July 1807, the philosopher commented on the pastor’s wife: “Young [Miss] Fuchs’s father [Karl Heinrich Fuchs] has a splendid garden and hothouse in Bayreuth, but his daughter’s hothouse warm feeling in Bamberg perhaps does not meet with a similarly hot embrace by others.”73 In January 1808 Hegel wrote to Niethammer, “The local Protestant Church will be opened in a week. [Karl] Fuchs is having an invitational text printed. I have just read the proofs.”74 Hegel also refers to the grave illness of the Fuchses’ eldest child in one of his letters.75

The “Mrs. von Jolli” whom Hegel mentions several times in his correspondence with obvious admiration76 was born Marie Eleonore Alt. Although originally from Bamberg, she married an army officer from elsewhere and left the city with him a few years later. Her husband, Ludwig (Louis) Jolly (1780–1853), came, like Fuchs, from a Huguenot family in the Palatinate; his father was the pastor of a Walloon church in Mannheim. At the age of fifteen, Ludwig Jolly joined an Electoral Palatine-Bavarian fusilier regiment and embarked on a military career. In 1803, he was posted to the garrison in Bamberg, where he met the seventeen-year-old Marie Eleonore, a Catholic registrar’s daughter. He married her in October of the following year. Jolly returned to war in 1805, and in 1806 came back from the War of the Fourth Coalition with the rank of captain. In 1808, their first daughter was born, and they spent half a year in Nuremberg. The following year, he left the army and returned with Marie Eleonore (now pregnant again) to his native Mannheim, where he later became mayor and a successful businessman.77

Karl Jakob Diruf (1774–1869), with whose family Hegel was on sociable terms, was likewise a native of the Electoral Palatine, and his name again suggests Huguenot ancestry. Diruf studied philosophy and medicine in his home city of Heidelberg before practicing in Heilbronn. Later, he served as a doctor in the Austrian army and became a prosector78 at the veterinary school in Munich. He also taught at Munich’s medical school and trained orderlies at the Herzog-Josephs-Spital. Subsequently he accompanied the Bavarian crown prince (the later Ludwig I) on trips to Landshut, Göttingen, Italy, and France. In late 1805, Diruf was posted to Bamberg as medical councilor and junior physician with responsibility for medical and charitable institutions.79 He took over from Kilian as deputy to the aforementioned Marcus.80 It did not take long for relations to cool between Diruf and his superior. In 1807, a row broke out with Marcus and the committee responsible for supervising Bamberg’s hospital, because Diruf refused to compile monthly statistics on the patients.81 As a result, Marcus threw his weight behind his nephew Karl Moritz Marc (1784–1855) and tried to have him replace Diruf. In a petition to the Bavarian Interior Ministry in September 1807, Marcus claimed that “medical councilor Diruf’s behavior suggests he himself wishes to be posted elsewhere.”82 Despite this, Diruf retained the post for the time being, although he mainly worked in the psychiatric institute and hospice to avoid further conflict with Marcus. Diruf also taught at the Bamberg medical and surgical academy, and, when this was reorganized into a school for country doctors in fall 1809, he was given responsibility for teaching anthropology, zoology, physics, and public health [Staatsarzneywissenschaft].83 In January 1810, he moved to the Grand Duchy of Würzburg, where he worked as a general practitioner, medical councilor, and spa physician in Bocklet.84 Another point of interest in the present context is Diruf’s publication of a work on natural explanations of meteorites [Ideen zur Naturerklärung der Meteor- oder Luftsteine] in Göttingen in 1805, a topic that Hegel later addressed in his lectures on the philosophy of nature.85

Hegel’s circle of acquaintances in Bamberg was thus made up of well-educated individuals who rarely settled in one place for long and whose path of migration brought them to Bamberg during the tumultuous period between 1802 and 1810. In late 1807, this group expanded to include a married couple whom he described as a “new acquisition” for the city: the lawyer and flute virtuoso Johann Heinrich Liebeskind (1768–1847) and his wife Sophia Margarethe Dorothea, known as Meta (1765–1853). The daughter of the Göttingen theologian Rudolph Wedekind had already had an eventful life by this point: having separated from her first husband, the music scholar Johann Nicolaus Forkel, after a brief marriage, Meta Liebeskind had a year-long affair with the poet Gottfried August Bürger, who afterwards scornfully referred to her in letters and poems as Furciferaria (a reference to the Latin furcifer, a fork fitted around the necks of slaves in ancient Roman times, combined here with sexual overtones). Beginning in the late 1780s, she translated numerous works from English and French, including Constantin-François Volney’s Les Ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (1791), Thomas Paine’s political treatise Rights of Man (1792), and William Godwin’s novel Caleb Williams (1795). During the Republic of Mainz (1792/93), she moved in the circles of leading Jacobins, including Georg Foster and her brother Georg Wedekind. Because of these personal ties, she was imprisoned for a period after the republic’s fall. In 1794, she married Liebeskind, two years after she had given birth to his son in the village of Vorra in the parish of Frensdorf, not far from Bamberg. The child was christened Adalbert Joseph Anton, and his godparents are listed as the Bamberg physician Marcus and Joseph Sippel, a pharmacist, city councilor, and professor of natural science at the University of Bamberg.86 The Liebeskinds lived in Riga, Königsberg (1794), and Ansbach (1797), before moving in spring 1807 to Bamberg, where Johann took up a post in the judiciary.87

Hegel wrote about Meta in a letter to Niethammer (in which he presumed that the free-spirited author and translator would “not be unknown” to his friend):

Her friendship with Mrs. [Caroline] Schelling might perhaps—depending on one’s judgment of the latter—add some timidity to one’s curiosity to get to know her. She seemed good-natured to me, and he is indeed quite a charming man. The manners and culture of the rest of Bamberg are perhaps not completely suited to this family, and are perhaps even somewhat opposed to it. So I am all the more inclined to think I will find an interesting, free and easy circle of friends here.88

Meta had known Caroline Böhmer-Schlegel-Schelling, the daughter of the Göttingen orientalist Johann David Michaelis, since her youth. They had lived together during the time of the Republic of Mainz, and Meta had visited her in Jena in 1797 en route from Königsberg to Ansbach, and later in Würzburg in 1804. The record of this second visit shows that she was acquainted with Bayard as well.89

For a while, close personal relations developed between Liebeskind, his wife, and Hegel. “The Liebeskinds are a great acquisition for me,” Hegel wrote to Niethammer on July 8, 1807, “I visit almost no other house.”90 A month later, the philosopher informed his friend that “a few days ago I played a game of l’hombre with the Countess [Julie] von Soden hosted at Mrs. Liebeskind’s.”91 However, Liebeskind was transferred to Munich in late 1807, so their personal contact with Hegel lasted only a few months.92

The handful of Catholic families that Hegel associated with included Georg Franz Pflaum (1778–1807) and his wife. Pflaum and his father, Matthäus Pflaum (1748–1821), a privy councilor and judicial official who rose to prominence as a criminal law reformer in the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg in the 1790s,93 were also friends with Niethammer. Georg Pflaum’s career began under the last prince-bishop of Bamberg, Christoph Franz von Buseck. In the court almanac of 1796, Pflaum is listed as a canon [Domicellar] at the collegiate chapter of St. Stephan.94 He was promoted the following year, and later became privy councilor [Hofrat] and junior treasury counsellor [zweiter Kammerkonsulent]. On September 2, 1802, he married Barbara Schlehlein, daughter of the senior civil servant Johann Georg Albert Schlehlein, in a ceremony at the cathedral presided over by the prince-bishop himself.95 After secularization, the Bavarian government appointed the ambitious young lawyer to the position of judge.96 However, Hegel’s acquaintance with Pflaum was only brief, for on May 2, 1807, just two months after his arrival in Bamberg, Pflaum passed away. The records of the parish of St. Martin’s list the cause of death as “gout and inflammatory fever.”97

Hegel immediately passed news of the death to Niethammer:

Pflaum died but two hours ago. This news—which I did not want to delay sending you, dear friend, since I know how much this family interests you—will surprise you as well, since no one expected it. His father told me that the day before yesterday he wrote you convinced that Pflaum felt better—a conviction shared by doctors, acquaintances, and even the patient himself. The illness was a painful gout moving about in the members. He suffered from it greatly, and his wife no less.98

In a letter to Niethammer’s wife composed four weeks later, Hegel again referred to the unexpected death and gave a detailed account of the young widow’s grief.99 Pflaum had been treated by the physicians Marcus and Johann Philipp Ritter (†1813), both of whom were also personally acquainted with Hegel. According to Jäck, Ritter had introduced the young Marcus (who converted from Judaism to Catholicism in 1781) into Bamberg society, and remained friends with him until his death.100 In a letter to Niethammer in August 1807, Hegel wrote that he enjoyed the “occasional glass of wine after dinner with the honorable Privy Councillor [Johann Philipp] Ritter.”101

5. Complex Relationships: Hegel, the Pauluses, and Adalbert Friedrich Marcus

As we have seen, most of Hegel’s acquaintances in Bamberg were, like himself, outsiders who were only living in the city for a few months or years as a temporary stepping-stone in their careers. Another example of this pattern is the Protestant theologian Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus (1761–1851) and his wife Karoline. The Pauluses, who, like Hegel, were natives of Württemberg, merit more detailed attention than Hegel’s other acquaintances for two reasons: Firstly, they had first met each other in Jena102 and subsequently in Nuremberg and Ansbach.103 Secondly, Karoline had had an affair with Marcus in Bad Bocklet in summer 1801, which led to her becoming pregnant. Although August Wilhelm, born in spring 1802, was raised in the Paulus household, both mother and father knew that he was Marcus’s son.104 The family moved to Würzburg—at that time under Bavarian rule—in 1803, where Paulus assumed the post of professor of theology at the university (an appointment that Marcus had a key part in arranging).105 Things became thorny, however, when Würzburg temporarily regained its status as an independent territory, and Paulus was transferred to Bamberg of all places. Paulus was originally supposed to be given a post at the University of Altdorf, but the district general commissioner Count Thürheim, unimpressed by Paulus’s accomplishments in Würzburg, prevented this. Instead of the professorship, Paulus received the office of consistorial councilor and educational superintendent in Bamberg.106

The Pauluses moved into Marcus’s home on Lange Straße in central Bamberg in summer 1807.107 This created a very delicate situation, since not only did Marcus’s wife live there, but also her cousin, with whom Marcus had also had an illegitimate son in 1802. Consequently, Marcus began looking for a second house.108 Staying in Marcus’s home evidently opened up some promising career opportunities for Paulus, for in August 1807 Hegel wrote to Niethammer: “The Pauluses are connected through Marcus and the wife of the Commercial Councilor with one branch of the [District] President’s [Stengel’s] family.”109 The “wife of the Commercial Councilor” was Juliana (Esther) Stieglitz (1765–1834), the widow of Marcus’s brother, the Russian commercial councilor Nathan Marc,110 who died in Bamberg in 1801. Her second marriage (in 1810) was to the widowed district general commissioner Stephan von Stengel, who this passage from the letters suggests she was already close friends with in 1807.111 Alongside Bayard, Stengel was one of the most influential Bavarian officials in the Main district.112 Marcus gave a New Year’s party in his honor at Bamberg’s Feast of St. Michael in 1808, which Hegel also attended.113

Hegel evidently hoped his acquaintance with Paulus would bring him financial benefits, too. In late August 1807, he wrote to Niethammer that he had heard that the king had “earmarked 300,000 florins for education, of which 45,000 florins are to fall to the province of Bamberg. I have suggested to Paulus that he should get hold of some of it for me as well, since I also belong in education.” However, the next line indicates that he regarded the theologian as more of an abstract theorist than a practical organizer: “The only question is whether he is sufficiently in command of the empirical side to do so.”114

After the departure of the Liebeskinds, the Pauluses appear to have been one of the central nodes of Hegel’s social network in Bamberg. Alluding to their shared roots in Württemberg and time together in Jena, he wrote to Niethammer in November 1807 that “no people anywhere can compare with those of Jena, and especially with the Swabians of Jena. Just do not whisk Paulus, too, away from here in the organizational shuffle.”115 In a letter to Johann Sulpiz (Melchior Dominikus) Boisserée (1783–1854)—an art collector and friend of Hegel—in August 1808, Dorothea Schlegel (1764–1839) also spoke of the friendship between these two Swabian scholars who had ended up in Bamberg together:

Hegel lives in Bamberg and writes the local newspaper; he spends every evening at Paulus’s house, and since, although I was silent in company, my objections must have been written all over my face, Paulus and Hegel had a conversation with me in a more select circle in which I disputed all manner of things and revealed my thoughts.116

In September 1808, however, it seemed that Paulus would be leaving Bamberg. “Paulus has recently been on the road for school and curriculum inspections,” Hegel wrote to Niethammer,

I am sure the trip showed what an impact a good example can have. He has had occasion to visit Nuremberg with his wife and is impatiently awaiting something in the offing there. […] There is a real earthquake going on here. No one stands fast in his present position. Anyone who has not just been appointed is about to leave, wants to leave, or fears having to.117

A month later, in a letter to Karl Ludwig von Knebel (1744–1834),118 a poet and translator living in Weimar, Hegel wrote regretfully that “the acquaintances I had here, especially Paulus, are being once more dispatched elsewhere in the [mis]organizational shuffle. Paulus will go to Nuremberg as School Councilor; others are off in other directions.”119 However, on October 26, 1808, Hegel was informed by Niethammer (whose reforms have left their mark on the Bavarian school system to this day) that he had been nominated as rector of the gymnasium in Nuremberg and was to begin work there the following week. In the new role, he would be “implementing reforms to the gymnasium under District School Councilor Paulus’s instruction.”120 Consequently, Hegel was at least able to maintain this contact—one that was of particular interest due to his relationship with Karoline, which may have been intimate in nature (though it is impossible to say for certain based on the available evidence).121

6. Observations on the Nature of Hegel’s Bamberg Network

In a 1979 essay, Wolfgang Reinhard observed that urban elites are “not primarily constituted by their members’ possessing the same social attributes, but through the social entanglement [Verflechtung] of these members, which enables, facilitates, and channels interactions.”122 Reinhard identified “four categories of personal relations that play a key role as potential bearers of interaction, for it can be shown that ‘networks’ of such relations have enabled not just solitary transactions but the formation of groups.” These four relations are kinship, common regional origin, friendship, and patronage.123

If we analyze Hegel’s network in Bamberg in terms of these categories, kinship clearly played no role (unlike in the next chapter of his life in Nuremberg, where he married Marie Helena Susanna von Tucher, a member of one of the city’s leading patrician families124), but common origin, friendship, and patronage were indeed significant factors. Hegel shared a common regional origin (in Protestant Württemberg) with his main correspondent, Niethammer and with the Pauluses. It is also striking that most of Hegel’s central acquaintances in Bamberg were Protestant, and that several of them (Fuchs, Jolly, Diruf) came from the Electoral Palatinate, a southwest German region to which the Swabian Hegel may have felt a closer affinity than to Catholic Franconia. In any case, when Hegel received the offer from Bamberg in early 1807, he was still hoping for an appointment at the University of Heidelberg.125

Friendship was definitely an important category in Hegel’s network in Bamberg. He maintained his friendships both by correspondence (especially with Niethammer) and by socializing in person; it is notable that he befriended both men and women.126 In his study of correspondence between Würzburg professors around 1800, Clemens Tangerding found that friendships were not cultivated simply for their own sake, but always had an instrumental and strategic character as well:

In the scholars’ correspondence, friendship manifests itself […] as an appeal to inaugurate or to continue mutual aid. It is striking how often professors proclaim friendship to colleagues when they are asking their addressee for something or granting the other person’s request.127

Hegel was not the only one cultivating contacts for the sake of his future career; Paulus, to give one example, can also be observed behaving in a very similar way.

The final category, patronage, was one of the most important social relations in the early modern society of estates,128 and it continued to play a key role in the politically turbulent period around 1800. It was politically influential men like Bayard and the district general commissioners Thürheim and Stengel who decided on the promotions and postings that determined the course of people’s careers. With respect to finding patronage, Hegel again appears to have corresponded and kept company with the right people.

One thing that is striking is the transitory nature of Hegel’s network. Reading his Bamberg correspondence, one has a sense not of a permanently settled group, but of constant comings and goings. Civil servants were frequently relocated due to Bavaria’s wide-ranging bureaucratic reforms in the wake of secularization and mediatization, while clergymen like Fuchs and doctors like Diruf pulled up stakes after a few years to take up more lucrative posts elsewhere. Hegel likewise saw Bamberg as a mere temporary stopping point: by his own admission, the editorship there was a way of

reaching Bavarian ground and soil at least temporarily, and of having my shoes in it even if not yet my feet. Since this engagement does not bind me to a definite time, in Bamberg I can doubtless for the moment pursue private study and discharge my obligations at the same time.129

In this context of high geographic mobility, letters were a crucial method of maintaining relationships between different locations.130 This mobility was also a key reason why the scholars and civil servants that this article has focused on did not develop long-lasting ties to Bamberg and its inhabitants;131 for them, the old seat of the Franconian bishopric, reduced in 1803 to the status of a provincial Bavarian town, was merely a temporary stop along the way to a more lucrative or appealing career opportunity.



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  • Regierungsblatt für die Churbayerischen Fürstenthümer in Franken, vol. 1, no. 24. June 1803.

  • Staats- und Address-Handbuch der Staaten des Rheinischen Bundes für das Jahr 1811. Weimar, 1811.

This article is a translation and was originally published in German as:

Mark Häberlein and Michaela Schmölz-Häberlein. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegels Bamberger Netzwerk, in Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte 81 (2018), 627-655