Johann Georg Schlosser

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Johann Georg Schlosser
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Born(1739-12-07)December 7, 1739
DiedOctober 17, 1799(1799-10-17) (aged 59)
Alma mater
  • University of Jena
  • University of Altdorf
  • Lawyer
  • Historian
  • Politician
  • Translator
  • Philosopher

Johann Georg Schlosser (December 7, 1739 — October 17, 1799) was a German lawyer, historian, politician, translator and philosopher. He is most known for having married Cornelia Schlosser, née Goethe, the sister of famous German playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.[1]


Johann Georg Schlosser was born in Frankfurt am Main, the son of Carl Erasmus Schlosser (1696-1773), a lawyer and member of the city council of Frankfurt who came from an influential Protestant family, and Susanna Maria (1703-1789), née Orth, who came from a well-known merchant family.[2] He had a brother, Hieronymus Peter, who, like his father, became a local politician.[3]

During his school years, Schlosser showed an interest in classical languages and contemporary literature. In 1758, he began studying law at the University of Jena, later continuing his studies at the University of Altdorf.[4] After he completed his studies in 1762, he returned to his hometown to become an attorney-at-law.[3]

In 1766, he began working as a secretary for Frederick II Eugene, Duke of Württemberg, who would later become the Duke of Württemberg, in Treptow an der Rega in Pomerania (now: Trzebiatów, Poland), where the latter was stationed as the general of a Prussian Army.[5]

In 1769, Schlosser returned to Frankfurt. In 1771, he published his first political and philosophical essays.[4] His proposols stood in contrast to those advocated by the state and the chItalic texturch at the time, therefore making him well-known among the country's Age of Enlightenment intellectuals.[3]

In 1773, he moved to Emmendingen, where he continued to publish his political and philosophical proposals, while working as civil servant at the Margraviate of Baden in Karlsruhe.[4] In 1774, Schlosser began working at the Magraviate of Hochburg (Emmendingen), where he was particularly committed to social and agricultural reforms. He also promoted mining and supported the construction of factories. In his reform efforts, he was frequently at odds with his sovereign, Margrave Karl Friedrich of Baden, and his government in Karlsruhe.[5]

Shortly before moving to Emmendingen, Schlosser married Cornelia Goethe. The marriage was happy at first. However, Cornelia, who had received the same classical education as her brother, soon felt trapped in the small, provincial town of Emmendingen and in the role expected of her as a housewife and mother.[6] On December 28, 1774, their first daughter, Maria Anne Louise, nicknamed Lulu, was born.[7] Cornelia was in poor health following complications while giving birth.[6] On May 10, 1777, their second daughter, Catharina Elisabeth Julie, nicknamed Juliette, was born.[8] Cornelia died only four weeks later, on June 8, 1777, at the age of only 26.[9]

In 1778, Schlosser married Johanna Fahlmer (1744-1821), a trusted friend of Goethe during his Sturm und Drang years.[10] With her, he had another daughter, Cornelia Henriette Franziska, born September 7, 1781[11] and a son, Georg Eduard, born on January 29, 1784.[12]

During his time in Emmendingen, Schlosser maintained contacts with fellow intellectuals and thinkers in southwestern Germany, Switzerland, and Alsace, including Johann Caspar Lavater, Isaak Iselin, Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel and Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz.[13]

His scriptures were often controversial, as he again and again criticized the clergy, leading to some his writings being banned and even burned in Frankfurt. He was also frequently critical of the political decisions of his own superiors in the government.[5]

Around 1782, Schlosser became a member of the Illuminati, where he was known under the names Dion, Mahomed and Euclides, and later also of the Freemasonry, in both of which organizations he was active in in various positions and cities. During the 1780s, Schlosser frequently traveled to Switzerland and also spent some time in Vienna.[5]

In 1787, Schlosser moved first to Rastatt, and then, in 1790, to Karlsruhe. Due to increasing conflicts with the markgravial government and his superiors, he was suspended from service in 1794.[3] In 1793, his second daughter Juliette died at the age of 16 in Heidelberg.[8] After a short stay in Ansbach, Schlosser moved to Eutin in northern Germany in 1796.[3] There, his oldest daughter Louise married Georg Heinrich Nicolovius (1767-1839), a Prussian official from Königsberg (now: Kaliningrad, Russia).[7]

In Eutin, Schlosser worked as a scholar, conversing with fellow thinkers such as Johann Heinrich Voß or Friedrich Leopold zu Stolberg-Stolberg.[3] During this time, Schlosser harshly criticized Immanuel Kant, one of the most influential philosophers of that time, describing Kant's philosophical ideas as out of touch with life, reason-heavy and ethically questionable.[5] This led to him in turn being heavily criticized by Kant's followers, such as Friedrich Schlegel.[3]

During his life, Schlosser also made a name for himself as a translator, translating works from authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, Thucydides, Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes, Homer and Kallimachos into German.[5]

In 1797, he moved back to Frankfurt to once again become an attorney-at-law, eventually working for the city council, where he mostly dealt with the city's foreign policy. Schlosser died in 1799 at the age of 59.[14]


  1. "Allgemeinbildung | Wissenstest | Lexikon | Wörterbücher | Suche auf". Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  2. "Hessian Regional History Information System (LAGIS) : LAGIS Hessen". Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Biographie, Deutsche. "Schlosser, Johann Georg - Deutsche Biographie". (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Hessische Biografie : Einfache Suche : LAGIS Hessen". Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 "Johann Georg Schlosser -". Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Cornelia Goethe". (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Louise Schlosser". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Katharina Elisa Julie Schlosser". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  9. "GEDBAS: Cornelia Friederike GOETHE". Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  10. "Johanna Katharina Sibylla Schlosser". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  11. "Cornelia Henriette Hasenclever". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  12. "Georg Eduard Fahlmer". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  13. Müller, Peter (1998), Dahnke, Hans-Dietrich; Otto, Regine (eds.), "Schlosser, Johann Georg (1739–1799)", Goethe Handbuch: Band 4/2 Personen, Sachen, Begriffe L–Z (in Deutsch), Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, pp. 958–960, doi:10.1007/978-3-476-03656-8_108, ISBN 978-3-476-03656-8, retrieved 2021-01-24
  14. "Schlosser Johann Georg". (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2021-01-24.

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