Theodor Mommsen

Theodor Mommsen

Theodor Mommsen, the son of a Protestant minister, was born in Garding, Schleswig-Holstein, on 30th November, 1817. He studied law and classics at Kiel (1838-43) and the Berlin Academy (1844-47).

Mommsen eventually became professor of law at Leipzig. He also became editor of the Schleswig-Holsteinisch Zeitung. However, his involvement in the revolution of 1848-49 resulted in him being dismissed from his post in Leipzig.

In 1852 Mommsen was appointed as Professor of Roman Law at Zurich. He also held a similar post at the University of Breslau. In 1858 Mommsen became Professor of Ancient History at the University of Berlin. He also held the position of secretary of the Prussian Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1882 Mommsen was tried and acquitted on a charge of slandering Otto von Bismarck.

Mommsen was an expert on Roman inscriptions and this laid the foundations for a study of Roman government, administration, economics and finance. His most important works include the three volume The History of Rome (1854-56). Mommsen's critics claimed that in this work he hero-worshipped Julius Caesar. Mommsen held liberal political views and in 1882 was tried and acquitted on a charge of slandering Otto von Bismarck.

As well as editing Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum Mommsen published over 900 books and articles. This included The Provinces of the Roman Empire (1885), the three volume Roman Constitutional Law (1870-1888) and Roman Criminal Law (1895).

Theodor Mommsen died in 1903.