Georg Ludwig Von Maurer

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Maurer, Georg Ludwig Von


Born Nov. 2, 1790, in Erpolzheim, near Diirkheim; died May 9, 1872, in Munich. German historian; creator of the mark, or communal, theory. Professor of law at the University of Munich (from 1826).

Maurer held high posts in the judicial system in Bavaria. From 1832 to 1834 he was a regent under the Greek king Otto of Bavaria. From February to November 1847 he was the de facto head of the Bavarian government, occupying the posts of minister of foreign affairs and minister of justice. He was a member of the Bavarian State Council. Maurer’s political sympathies were with constitutional monarchy, which he believed should be based on the age-old German communal principles.

According to Maurer, the point of departure in the history of the German people was a social order in which collective ownership of land and collective working of the land predominated. There was no state, and the functions of administering public affairs were carried out by communal (mark) organizations founded on equality and equal rights for all freemen. The collapse of the Roman Empire and the migration of the German tribes marked a shift to the permanent working of parcels of communal land by individual families who received them for their use; these parcels gradually became the property of the families. At the same time, the communal organizations preserved supreme ownership rights over all the land. In the process of social differentiation of free commune members, hereditary estates developed; these gradually swallowed up the allotments of common freemen, who lost their personal freedom as well. Although he noted the active assistance that royal authorities gave to the growth of hereditary estates, Maurer also saw in the monarch a natural ally of the free communes. Only when this alliance was destroyed did the hereditary estate finally subjugate the commune; and then the German kings lost their social base.

The founders of Marxism pointed to the great scientific value of Maurer’s demonstrations that at the dawn of their historical development the Germans had a predominantly communal organization and collective landownership. They also noted the weak sides of his method—the mixing of historical evidence from different ages and an underestimation of the role of violence in history.


Geschichte der Markenverfassung in Deutschland. Erlangen, 1856.
Geschichte der Fronhöfe, der Bauernhöfe und der Hofverfassung in Deutschland, vols. 1-4. Erlangen, 1862-63.
In Russian translation:
Vvedenie v istoriiu obshchinnogo, podvornogo, sel’skogo i gorodskogo ustroistva i obshchestvennoi vlasti. Moscow, 1880.


Marx, K., and F. Engels Soch, 2nd ed., vol. 19, pp. 320-45, 403, 417; vol. 21, pp. 96, 140; vol. 32, pp. 36-38, 41, 43; vol. 35, pp. 105-107, 308, 349, 379.
Danilov, A. I. Problemy agrarnoi istorii rannego srednevekov’ia v nemetskoi istoriografii kontsa XIX-nacH. XX v. [Moscow, 1958].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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