Johann Jakob Bachofen

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bachofen, Johann Jakob


Born Dec. 22, 1815, in Basel; died there on Nov. 25, 1887. Swiss legal historian.

Bachofen laid the foundations for the study of the history of the family. In his work Matriarchal Law (1861) and others he put forth the thesis of the universal historical development of primitive mankind from an original promiscuity (“heterism”) to matriarchal and later to patriarchal law. Bachofen erroneously viewed the evolution of religious ideas as the basis of this development. After criticizing and rejecting Bachofen’s idealistic ideas, K. Marx and F. Engels made use of his work in creating a materialistic conception of primitive history.


Engels, F. “Proiskhozhdenie sem’i, chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21.
Kosven, M. O. Matriarkhat: Istoriia problemy. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
En ambitos marxistas se aceptaba, con poco espiritu critico, la tesis (mito) de la existencia de un matriarcado prehistorico (esta idea aparece en el mismo Engels y en autores como Johann Jakob Bachofen y Lewis Henry Morgan, August Bebel).
In 1861, Johann Jakob Bachofen, a conservative Swiss jurist and expert on Roman law, claimed to have found evidence that prehistoric human societies were matriarchal, meaning that women held familial, political, and religious power in the distant past.
Myth, matriarchy and modernity; Johann Jakob Bachofen in German culture, 1860-1945.
For example, the notion of a monument 'more lasting than bronze' is repeatedly attributed to Horace (twice within one chapter); and in Chapter 4, the 'pupil of Johann Jakob Bachofen' whose lectures Rilke attended in Munich is identified as Alfred Schuler (p.