Karl Lamprecht

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lamprecht, Karl


Born Feb. 25,1856, in Jessen; died May 10, 1915, in Leipzig. German historian of the liberal positivist school. Professor at the University of Leipzig from 1891.

Lamprecht’s first major work, Economic Life of Germany in the Middle Ages (1885–86), placed him among the leading German historians. In treating the socioeconomic history of Germany, Lamprecht’s starting point was essentially the patrimonial estate theory, although he also ascribed much importance to the Mark (commune). In his multivolume German History (1891–1909) he sought to provide a comprehensive picture of the development of the German people, emphasizing the history of culture in the broad sense, including economics and social relations. His criticism of the methodological principles of the Ranke school stimulated methodological discussions among German historians in the 1890’s.

Lamprecht interpreted the historical process as a lawlike evolutionary development, primarily taking the form of cultural progress as embodied in the nation. Maintaining that the collective and not the individual must be the object of study, he considered the development of the social psyche to be the primary moving force of history. According to Lamprecht, the historically changing types of social psyche determine the character of different periods in the history of culture. He offered his theory of the “cultural-historical era” as an alternative to the Marxist category of the “socioeconomic formation.” Lamprecht gave ideological support to the imperialist expansion of the German Empire and was active in the Pan-German League.


Deutsches Wirtschaftsleben im Mittelalter, vols. 1–3. Leipzig, 1885–86.
Deutsche Geschichte, vols. 1–12. Berlin, 1891–1909. Supplement, vols. 1–3: Berlin, 1902–04.
In Russian translation:
Istoriia germanskogo naroda, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1894–96.


Danilov, A. I. Problemy agrarnoi istorii rannego srednevekov’ia v nemetskoi istoriografii kontsa XIX-nach. XX vv. [Moscow, 1958.]


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