Georg Friedrich von Zentner

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Portrait of Georg Friedrich von Zentner

Georg Friedrich Freiherr von Zentner (born August 27, 1752 in Straßenheim (today in Mannheim ) , † October 20, 1835 in Munich ) was a German legal scholar and Bavarian statesman. Initially professor of constitutional law at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg , he joined the Bavarian ministerial bureaucracy in 1799 . In the Kingdom of Bavaria he was the managing director general in the Ministry of the Interior from 1810 and from 1823 to 1831 Minister of State of Justice , in 1827/28 he was also Minister Administrator of the State Ministry of the Royal House and Foreign Affairs . He was instrumental in drafting the Bavarian municipal edict and the Bavarian constitution of 1818 .


Zentner was born in Straßenheim in the Electoral Palatinate as the youngest member of a large Catholic farming family. Father Franz Zentner and the mother Maria Theresia, born in Heppenheim , was born. Steinbach, owned a sizable estate there. As a seven year old boy he came into the care of his eldest brother Franz, who had been a member of the Electoral Palatinate government in Mannheim since 1759 . A tutor prepared him to the Jesuit College in Heidelberg before, where, after four years of study at the seminary and at the Academy in 1770 after a disputation ex universa philosophia for Artium Magister was appointed.

He stayed in Metz for a year and a half to perfect his knowledge of French . There he met the radical, enlightening intellectual life of the country. He completed his studies in public law and history at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen with Johann Stephan Pütter , Georg Ludwig Böhmer , Heinrich Christian von Selchow , Gottfried Achenwall and Johann Christoph Gatterer , who shaped his secularized view of the state and history.
After a short practical course at the Imperial Court of Justice in Wetzlar, he was appointed Professor of Constitutional and Princely Law and Imperial History at the University of Heidelberg on May 14, 1777, probably on the recommendation of his brother Franz, who continuously promoted the career of his youngest brother .

Before taking up his teaching post, he received permission from Elector Karl Theodor to go on a two-year study trip, combined with government support of 600 guilders. He first returned to Göttingen to deepen his knowledge. Via Berlin, Braunschweig, Hanover, Wolfenbüttel, Leipzig and Dresden he came to Vienna, where he familiarized himself with the processes at the Reichshofrat . On the return trip to Heidelberg he obtained a doctorate in both rights at the University of Ingolstadt on April 8, 1779 and began teaching in the summer semester of 1779 under the title of a government councilor with lectures on constitutional law and the general history of the empire.

As a result, he took part in the Basel peace negotiations in 1795 and the Congress in Rastatt in 1797 as a privy councilor and member of the Palatinate Bavarian legation .

After Karl Theodor's death in 1799, he was appointed to the Ministry in Munich as a Real Privy Councilor in the Ministry of Spiritual Affairs. In 1807, he became State Councilor in the Ministry of the Interior under Maximilian von Montgelas . From 1808 onwards, as head of the education and instruction section in the Ministry of the Interior, he did a great deal to improve education and teaching and to promote popular culture. Transferred to the baron class in 1819, in the same year he became general director of the Ministry of the Interior , which he had in fact led since 1810, and then served as Bavarian Minister of Justice from 1823 to 1831 . From 1827 to 1828 he was also ministerial administrator of the State Ministry of the Royal House and Foreign Affairs . The Bavarian constitution with the religious edict of 1818 is almost entirely his work.

Since 1801 he was a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . In 1820 he was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the city of Munich . In 1776 he joined the Freemason Lodge Joseph in Wetzlar to the three helmets and became a member of the Strict Observance system . As such, in 1781 he was one of the founding members of the Worms Lodge Johannes zur Brotherliche Liebe . He was also involved in founding the Karl zum Reichsapfel Lodge in Heidelberg .


  • 1792 "Noble von Centner of the Holy Roman Empire Knight"
  • 1817 Appointment to the Real Council of State
  • 1818 Honorary Citizen of the City of Munich
  • 1818 Grand Cross of the Bavarian Order of Civil Merit
  • 1819 Elevation to the hereditary baron class
  • 1829 Order of Hubert for the 50th anniversary of service


Zentner was married to Christine von Hoffstadt since 1780. He had two children, Karoline (* 1782) and Franz (* 1789).


Zentner's estate is in the Bavarian Main State Archives in Munich. Part of the estate is in the Bavarian State Library.


  • Franz Dobmann: Georg Friedrich Freiherr von Zentner as a Bavarian statesman in the years 1799 - 1821. Kallmünz: Lassleben, 1962 (= Munich historical studies, department of Bavarian history. Volume 6).
  • Johann August Ritter von Eisenharthundredweight, Georg Friedrich Freiherr von . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 45, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1900, pp. 67-70.
  • Walter Schärl: The composition of the Bavarian civil service from 1806 to 1918 (= Munich Historical Studies, Department of Bavarian History, Volume 1). Kallmünz Opf. 1955, p. 118

Web links

Commons : Georg Friedrich von Zentner  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The estate of Georg Friedrich Freiherr von Zentner (1752-1835) . Retrieved March 28, 2020.