Large complete universal lexicon of all sciences and arts

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Title page of Zedler's Universal Lexicon (1731–1754)

The large, complete universal lexicon of all sciences and arts appeared in Halle and Leipzig between 1731 and 1754 and comprises around 63,000 pages, making it the most extensive encyclopedic project in Europe in the 18th century . Around 284,000 alphabetically ordered entries are listed in 64 volumes and a further four supplement volumes . The individual articles are linked by around 276,000 references , although many references lead nowhere. The 64 volumes of the original edition, bound in parchment and 34 to 36 centimeters high, cover a distance of 4.30 meters.

As the detailed title suggests, the lexicon aims to record all known knowledge from all subject areas. The title lists 33 areas of knowledge that form three major classes: biography (around 120,000 entries), geography (73,000) and specialist knowledge (91,000). The Universal Lexicon was published by the bookseller and publisher Johann Heinrich Zedler (1706–1751), after which it is often called Zedlersches Lexicon or just Zedler , from 1731 (for the Leipzig Michaelis Fair). On September 13, 1730, Zedler had already applied for a privilege to protect against the reprint of his planned universal dictionary from the Electoral Saxon government. Today it is known that the majority of the articles have been plagiarized . Accusations of this kind were made against the publisher Zedler when the dictionary was published. From 1737 the work was in the hands of the Leipzig merchant Johann Heinrich Wolf (* 1690).


Employee anonymity

The names of Zedler's employees are largely unknown. In the preface to the first volume, they are presented as the “nine muses ” who, as specialists in various areas of knowledge, are responsible for the articles from these areas. The announcement that the employees would be named upon completion of the plant was not implemented. It is doubtful that the number of employees was actually only nine because of the more than 20 years of creation, and probably more authors contributed to the lexicon. Because of the plagiarism allegations against Zedler (see the plagiarism section ), it would be interesting to identify the employees. On the other hand, in the 18th century it was perfectly normal for lexicographers to remain anonymous; It was not customary to identify individual articles by name, even if other employees in addition to the editor had also written the lexicon. This seems to have been the case with all major lexicon projects since the 18th century. However, the Universal Lexicon is the first work that was created in the equal collaboration of several scholars, who probably worked largely autonomously, and not under the guidance of just one author who was assisted by unnamed helpers. Another innovation is that the division of labor was not organized alphabetically, but the work areas of the muses were divided according to topic. As a result, a “sensible distribution of the work among skilled workers [achieved]”. Nevertheless, there was apparently no detailed "editorial concept, so that lemmas that had the same meaning , which were inevitably torn apart by the alphabetical order, were not linked to one another". This was probably due to the size of the project and the time it took to complete it. Little is known about the identity of employees. So far only the main editors and a few informants are known. It is likely that all the editors were "closely connected to the universities of Halle and Leipzig". The main editors who coordinated the work on the lexicon were:

Almost nothing is known about other employees. Heinrich Winkler is certain as the author of "most medical articles", Friedrich August Müller is "with great probability" the author of articles on philosophy. Lorenz Christoph Mizler (1711–1778) wrote mathematical articles according to his own statement. In the dispute about the publication of the lexicon, Johann Heinrich Rother and Johann Christoph Gottsched were named as collaborators by other publishers. Both publicly commented on this and submitted a declaration in which they stated that they had not written anything for the "Zedler".

The employees as "muses"

The designation of the employees as “muses” not only ensures the authors anonymity and personal protection from allegations of plagiarism. Nicola Kaminski sees this as a well-considered concept to keep the plagiarism allegation away from the entire work. Through the talk of the muses, which runs as a leitmotif through the prefaces from volume 1, the discussion about copying the “Zedlerian muses ” is shifted from the field of legal disputes about violations of privileges “to the field of poetry and the liberal arts”. This also means that Johann Peter von Ludewig (1668–1743) does not speak of “unauthorized reprinting, violation of privileges” in the first preface, but rather of “originals / copies” or “imitating” (see section The programmatic prefaces ). Copying is thus “legalized” by legitimizing it with the poetological tradition of imitation and the imitatio discourse.

Historical context

See also: History and Development of the Encyclopedia # Systematic Compendia of All Sciences and Arts

Lexicons and encyclopedias with a similar claim

Long before the 18th century, many encyclopedic works had a claim comparable to that of the Universal Lexicon , namely to collect and systematize comprehensive knowledge from all areas of science. As a rule, however, they were not written in the vernacular but in Latin, and were therefore aimed exclusively at a group of universal scholars . Even in Zedler's time there were works of this kind, such as the Lexicon Universale Historico-Geographico-Chronologico-Poetico-Philologicum by Johann Jakob Hofmann (1635–1706) or the equally powerful, extremely successful Encyclopaedia Cursus Philosophici by Johann Heinrich Alsted (1588–1638), which, however, was not yet organized alphabetically.

Lexicons on the book market in the early 18th century

The Universal Lexicon was not the first alphabetically ordered encyclopedic work in the German language. The prototypes of the alphabetically arranged German-language conversation lexicon are the Real State and Newspaper Lexicon , known as " Hübner's Lexicon", and Johann Franz Buddeus ' (1667–1729) General Historical Lexicon (first edition Leipzig 1709). Particularly in the area of ​​particular lexicons, i.e. lexicons limited to one subject, the number of works on the market increased by leaps and bounds in the first half of the 18th century: in 1741 Johann Friedrich Gleditsch's publishing house alone had 20 different lexicons in Program. "Lexicons or encyclopedic works were evidently a literary genre with which business [sic] could be done, accordingly there was no lack of competition between the publishers" ( Schneider :), which may be one of the reasons why the universal Lexicons met with considerable opposition.

Lexicons as translations

However, many German-language lexicons of the 18th century were translations of French or English works that were revised and expanded according to the needs of a German readership. For example, Buddeus' Allgemeine Historisches Lexicon (1709) was based on Louis Moréris (1643–1680) encyclopedic work Le Grand Dictionaire Historique and Pierre Bayles (1647–1706) Dictionnaire historique et critique , published in 1674 . The Real State and Newspaper Lexicon ("Huebners Lexicon") (1704) also consists largely of translations, but this is not referred to in the foreword as in the General Historical Lexicon . These translations were essentially just as plagiarized as the Universal Lexicon (see section on plagiarism ), but by appearing in a different language, they did not represent competition on the book market: “Access to foreign-language lexicons protected against litigation, and national ones Coloring brought the customers. So it was the local and not the foreign dictionary publishers who attacked Zedler with allegations of plagiarism. Zedler defended himself with the argument that the copied products were themselves compilations and that no one from the French publishers of the original works had complained. "


Goal setting

The title page of the universal lexicon, originally planned as a twelve-volume work, according to Ludewig, in its detailed description is still in the tradition of the end of the Baroque period . The term "universal" denotes the claim to completeness of content. Although the Universal Lexicon was not the first German-language lexicon, it was revolutionary in its conception: the knowledge of individual scientific and non-scientific areas previously collected in specialist lexicons was to be brought together in one work. The services of the Universal Lexicon are therefore primarily in its scope and the equal representation of specialist knowledge as well as general knowledge. The official objective is stated to be “to promote the absorption and spread of learned sciences”. This coincides with the aim of the Enlightenment in general: “As one of the best means of disseminating knowledge and thus promoting happiness, the representatives of the Enlightenment appeared to be the edition of encyclopedic works that cover the entirety of the sciences or individual disciplines in a compact form convey it to the reader. ”In contrast to the conversation lexicon, which was created for the interested but not specially trained reader, the universal lexicon primarily aims to address the learned layman. The scientific function should be in the foreground. In this context, Carl Günther Ludovici speaks of planning a systematic register in order to be able to present knowledge in a certain order. Despite this scientific focus, the Universal Lexicon , as the title suggests, had a universal claim, in the sense that all knowledge known at the beginning of the 18th century should be recorded. In the preface to the first volume, it is expressly pointed out that the universal lexicon not only represents academic knowledge, but also aims to cover everyday areas of knowledge such as handicrafts, housekeeping or trade. For this reason, a broader range of knowledge is represented in the universal lexicon than would be expected from a lexicon today (see also section Problems with the selection of the knowledge to be recorded ).

The programmatic prefaces

Sample page from the preface to “Zedler” (1731); the marginalia serve as subheadings

The 16-page preface to the first volume was written by the lawyer Johann Peter von Ludewig and contains explanations of the overall plan of the work, the circumstances in which it came about and the legal situation prevailing at the time. In Volume 19, Carl Günther Ludovici introduces himself as the new editor. Further prefaces follow in Volumes 21 and 23 and suggest that prefaces were planned in every second volume. In these, Ludovici talks about fundamental considerations regarding the meaning of the lexicons. Improvements, additions, announcements and notifications follow. Specifically, Ludovici aims to put the articles in a more balanced relationship to one another and to make the references more extensive. In particular, the historical articles should be expanded. Ludovici not only demands the names of the writers, but above all the writings they have written. The z. He would like to avoid the sometimes excessive length of some articles and the theological articles should no longer have a sermon-like form. What is new is the requirement to list living notables, scholars and artists in the lexicon. Because of this extensive undertaking, Volume 19 encourages readers to submit articles themselves, which was extremely unusual for the time. Furthermore, Ludovici calls for the improvement of genealogical and geographical articles, because the lexicon should always be up to date (see also section The networking of knowledge and obsolete knowledge ).

Type and scope of the articles

The articles use the Fraktur , Antiqua (for Latin texts) and italic fonts . If one compares individual articles with one another, one finds quantitative disproportionalities. The longest article in the Universal Lexicon is Wolffian Philosophy with 349 columns. In the same volume there is another article about Christian Wolff (1679–1754) himself with a length of 128 columns. These differences in scope can be explained by the fact that the project of the Universal Lexicon was initially not so large-scale. This can be clearly seen from the fact that the first twelve letters are dedicated to 18 and the remaining 14 letters to 46 volumes. In the first volumes in particular, the articles are still quite confusing, simply because there are no visible subdivisions, either from a factual or a formal point of view. The references do not follow at the end of the article, but are distributed throughout the text. This makes it quite difficult for the reader to find specific information within the article. However, the article design changes over time. There is a breakdown according to historical and systematic access. Roman numerals divide the text and first headings are used. In addition, the bibliographical references are now condensed at the end of the article. The portrayals of people in particular have changed. Over time, a distinction is made between a biography and a literature section. There is also a clear shift in the center of gravity. In contrast to communications about individual living conditions, habits and family relationships, authors now focus on their writings. The literary work seems more important than the person behind it. In addition to German terms, the Universal Lexicon has an abundance of Latin keywords and, somewhat less often, Greek terms. It turns out that the technical language of the respective individual discipline is often adopted because the universal lexicon wanted to meet scientific requirements. There is a tendency to determine: the later a volume is published, the less often the articles are under the Latin keyword, unless the Latin expression has been used in the technical terminology. The development towards more and more references, in order to lead the searcher to the article in every possible way, is clearly noticeable, as is the tendency towards more and more vernacular language; this is particularly evident in personal names. These are first latinized, later reproduced in the respective national language.

Priority setting

The focus can be found in the areas of geography, genealogy , biography and philosophy. In the preface to Volume 32, Carl Günther Ludovici emphasizes the importance of genealogy and pedigree . The proportion of biographical articles is much higher compared to modern general reference works. The biographies are z. T. to their limits. So people are mentioned, of whom only the title of a work is known and communicated. From volume 19, living people are also listed. Notable exceptions are Johann Peter von Ludewig, who wrote the preface to the first volume of the Universal Lexicon , and the editor Carl Günther Ludovici; both were already included in volume 18. There is also an article on Louis XV. to be found (vol. 18, from column 872). In the field of philosophy it can be stated that the presentation is based on Wolffian philosophy; this applies to both the text in the articles and the selection of keywords. In the second part of the lexicon, terms appear that only became relevant in philosophical terminology through Wolff's German writings.

Dedication policy

Zedler's major projects such as the Universal Lexicon required the support of the ruling nobility. As Zedler himself and his competitors knew, the most important support was the protection against reprint in the form of printing privileges . From Emperor Charles VI. Zedler got a privilege for the Reich for the Universal Lexicon . In return, the first volume was dedicated to him and his wife Elisabeth Christine . The second volume (1732) is dedicated to Friedrich Wilhelm I , who granted him a privilege for Prussia as King in Prussia ; This is where Halle , a crucial printing location for the publication of the Universal Lexicon , was located, to which Zedler had to move after he had been denied the coveted privilege of the Electorate of Saxony and thus Leipzig , the most important publishing town in the early 18th century . With Anna Ivanova , Tsarina of Russia (Volume 4, 1733), the King of Great Britain George II (Volume 5, 1733) and Louis XV. , King of France (Volume 6, 1733), the monarchical prominence, also beyond Europe, is represented in the following volumes. The son of Friedrich Wilhelm I received two dedications, once as the Prussian Crown Prince (Volume 13, 1735) and then in Volume 25 (1741) when he became King of Prussia as Friedrich II . These magnificent-sounding names of the monarchs who went beyond Europe with Russia served to convince the reader that this was a lofty project of international prestige. The other volumes are dedicated to princes and nobles from Saxony and the surrounding area and should probably secure local support for the Universal Lexicon . The official reaction of the Leipzig publishers to the appearance of the Universal Lexicon shows how important this is .

Visualizations in the universal lexicon

The visual representations in the Universal Lexicon are already quite sparse at first glance. This finding is not surprising if one observes the conceptual notes from Ludewigs in the preface to the first volume. There he reproduces the key term “Lexicon” as “dictionary”. The focus is clearly on a textual representation. The following visualizations can be found in the Universal Lexicon :

  • Function diagrams

This form is most commonly found in the Universal Lexicon . The diagrams are mainly limited to simple geometric figures and usually do not contain more than ten printed lines. Often you can find these directly in the column , they are rarely shown separately with their own numbering. Basically, such diagrams are used sparingly and are simply designed. An exception to this is the illustration for the “Reichs-Tag in Germany”. It is particularly interesting here that the seating arrangement of the members is to be visualized with the help of this scheme. The demand for an exact reproduction, which also includes the hierarchy of the individual professional representatives, is clearly present.

  • Illustrations

Factual illustrations, which have the task of clarifying objects through their representation, can be found for the first time in Volume 18. The handling of these illustrations is striking. They are made compatible so that they can be included in the column. These are not own productions, but rather takeovers from Christian Wolff's (1679–1754) work All kinds of useful experiments, thereby paving the way for a more precise understanding of nature and art (3 vols., Hall 1721–1723). In relation to the entire work, these illustrations are rather a rarity.

  • Pedigree charts and family trees

Pedigree tables and family trees are by far the most striking representations in the Universal Lexicon . They are added to the individual articles in the form of fold-out panels. This is no longer just a schematic illustration, but a z. Sometimes ornate presentation they get an aesthetic quality.

  • Dedication boards
Graphic at the beginning of the section on the letter "A" in "Zedler" (1732)

Between 1732 and 1750, each volume has an impressive dedication board on which the person to whom the volume is dedicated is depicted. This was a common practice at the time, intended on the one hand to increase awareness of the publication and on the other to secure the printing privilege.

  • Copper engravings

All volumes open the main lexicographical section with an engraving. With regard to the motifs, mythological and allegorical figures can be identified in the pictures . The representations are also enriched with symbols that come from the field of scientific activities. A total of 15 different motifs can be recognized, which are initially used without regularity and then from the 27th volume on with greater regularity. From then on, a new motif is chosen after every fourth volume.


Official response

Even before he applied for privileges for Prussia and the Reich, Zedler applied for the Universal Lexicon on September 13, 1730 for a privilege for Electoral Saxony at the Upper Consistory in Dresden, the Electoral Saxon government. The Leipzig publishers Gleditsch and Fritsch Erben appealed against Zedler's application. They themselves had some particular lexicons on the market and were afraid that Zedler would have them copied. Fritsch, for example, was concerned that Buddeus would copy the General Historical Lexicon (1726) that he had published, for which he had a ten-year privilege. This objection was granted and Zedler was banned from printing and selling in Saxony if he copied from the Historical Lexicon , a violation of this would result in a fine of 300 thalers and the confiscation of the volumes printed up to then. Zedler was granted two printing privileges for the Universal Lexicon in 1731 , but only for Prussia and for the Reich, not for Saxony. When he appeared with the first volume at the Michaelmas Mass in 1731, the entire edition was confiscated. However, thanks to the Prussian privilege he achieved that he only had to pay a "reduced" fine of 100 thalers and was allowed to deliver to his electoral Saxon prenumerants from Halle. In 1732 Zedler had the first volume printed again together with the second volume (then again in 1733) in order to be able to deliver to the prenumerants after all. Fritsch and his heirs complained again, this time submitting a twenty-page list of approximately 3,600 copied articles. Due to the legal steps taken by his competitors, Zedler had no choice but to switch to Halle, where Johann Peter von Ludewig , author of the preface to the first volume, was not only Chancellor of the university, but also director of the orphanage printing house where Zedler's work was produced was until it was later partly printed again in Leipzig.

Due to the increased production costs in financial need, Zedler announced on March 7, 1735 that he wanted to hold a book lottery . However, the book lottery did not provide the necessary money either, so that he finally had to pawn volumes 13 and 14. When he was threatened with bankruptcy, Johann Heinrich Wolff took over the further financing (and management) of the Universal Lexicon in 1737 .

The project benefited from the fact that Fritsch's privilege to the historical lexicon expired in 1738 and the authorities no longer stood in the way of printing and open distribution in Saxony. The Saxon Book Commission even took Zedler's side when volumes 17 and 18 of the Universal Lexicon were reprinted by Johann Ernst Schultze from Hof.

Unofficial response

It starts with a bogus advertisement in the Lower Saxony Newspapers of Scholarship on December 19, 1730. There a “prenumeration fraud lexicon” is announced, published by the notorious fictional publisher Pierre and Peter Marteau . Referring to Zedler and his lexicon, albeit without direct mention, most of the later allegations appear here in a condensed form. They are taken up by several polemics in the years 1732/33. Zedler is accused that the prenumeration, that is, the subscription obligation of buyers of the entire work associated with prepayment , is fraud, since Zedler cannot keep the announced volume of eight volumes and so a financial "additional payment" would be due. Zedler is not a trained bookseller and his muses are not scholars, but rather "collectors who write out". They are "bunglers" who want to make a name for themselves by copying "other people's costs".

In 1732 the first unofficial reaction to the unheard-of undertaking appeared in the form of a pasquill : Die Charlatanerie Der Buchhandlung, which caused its decay through botch-up, praenumerationes, auctiones, reprints, junk-leyes, etc. on promoted. Examined impartially by two people who were eager to act . The allegations already in the advertisement are further elaborated here and provided with examples. The universal lexicon is "carefully written together from other lexicis". In addition to the historical lexicon of Buddeus, Zedler's muses would have written out "the musical, heroic and heroine alike, the mythological and many other lexica". Even the first article on the letter "A" is a compilation of the Historical Lexicon and the General Lexicon of Arts and Sciences by Johann Theodor Jablonski. The Charlatanerie also states that although "reprinting with express words has not been forbidden in any laws, neither in the Jure Civili nor in Canonico", it is not regulated by law, nevertheless it is "a foregone conclusion that any book should be who makes it peculiarly entitled ”.

The polemic published in 1733 discovered one sincere patriots Unpartheyische Gedancken some sources and Wirckungen of decay of ietzigen book action, Wherein insonderheit the Betrügereyen of books-Pränumerationen, and at the same time proved, That the unauthorized reprint unprivilegirter books an all rights zuwiederlauffender theft sey takes the allegations of the two previous writings again. Although it is still focused on Zedler and his lexicon, it expands the rudimentary legal argumentation already existing in the charlatanerie with a claim to general validity.

Unlike the official reaction of the books Commission and upper consistory, the latest in 1738 with the expiry of Fritsch's privilege to the Historical Lexicon and the prohibition of reprinting of the Universal Lexicon by Johann Ernst Schultze ended, the discussion was about the emphasis in the polemics on. The Universal Lexicon itself took the first step since 1733. In the article Reprint of their books in Volume 23, the content of the reprint is condemned. However, the article itself is a reprint, namely chapters 19 to 29 from the Impartheyischen Gedancken .

This, in turn, is seized by the polemic Unpartheyisches Doube , published in 1742, which is clearly stated and proven from all natural, divine and human civil and criminal rights and laws; that the unauthorized reprint of privileged and unprivileged books is a gross and disgraceful crime, contrary to all divine and human rights and laws, and infamous theft (published in Cologne by "Peter Marteau"!) again. As the first of the polemics, she deals with the reprint alone and not only condemns it with legal arguments in terms of content, but also takes up the "emphasis gesture" of Zedler's muses in a performative manner by being a reprint from the impartial thoughts and the article reprint of their books. However, none of the polemics had verifiable legal consequences. They are valuable, however, as they provide (not exactly impartial) evidence that and how the Zedlerian muses plagiarized and to what extent contemporary readers were already aware of this.

Today's meaning

"Zedler" in some of the covers of the time ...
... and in what is now a university library in a 1964 reprint

Today the universal lexicon is mainly used as a historical source, which, due to its conception, provides reasonably precise information about the level of knowledge in different areas that can be assumed for the end of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century. In addition, the study of this first large lexicon in German shows which conceptual innovations, but also which legal, financial and publishing-political problems such a project brought with it. It is noticeable that many questions and problems with which the publisher Zedler had to struggle in the first half of the 18th century are becoming more topical today in the age of digitization and the dissemination of knowledge on the Internet. "Lexicons and encyclopedias of the early modern period stand for trust in the power of knowledge", this observation shows how topical the concern with the universal lexicon is today in the so-called information age, because the question of "trust in the power of knowledge" is more relevant today than ever.

Division of labor and specialization of the individual authors

The Universal Lexicon is the first lexicon that expressly does not come from a scholar, but was created through the collaboration of several authors. For the 18th century it is a completely revolutionary idea that not a universal scholar, a so-called polyhistor , systematizes his knowledge, writes it down and thus makes it accessible to others, but that many employees each contribute their special knowledge to a large project. In addition, readers are asked several times to contribute to the lexicon by submitting articles, especially articles on people and places. This enables an understanding with the audience. "What will be an essential step out of the tradition of learned knowledge management is the encyclopedia as a collective enterprise, as a division of labor into the abundance of knowledge." In this way, the Universal Lexicon demonstrates the principle of a "far-reaching, now really public knowledge management" .

"Democratization of Knowledge"

The Universal Lexicon is not written in Latin, but in the vernacular German and is therefore aimed at a broad target audience instead of a small group of Latin-speaking scholars. Since the lexicon, as we know today, has taken over a large part of its information from other lexicons literally, that is, plagiarized it, it was able to appear at a very low price and has thus found a very wide distribution. Therefore one can speak of a “democratization of knowledge”, since knowledge was made accessible to a broad mass for the first time. For this reason, the concept of the Universal Lexicon was in line with the essential aims of the Enlightenment (see also the Objective section ).

Problems in choosing the knowledge to be recorded

Working with the articles of the Universal Lexicon shows that the selection of lemmas, the design and the content of the articles are still very inconsistent or, from today's perspective, strange. Since the step from the technical lexicon to the universal lexicon has created the claim to really record all knowledge, one can also find cooking recipes or alchemical knowledge or superstition in the universal lexicon, for example. For example, under the heading “Cancer, Latin Cancer” there is not only a detailed description of the animal, but also several recipes and tips on how a cancer can be prepared. On the other hand, the Universal Lexicon also recorded living people for the first time, which is to be regarded as unusually modern. This shows that in the first half of the 18th century it was not yet clearly defined which information belongs in an encyclopedic work and how an encyclopedia entry must be meaningfully designed and structured. The question of relevance was therefore not yet finally answered.

The networking of knowledge and obsolete knowledge

Particularly under the editorship of Carl Günther Ludovici, great importance is attached to the reference structure within the lexicon, so that knowledge is presented in a user-friendly way, i.e. organized alphabetically, and is linked to one another to the greatest possible extent (“linked”). The aim is to network knowledge, which from today's point of view still looks primitive, but actually at least anticipates current forms of knowledge network through its conception. Due to the desired breadth of knowledge (including the inclusion of living people), the universal lexicon soon faced the equally modern problem that knowledge quickly becomes out of date. This problem, it seems, was not in the consciousness of the authors or the publishers. This is one of the reasons why the Universal Lexicon was less influential than some smaller projects in the long run, despite its forward-looking conception and structure. Advancing technology has brought decisive advantages here, since even very large amounts of knowledge can be kept up to date with relatively little effort.


With the appearance of the Universal Lexicon, the question of plagiarism was particularly controversial . Today we know that the accusations against Zedler were not without reason, since a large part of the lexicon is made up of "plagiarism": "The universal lexicon is a gigantic compilation effort from largely unexplored sources." The indexing of the lexicon is not yet ready advanced that it could be said exactly which other lexicons were plagiarized. It can be considered certain that the following lexicons have been incorporated:

The fact that the Universal Lexicon was able to be fully realized from other works and the legal difficulties associated with them, despite extensive text adoptions (on which in part, often striving for improvement, was closely based) is mainly due to the fact that it did not develop any in the 18th century There was a copyright regulation and the anonymity of the authors was preserved. Conceptually, the project of the universal lexicon faced a problem that ultimately all lexicons face, since they have to fall back on other sources for the (as complete as possible) collection of knowledge. This problem is still relevant today, but the complete labeling of literal or analogous adoptions has now established itself as a scientific standard.

See also


  • Elger Blühm: Johann Heinrich Zedler and his lexicon . In: Yearbook of the Silesian Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Breslau 1962, pp. 184–200.
  • Martin Gierl: Compilation and the Production of Knowledge in the 18th Century . In: Helmut Zedelmaier, Martin Mulsow (ed.): The practices of erudition in the early modern times . Niemeyer, Tübingen 2001, ISBN 3-484-36564-1 , pp. 63-94. (= Early Modern Times , Volume 64)
  • Ulrike Haß: Process of source processing in Zedler's Universal Lexicon of All Sciences and Arts (1732–1754). In: Michael Prinz, Jürgen Schiewe (eds.): Vernacular science communication . De Gruyter, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-11-047695-8 , pp. 169–188.
  • Fritz Juntke: Johann Heinrich Zedler's Large Complete Universal Lexicon: A Contribution to the History of Reprinting in Central Germany . In: Writings on the library and library system in Saxony-Anhalt , Issue 15, Halle 1956, pp. 13–32.
  • Nicola Kaminski: The Muses as Lexicographers. Zedler's “Great Complete Universal Lexicon” at the intersection of poetic, scientific, legal and economic discourse . In: Daphnis 29 (2000), pp. 649-693.
  • Bernhard Kossmann: German universal lexica of the 18th century. Their essence and their informational value, illustrated using the example of the works of Jablonski and Zedler . In: Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel 24/89, Frankfurt am Main 1968, Sp. 1553–1596.
  • Bernhard Kossmann: German universal lexica of the 18th century. Their essence and their informational value, illustrated using the example of the works of Jablonski and Zedler. In: Börsenblatt for the German book trade - Frankfurt edition. No. 89, November 5, 1968 (= Archive for the History of Books. Volume 62), pp. 2947-2968, especially pp. 2952-2966.
  • Joachim Krause: The German book trade. Brief history and organization . Publishing house today, Düsseldorf 1975.
  • Andreas Müller: From conversation lexicon to encyclopedia: The Zedlersch Universal Lexicon in the course of its printing history . In: The eighteenth century 43.1 (2019), pp. 73–90.
  • Ines Prodöhl: From the best scribes. Zedler's 'Universal Lexicon' in the field of tension in contemporary lexicon production . In: The eighteenth century 29.1 (2005), pp. 82–94.
  • Werner Raupp : Zedler, Johann Heinrich . In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 26, Bautz, Nordhausen 2006, ISBN 3-88309-354-8 , Sp. 1576-1588. (Contains, among other things, a selection of the works published and supervised by Zedler.)
  • Ulrich Johannes Schneider (Ed.): Knowing his world: Encyclopedias in the early modern period. Catalog for the exhibition of the Leipzig University Library and the Herzog August Library Wolfenbüttel . Primusverlag, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3-89678-560-5 .
  • Ulrich Johannes Schneider, Helmut Zedelmaier: Knowledge apparatus. The encyclopedia of the early modern period . In: Richard van Dülmen , Sina Rauschenbach (ed.): Power of knowledge. The emergence of the modern knowledge society . Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2004, pp. 349–363, ISBN 3-412-13303-5 (Cologne, Weimar); ISBN 3-205-77179-6 (Vienna).
  • Ulrich Johannes Schneider: The universal dictionary by Johann Heinrich Zedler or the Wikipedia of the 18th century . In: Gegenworte Heft 19 .
  • Ulrich Johannes Schneider: The invention of general knowledge. Encyclopedic Writing in the Age of Enlightenment . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-05-005780-4 .
  • Steffen Siegel: The picture on the edge. On the significance of the visual media in Johann Heinrich Zedler's “Universal Lexicon” . In: Robert Charlier (Ed.): Wissenswelten. Historical Lexicography and European Enlightenment , Wehrhahn, Hannover 2010, pp. 41–62. ISBN 978-3-86525-221-0 .
  • Zhengxiang Gu: On the image of China in Zedler's Lexicon: Bibliography of the works discussed in his China articles or cited as sources . In: Suevica. Contributions to Swabian literary and intellectual history / In mild and happy Swabia and in the New World. Contributions to the time of Goethe. Festschrift for Hartmut Fröschle . Akademischer Verlag, Stuttgart 2004 [2005], ISBN 978-3-88099-428-7 , pp. 477-506 (= Stuttgart works on German studies , no. 423).

Web links

Commons : Universal-Lexicon (Zedler)  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. full title:
    Great complete
    LEXICON of
    all sciences and arts,
    which bithero were invented and improved through human understanding and wit
    therein as well as the geographic-political
    description of the earth-Creyses, according to all monarchies,
    Käyserthuern, kingdoms, principalities, republics, free domains
    , countries, cities, sea ports, fortresses, castles, spots, offices, monasteries, castles
    , passes, forests, seas, lakes, islands, rivers and canals; including the natural treatise
    of the realm of nature, according to all heavenly, airy, fiery, watery and earthly bodies, and all the
    stars, planets, animals, plants, metals, minerals,
    salts and stones, etc.,
    as well as a detailed historical Genealogical message from the nobles
    and most famous families in the world,
    the life and deeds of the Käyser, kings, electors
    and princes, great heroes, state ministers, war colonels on
    water and on land, the most distinguished spiritual and secular
    knightly orders etc.
    Same of all state, war, legal, policey and household
    business of the aristocratic and bourgeois class, the merchants, trades,
    arts and crafts, their guilds, guilds and customs, shipping, hunting,
    fishing, mountain, wine, arable Building and cattle breeding etc.
    How no less the complete presentation of all
    old fathers, prophets, apostles, popes famous in the church stories e, cardinals, bishops, prelates and
    God scholars, as well as councils, synods, religious pilgrimages, persecution of the churches,
    martyrs, saints, sectarians and heretics of all ages and countries,
    Finally a perfect epitome of allergelehrtesten men, famous Universiactivities
    Academien, Societies and the discoveries made by them, as well as mythology, antiquities, Müntz science,
    philosophy, math, theology, jurisprudentiality and medicine, as well as all free and mechanical arts, including the explanation of all
    art-words occurring therein, etc.
    In addition to a preface, from the establishment of this laborious and large Werck
    Joh. Pet. Von Ludewig, JCti,
    Königl. Prussian secretaries and Magdeburg. Government and Consistorial-council, Cantz Jewelers bey of Vniversity, and the
    Juristen- Faculty Praesidis Ordninarii,inheritance and court-Lord on Bendorff, Pretz and Gatterstätt. Halle and Leipzig ( Wikisource )
  2. A photomechanical reprint was published from 1961–1964 by the Graz Academic Printing and Publishing House.
  3. Zedler's Great Universal Lexicon Online
  4. Cf. Schneider: Knowing his world . P. 58.
  5. ^ Bernhard Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century. 1968, p. 2953 f.
  6. Preface. In: Universal Lexicon. Volume 1, Leipzig 1732, columns 1-16 (here page 6).
  7. Preface. In: Universal Lexicon. Volume 1, Leipzig 1732, columns 1-16 (here page 15).
  8. Kaminski: The Muses as Lexicographers . P. 670.
  9. Cf. Schneider: Knowing his world . P. 127.
  10. See Kaminski: The Muses as Lexicographers . P. 650.
  11. ^ Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century . Sp. 1570.
  12. ^ Prodöhl: From the best scribes . P. 83f.
  13. ^ Prodöhl: From the best scribes . P. 87.
  14. See Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century . Sp. 1569f.
  15. ^ Schneider: The construction of general knowledge in Zedlers Universallexikon . P. 87 note 24, quotations ibid.
  16. ^ Prodöhl: From the best scribes . P. 91.
  17. ^ Prodöhl: From the best scribes . P. 89f.
  18. Kaminski: The Muses as Lexicographers . P. 670.
  19. Schneider points out that Hofmann's lexicon is a forerunner of the universal lexicon “in terms of its comprehensive claim” . Schneider: Knowing one's world . P. 75.
  20. Cf. Schneider: Knowing his world . P. 126.
  21. Knowing one's world . 2006, p. 134.
  22. Schneider: Knowing one's world . P. 131.
  23. Martin Gierl: Compilation and the production of knowledge in the 18th century . In: Helmut Zedelmaier, Martin Mulsow (ed.): The practices of erudition in the early modern times . Niemeyer, Tübingen 2001 (early modern times, 64), pp. 63–94. Here: p. 90.
  24. ^ Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century. 1968, p. 2956.
  25. ^ Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century . Sp. 1572.
  26. Dedication Preface. In: Universal Lexicon. Volume 9, Leipzig 1735, columns 1-16.
  27. Schneider: Knowing one's world . P. 125.
  28. ^ Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century . Sp. 1575.
  29. ^ Cf. Johann Peter von Ludewig: Preface. In: Universal Lexicon. Volume 1, Leipzig 1732, columns 1-16 (here page 6, § 13).
  30. ^ Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century . Sp. 1588 f.
  31. ^ Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century. Sp. 1586.
  32. See Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century. Sp. 1577 f.
  33. a b Cf. Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century. Sp. 1566 f.
  34. ^ Cf. Johann Peter von Ludewig: Preface. In: Universal Lexicon. Volume 1, Leipzig 1732, columns 1-16 (here pages 2-3).
  35. Cf. Schneider: Knowing his world . Pp. 171-179.
  36. Cf. Fritz Juntke: Johann Heinrich Zedler's Grosses Complete Universal Lexicon . P. 22.
  37. See Albrecht Kirchhoff: Reading fruits from the acts of the city archive in Leipzig . P. 199.
  38. Lower Saxony New Newspapers from Scholarly Things from December 19, 1730.
  39. Charlatanerie of the bookstore . P. 26.
  40. Charlatanerie of the bookstore . P. 49.
  41. Charlatanerie of the bookstore . P. 73.
  42. Charlatanerie of the bookstore . P. 74.
  43. ^ Reprint of their books. In: Universal Lexicon. Volume 23, Leipzig 1740, columns 60-80.
  44. See Kaminski: The Muses as Lexicographers . P. 690.
  45. ^ Schneider and Zedelmaier: Knowledge apparatus . Pp. 349-363. Here p. 349.
  46. ^ Schneider and Zedelmaier: Knowledge apparatus . P. 360f.
  47. ^ Cancer, Latin Cancer. In: Universal Lexicon. Volume 15, Leipzig 1737, column 1800-1811.
  48. This problem is pointed out in Schneider and Zedelmaier: Wissensapparate , p. 361.
  49. a b c Schneider: Knowing one's world . P. 9.
  50. Cf. Schneider: Knowing his world . P. 128.
  51. a b cf. Gierl: Compilation and Production of Knowledge , p. 87, note 85.
  52. ^ Bernhard Kossmann: German Universal Lexica of the 18th Century. Their essence and their informational value, illustrated using the example of the works of Jablonski and Zedler. In: Börsenblatt for the German book trade - Frankfurt edition. No. 89, November 5, 1968 (= Archive for the History of Books. Volume 62), pp. 2947–2968, here: pp. 2960 f. ( The sources ).
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on November 8, 2009 .