Hermann Grotefend

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Hermann Grotefend in 1920 at his desk in the New Archive in Schwerin

Ernst Heinrich Hermann Grotefend (born January 18, 1845 in Hanover , † May 26, 1931 in Schwerin ) was a German archivist and historian who is particularly known for his standard works on the calculation of the German Middle Ages and modern times .


Hermann Grotefend was the grandson of the orientalist and linguist Georg Friedrich Grotefend and the son of the historian and archivist Karl Ludwig Grotefend (1807–1874). His mother was Mathilde Grotefend (1811-1851), daughter of the domain tenant Jakob Lutteroth and Johanne Jakobine Sophie Bornemann. He graduated from summer semester 1864 at the University of Göttingen initially medicine , from summer semester 1867 then historical science. At the beginning of his studies he became a member of the Brunsviga fraternity in 1864 . In 1869/1870 he studied as part of an intermediate course in Berlin. His main academic teachers were Philipp Jaffé and Georg Waitz . On March 15, 1870, he received his doctorate with a study on the medieval historian Otto von Freising .

After completing his studies, he worked as an archive aspirant at the Royal State Archives in Breslau from April 1870 , where Colmar Grünhagen introduced him to practical archive work. On January 1, 1872, Grotefend was appointed archive secretary. In October 1874 he moved to the State Archives Aurich as acting director , and two years later in February 1876 to the City Archives Frankfurt am Main . There he organized the amalgamation of the diverse and scattered stocks of archive material on the city's history in the new archive building, which is already under construction. With effect from October 1, 1887, on the recommendation of Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg, he was appointed head of the Schwerin Secret and Main Archives , where he worked until his retirement on July 1, 1921 at the age of 76. On April 9, 1899, he was given the title of Secret Archives Councilor , and the year before his retirement he was appointed Archives Director. Grotefend made a particular contribution to the organization, user-friendliness and the organization of the required rooms. From 1887 to 1921 he was the first secretary of the Association for Mecklenburg History and Archeology .

Hermann Grotefend was married twice, from 1872 until her death in 1904 to Alice Ulrich, and from 1910 to Hedwig Brandis, née Unger, who died in 1919. From his first marriage he had three sons and two daughters. The son Otto (1873-1945) also became an archivist and historian, another son named Georg (1877-1914) died in the First World War . A daughter married the President of the Schwerin Post Office, Carl Heinrich Möller, in whose house Grotefend lived in the last years of his life.


Calculation of the German Middle Ages and modern times

In 1872 Grotefend published a “Handbook of the Historical Chronology of the German Middle Ages and Modern Times”, which was supposed to help historians deal with medieval and modern time calculations. In the years that followed, he expanded the materials contained therein to include new research findings and further research of his own. From 1891 to 1898, the extensive work "Calculation of the German Middle Ages and the Modern Era" was published in two volumes in the Hahnschen Buchhandlung Hannover. The first volume (1891) contains a glossary of more than two hundred pages on the terms used in historical chronology as well as various tables for calculating and converting data from various timekeeping systems. The second volume, which appeared in two sections (1892 and 1898), lists the extremely different calendars of saints that were in use in the dioceses and orders of the German-speaking area, and also contains a list of the saints worshiped with details of the venues and the respective places Holidays.

Since this new work was finally too extensive "to [...] serve the researchers in their daily use and to grant learners a safe introduction to chronological things", Grotefend published the "Taschenbuch der Zeitrechnung des Deutschen Mittelalter und der Neuzeit" in 1898. In it he dispensed with in-depth discussions of individual questions and geared himself towards the needs of the historian's practical work. After a systematic introduction, the “pocket book” contains an alphabetical directory of the holidays and chronological names, various lists of rulers and tables for data calculation.

Both the two-volume edition and the short version developed into standard works in the auxiliary historical sciences . The “Pocket Book of Time Calculation” in particular is still an indispensable aid to converting historical dates into modern ones (for example from the French revolutionary calendar , from medieval festival calendars or from the Roman calendar ). The new editions were usually accompanied by additions or revisions, which were made by his son Otto Grotefend after the death of Hermann Grotefend in 1931. After his death in 1948 an unchanged reprint of the last edition was published in order to be able to provide scientific working materials quickly in the post-war period. In 1950 the Lower Saxony State Archives became the official contact address for suggestions for improvements and additions to the work, which resulted in the revised 10th and 11th editions being published by State Archives Councilor Theodor Ulrich in 1960 and 1971, and in 1982 in the 12th edition updated by Jürgen Asch. In 2007 the “Pocket Book of Time Calculation” appeared in the 14th and so far last edition. In 2004, Horst Ruth made the two-volume predecessor “Zeitrechnung des Deutschen Mittelalter und der Neuzeit” available online in an HTML version with search functions and calculation algorithms.

Further publications

In addition to the chronological publications, Hermann Grotefend published short introductions to the science of seals ( sphragistics ) in auxiliary scientific papers in 1869 and 1875 . As a genealogist , he examined, among other things, the Silesian princely houses (1875), the noble family Oeynhausen (1889) and his own Grotefend family (1890–1909 and 1901). In his function as city archivist in Frankfurt am Main, he began to publish the inventories of the local archive, the first volume of which he completed in 1888 after he left for Schwerin.

The studies of the history and historiography of the Holy Roman Empire , which Grotefend had dealt with in his doctoral thesis from 1870, were of little importance in his further research. Instead, a new focus of his work was regional and state history , which was reflected in various publications, particularly on the history of the city of Frankfurt am Main and the state of Mecklenburg . In addition to his own writings, these were especially the editorships of important periodicals, in Frankfurt the “Mittheilungen des Verein für Geschichte und Alterthumskunde in Frankfurt am Main” (1879–1885) and the “ Archives for Frankfurt's History and Art ” (1881–1884), in Schwerin "Yearbooks of the Association for Mecklenburg History and Archeology" (1888-1919). In addition, he took part in the revision of Anton Horn's "History of Frankfurt am Main" for the second edition (1882) and gave the (but only two volumes comprehensive) series "Sources for Frankfurter Geschichte" (1884-1888) as well as significant parts of the Mecklenburg record book (1890-1907) out.

Fonts (selection)

A complete list of publications is attached to the obituary for Hermann Grotefend in the "Mecklenburgische Jahrbücher" (see bibliography).

  • The value of the Gesta Friderici imperatoris of Bishop Otto von Freising for the history of the empire under Friedrich I. Hahnsche Hofbuchhandlung, Hanover 1870 (dissertation).
  • Handbook of the historical chronology of the German Middle Ages and modern times. Hahnsche Hofbuchhandlung, Hanover 1872.
  • About sphragistics. Contributions to the structure of document science. Joseph Max, Breslau 1875.
  • Family tables of the Silesian princes up to 1740. Joseph Max, Breslau 1875 (2nd edition 1889).
  • Christian Egenolff, the first permanent book printer in Frankfurt a. M. and its predecessors. K. Th. Völcker, Frankfurt am Main 1881.
  • The confirmation certificate of the Domstift zu Frankfurt a. M. von 882 and their significance for the pen. K. Th. Völcker, Frankfurt am Main 1884 (2nd edition 1886).
  • Inventories of the Frankfurt City Archives. Volume 1, Völcker, Frankfurt am Main 1888.
  • History of the family of Oeynhausen. Part 4: Family Tables. Rommel, Frankfurt am Main 1889.
  • Information about the Grotefend family. For the family association. 11 booklets. Schwerin 1890–1909.
  • Calculation of the German Middle Ages and modern times. 2 volumes in 3 departments, Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hanover 1891–1898 (reprint Aalen 1970).
  • Pocket book of the chronology of the German Middle Ages and modern times. Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hannover 1898 (2nd edition 1905, 3rd edition 1910, 4th edition 1915, 5th edition 1922, 6th edition 1928, 7th edition 1935, 8th edition 1941, reprint (declared 9th edition) 1948 , 10th edition 1960, 11th edition 1971, 12th edition 1982, 13th edition 1991, 14th edition 2007).
  • The ancestors and descendants of Johann Christian Grotefend († 1813). Schwerin 1901.
  • The king's lieutenant Count Thoranc in Frankfurt a. M. Files on the occupation of the city by the French from 1759 to 1762. K. Th. Völcker, Frankfurt am Main 1904.
  • Outline of the chronology of the German Middle Ages and modern times. BG Teubner, Leipzig / Berlin 1906 (2nd edition 1912, 3rd edition 1923).


Web links

Wikisource: Hermann Grotefend  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ernst Elsheimer (ed.): Directory of the old fraternity members. Edition 1925/26. Frankfurt am Main 1925/1926, p. 144.
  2. ^ Foreword to the 1st edition of the "Taschenbuch der Zeitrechnung", cited above. after: Hermann Grotefend: Pocket book of the calculation of time of the German Middle Ages and the modern times. 14th edition, Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hanover 2007, ISBN 978-3-7752-5177-8 , SV
  3. Horst Ruth: Online version of the calendar of the German Middle Ages and the modern times. Munster 2004.