Johann Gottfried Gross

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Johann Gottfried Groß (born October 8, 1703 in Uehlfeld near Neustadt an der Aisch; † July 12, 1768 in Erlangen ) was a German publicist and royal official.


Johann Gottfried Groß was born on October 8, 1703 as the son of pastor Johann Matthias Groß (1676–1748) and Anna Maria Baumann (+ Marktbergel 1732, 1st marriage) in Uehlfeld near Neustadt an der Aisch. His father was the author of the Historical Lexicon of Protestant Jubilation Priests (1727). The father taught him himself before the son attended the general school in Nuremberg and then the Coburg high school Casimirianum . After completing school he studied theology in Halle and Leipzig. Although he came from a strictly religious family, his main interests were mainly philosophy, the old and new languages ​​as well as statistics and politics.

After completing his studies, he first worked as court master for Ludwig Christoph Adam von Lindenfels zu Nairitz , then as a preceptor at the pedagogy in Halle and later at the monastery school of the Berge monastery near Magdeburg. Although he was not ordained, he was finally employed by a widowed Duchess of Anhalt as a palace and cabinet preacher, and later also for a count in the Wetterau. Before he was appointed professor of history at the Erlangen Knight Academy in 1840, he worked in Regensburg as an in-house information specialist for the booksellers Betz and Bader.

In 1741 he began to publish the Erlangen newspaper, Excerpt of the Latest World History , for which he wrote the articles almost alone. The name of the magazine was slightly modified several times by Groß; colloquially it was usually simply called Der Erlanger . Johann Gottfried Groß published a total of 28 volumes up to his death. In his newspaper Groß published not only entertaining reports, anecdotes and satires but also articles about local, national and international political events and statesmen, in which he also incorporated his independent, often sharply formulated critical judgment.

In addition to readers in Germany, he soon had subscribers in numerous other European countries and even in America. Especially in times of war, the newspaper achieved high print runs of up to 18,000 copies, which was a very considerable number for the early days of the press. But pirated prints of the newspaper also appeared again and again.

With the beginning of the 1st Silesian War (1740–1742), Groß increasingly took a critical position vis-à-vis the Prussian King Friedrich II and finally took a clear position on the side of Maria Theresa . He moved to Nuremberg, from where he continued to publish his newspaper. In 1745 Maria Theresa appointed him a councilor and political agent to protect him. While he initially lived in the city itself in Nuremberg, Gross, who had become a wealthy man through the publication of the newspaper, finally acquired the Rohlederer's garden near St. Johannis .

Because of the often very sharply formulated criticism of political events and exaggerated satirical contributions that he wrote for his newspaper, Groß was repeatedly forced to publish counter statements, revocations and apologies. He developed an increasing fear of personal persecution by those whom he had made his enemy through his texts, that he tried to secure his estate with window frames and multiple door bolts against feared attacks. The worry turned into a real paranoia, which is why he is said to have often woken up whole nights with a loaded gun and only slept during the day.

In 1752 he was appointed Margravial Brandenburg Council and historiographer. In the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), however, he changed his attitude critical of Prussia and eventually became an admirer of Frederick the Great. After he finally no longer felt safe in Nuremberg, he returned to Erlangen in 1753, where he campaigned for the establishment of a professorship for regional history. In 1765 he was appointed Royal Prussian Councilor.

Johann Gottfried Groß always had many ideas for the most varied of ventures. So for a while he pursued the idea of ​​setting up a commercial academy, and later a political seminar. But since he could not find the necessary supporters, the ideas remained unrealized. The improvement of school and university education was particularly important to him personally. For example, he repeatedly supported needy scholars with generous donations of money and sent mortgage notes worth 30,000 guilders to the Realschule in Berlin.

In addition to his politically oriented newspaper with excerpts from the latest world history , he also had the idea of ​​a scientifically oriented newspaper in which he wanted to publish excerpts from the latest scholarly history . He published three editions of this before transferring the editing of the magazine to Georg Andreas Will , who published two volumes in 1749 and 1750.

He also planned to publish a general encyclopedic dictionary, for which he had already collected a lot of material and for which he was always looking for collaborators. However, he did not succeed in implementing this project either.

Johann Gottfried Groß remained unmarried and childless, but is said to have had long affairs with numerous women. After his death in 1768, his cousin, the notary and councilor Johann Heinrich Groß (1736–1791), became the owner of the Erlanger Real-Zeitung as his universal heir. After his death, his son, the Justizrat Georg Leonhard Adam Groß, became the owner.

Although Groß 'heirs were the owners of the newspaper, unlike its founders, they did not deal with its editing themselves, but instead transferred this responsibility to various publishers over time. After Groß's death , the Erlanger Realzeitung was first created by the Erlangen professor Johann Christian Zindel († 1794), then by the Erlangen professor of philosophy Christian Masius (* 1711, † 1787) and from 1772 by the Erlangen postmaster and court chamberlain Johann Adam Wels († 1785) published. Subsequently, Albrecht Bayer became the publisher until Johann Ernst Ehregott Fabri took over the editorial office in 1794, which he held until 1803 when Johann Georg Christian Fick (* 1763, † 1821) took over the editorial office.


Title page of the Erlanger Real newspaper from 1769

Erlanger real newspaper

During the 28 years that Johann Gottfried Groß published until his death, the newspaper changed its title several times:

  • Brief excerpt from the latest world history. Christian-Erlangischer Newspaper Extract. ten years, Erlangen 1741–1750
  • Extract from the so titled Erlangische Zeitung, concerning the Nuremberg execution case, with special comments. 1751
  • Extract of the latest world history, accompanied by notes. 1751, 1752, and 1753
  • Extract of the latest world history and beautiful sciences, accompanied by notes. 1754, 1755, 1756 and 1757
  • Extract of the latest world history, with notes. 1758-1762
  • Real newspaper, that is, an extract from the latest world history, with explanations. Erlangen 1763-1768.

Other publications

  • Insignificant thoughts about a seminarium Politicum or court, police, action, art u. Business school, for that class of youth, which is not really for study, but for all sorts of other dignified and political ways of life, as an example of court, civil and similar life. Military service, to the merchants, writing and economics, also other not quite common arts and professions is dedicated. Nuremberg 1739
  • To get news of the current state of the Knight Academy and the seminar. Erlangen 1741
  • The budding Latin. Halle, from 1750 in four editions, fifth edition in 1769
  • Contributions in: The Swift Latin 2 parts. Nuremberg 1737 a. 1739
  • In: Homann's Atlante majore BI u. B. II. Atlante Germaniae speciali
    • Orbis in tabula, that is, Universal Geographic Map. First part, presenting on a single sheet of paper, with the exception of Germany, all parts, empires, states, and most distinguished places of the whole world, together with an indication of each religion, rule, river, also Latin name, item whether it is large or small cities, residences, etc.
    • Orbis in tabula, part two of the geographic universal map, presenting on a single sheet all the districts, provinces, etc. noblest place of the Heil. Roman Empire of the Teutscher Nation, along with a display of each religion, rule, rivers, etc. Latin name; for convenient use of the maps etc. weekly newspapers.


  • Joseph Anton von Bandel: Polemical funeral speech about the so-called Erlanger Mr. Johann Gottfried Groß, who was hit at Christian-Erlang by the Prussian river. Labbartische Stadt-Buchhandlung, Konstanz 1752
  • Joseph Anton von Bandel: Extraordinary Entrevue in the realm of the dead between two newspaper writers as the so-called Erlangen Mr. Johann-Gottfried Groß, Auctorn of the latest world history and the silent advocate Mr. Joseph Anton von Bandel, JUD knights of the St. Petri Order , Comit. Palatino, and member of the learned society in Rome. After those funeral and mourning speeches held about you, both of them lost their lives on a blow river, and went into the Elisaic fields. Where you would come together without suspicion, tell each other about your curious life circumstances and abamtures, including those most remarkable things, because of your dispute with some hitherto completely unknown particularities that the little bandel, as the last bearer of arms with faithful witnesses of the truth of your life, surrenders. Given by an ana light wandering out of the realm of the dead. Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1753
  • Georg A. Will: Life story of the very famous councilor Johann Gottfried Groß, who was a newspaper writer in Erlangen. In commission of the Schneider bookstore, Nuremberg 1788
  • Anton Ernstberger: Johann Gottfried Gross 1703 - 1768. Maria Theresa's political agent in the imperial city of Nuremberg. Beck, Munich 1962
  • Oskar Pusch: Family history news of the Poser and Groß-Naedlitz family, Volume III, Issue 8, Oberhausen 1965
  • Anton Ernstberger:  Great, Johann Gottfried. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , pp. 141 f. ( Digitized version ).

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Anton Ernstberger: Groß, Johann Gottfried. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie 7 (1966), p. 141 f.
  2. Georg A. Will: Life story of the very famous councilor Johann Gottfried Groß, who was a newspaper writer in Erlangen. In Commission of the Schneider bookshop, Nuremberg 1788, p. 4f
  3. Georg A. Will: Life story of the very famous councilor Johann Gottfried Groß, who was a newspaper writer in Erlangen. In Commission of the Schneider bookshop, Nuremberg 1788, p. 6
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l m Clemens Alois Baader: Lexicon of deceased Bavarian writers. A - P. Augsburg 1825
  5. Georg A. Will: Life story of the very famous councilor Johann Gottfried Groß, who was a newspaper writer in Erlangen. In Commission of the Schneider bookshop, Nuremberg 1788, p. 9