Matthias Jacob Schleiden

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Matthias Jacob Schleiden
Signature Matthias Jacob Schleiden.PNG

Matthias Jacob Schleiden (born April 5, 1804 in Hamburg , † June 23, 1881 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German botanist and co-founder of the cell theory . Its official botanical author's abbreviation is “ Schleid. "

Live and act

Matthias Jacob Schleiden, son of a doctor, initially studied law at the University of Heidelberg and received his doctorate in law in 1826 . Then he went back to his hometown Hamburg. Schleiden was there on 26 October 1827 as a lawyer admitted and was enrolled as such until the 1,831th After a suicide attempt in 1832 during one of his depressive phases, he began studying medicine at the University of Göttingen in 1832 or 1833 , during which his interest in the natural sciences, especially botany, increased more and more. Here he was mostly a student of Friedrich Gottlieb Bartling . He went to Berlin in 1835 , studied with Johann Horkel and dealt mainly with botany, plant physiology and, above all, plant embryology .

In 1839 he graduated as Dr. phil. and got a call as associate professor at the University of Jena . In 1850 he became a full professor and was entrusted with the management of the university's botanical garden. In Jena Schleiden not only gave lectures with a scientific and botanical content; he also spoke on anthropological, philosophical and cultural-historical topics. Just like Alexander von Humboldt , Schleiden wanted to arouse and promote interest in the natural sciences among educated citizens.

He wrote articles on phytogenesis and was the first botanist to prove that the different parts of plants consist of cells . He also recognized the importance of the nucleus , which had been discovered in 1831 by the Scottish botanist Robert Brown . Schleiden was one of the first German botanists to accept Charles Darwin's theory of evolution .

In 1863 Schleiden accepted a position at the University of Dorpat ( Livonia ), where he was offered a chair in plant chemistry. Here, too, he gave lectures for the educated middle class. Misunderstandings and arguments with the church made him return to Dresden in resignation in 1864 . As a private scholar he worked one after the other in Darmstadt , Wiesbaden and Frankfurt am Main until the end of his life .

Professor of Natural History in Jena

In his scientific work Schleiden was close to the philosopher Jakob Friedrich Fries in his struggle against all kinds of speculations which influenced medicine and natural sciences of the Romantic period. Together with Theodor Schwann , Schleiden created the basics of Rudolf Virchow's cellular pathology with cell theory .

Schleiden earned merit by opposing the growing anti-Semitism of the 1870s.

Matthias Jacob Schleiden died on June 23, 1881 in Frankfurt am Main at the age of 77.


Matthias Jacob Schleiden was accepted into the Leopoldina in 1838 . Since 1849 he was a member of the Royal Saxon Society of Sciences in Leipzig. In 1854 he was appointed a foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . The genus Schleidenia Endl. the plant family of Borage Family (Boraginaceae) named.

The following streets and squares are named after him:

The asteroid (37584) Schleiden was named after him on May 26, 2002. The Leopoldina awards the Schleiden Medal in his honor .


  • Contributions to phytogenesis. In: Archives for Anatomy, Physiology and Scientific Medicine. 1838, pp. 137-176.
  • Fundamentals of scientific botany together with a methodological introduction as a guide for studying the plant . 2 parts. Leipzig 1842, 1843, 1850, later editions edited under the title The botany as inductive science ; Reprint: Olms, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 1998, ISBN 3-487-10530-6 .
  • Schelling's and Hegel's relationship to natural science: On the relationship between physicalistic natural science and speculative natural philosophy , 1844; Reprints u. a. Severus-Verlag 2012, ISBN 978-3-86347-298-6 .
  • About the fossil plant remains of the Jena shell limestone. In: EE Schmid & MJ Schleiden: The geognostic conditions of the Saalthal near Jena. Verlag von Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig 1846, pp. 66–72, 74, plate V.
  • The plant and its life. Engelmann, Leipzig 1848 ( digitized version and full text in the German text archive ).
  • The age of the human race, the origin of species and the position of man in nature. Engelmann, Leipzig 1863 ( digitized version and full text in the German text archive ).
  • Ocean. Publishing and printing by A. Sacco Nachf., Berlin 1867, DNB 1001148282 ; Reprint: Severus, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-86347-291-7 .
  • The Rose. History and symbolism in an ethnographic and cultural-historical relationship. Publishing house and printing Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig 1873; Reprint: Sendet, Wiesbaden 1973, ISBN 3-500-26940-0 .
  • The importance of the Jews for the preservation and revival of the sciences in the Middle Ages. Commissioned by Baumgaertner's Buchhandlung, Leipzig 1877; Reprint: Nabu Press 2010, ISBN 978-1-149-67731-5 ; Digitized version of the University Library in Frankfurt am Main 2007
  • The romanticism of martyrdom among the Jews in the Middle Ages. Publishing house and printing W. Engelmann, Leipzig 1878; Reprint: Kessinger Pub Co 2010, ISBN 978-1-162-51552-6 ; Digitized version of the University Library in Frankfurt am Main 2007
  • Studies. Popular lectures . Wilhelm Engelmann, Leipzig 1857; Digital copy from the Duchess Anna Amalia Library, Weimar 2008


  • Olaf Breidbach , Uwe Hoßfeld , Ilse Jahn , Andrea Schmidt (eds.): Matthias Jacob Schleiden (1804–1881). Writings and lectures on anthropology. Steiner, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-515-08542-4 .
  • Ulrich Charpa: Methodology of Temporization. Schleiden, Whewell and the development history project. In: Philosophia naturalis . Volume 25, 1988, pp. 75-109.
  • Ulrich Charpa: Matthias Jakob Schleiden (1804–1881): The History of Jewish Interest in Science and the Methodology of Microscopic Botany. In: Aleph. Historical Studies in Science and Judaism. Volume 3, 2003, pp. 213-245.
  • Ulrich Charpa: Matthias Jakob Schleiden. In: Thomas Bach, Olaf Breidbach (Hrsg.): Naturphilosophie after Schelling. Frommann-Holzboog, Stuttgart 2005, pp. 627-653.
  • Ulrich Charpa: Darwin, Schleiden, Whewell and the “London Doctors”. Evolutionism and Microscopical Research in the Nineteenth Century. In: Journal for General Philosophy of Science. Volume 41, 2010, pp. 61-84.
  • Ilse Jahn:  Schleiden, Matthias Jacob. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 23, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-428-11204-3 , pp. 52-54 ( digitized version ).
  • Ilse Jahn, Isolde Schmidt: Matthias Jacob Schleiden (1804–1881): His life in self-testimonies (=  Acta Historica Leopoldina. Vol. 44). German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Halle (Saale) 2005, ISBN 3-8047-2258-X .
  • Wolfgang Meyer: 116th Schleiden. Mathias Jacob. In: From the high school graduate register of the Johanneum 1804–27. Lütcke & Wulff, Hamburg 1906, pp. 34-36 ( digitized version ).
  • Martin Möbius : Matthias Jacob Schleiden on his 100th birthday. With a portrait of Schleiden. Engelmann, Leipzig 1904.
  • AP: Matthias Jacob Schleiden. In: The Israelite . No. 34, August 20, 1931, p. 11 ( ( page no longer available , search in web archives: PDF file; 4.80 MB )).@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  • Marianne Scholz: Mathias Jacob Schleiden in Tartu (Dorpat) 1863–1864: disputes, intrigues, backgrounds . The Blue Owl Publishing House, Essen 2003.
  • Ernst Wunschmann:  Schleiden, Matthias Jacob . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 31, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1890, pp. 417-421.

Web links

Commons : Matthias Jacob Schleiden  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Matthias Jacob Schleiden  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gerrit Schmidt: The history of the Hamburg lawyers from 1815 to 1879. Hamburg 1989, ISBN 3923725175 , p. 328.
  2. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Schleiden, Matthias Jacob. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 1300.
  3. ^ MJ Schleiden ( Memento from December 27, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymous plant names - Extended Edition. Part I and II. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin , Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-946292-26-5 doi: 10.3372 / epolist2018 .