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WeimarFrom Enlightenment to the Present$

Michael H Kater

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300170566

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300170566.001.0001

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A Weimar Golden Age

A Weimar Golden Age

1770 to 1832

(p.1) Chapter 1 A Weimar Golden Age

Michael H. Kater

Yale University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on Weimar's Golden Age between 1770 and 1832. During that period, Weimar was the capital of one of four independent Saxon duchies, in an area now called Thuringia, in the centre of Germany. The only upper school in the realm was Wilhelm-Ernst Gymnasium, headed by Johann Michael Heintze. Christoph Martin Wieland arrived in 1772, followed by Johann Wolfgang Goethe three years later. Wieland was hired by Dowager Duchess Anna Amalia as tutor to her oldest son, Dauphin Karl August. This chapter also looks at other figures who were instrumental in Weimar's so-called ‘Muses' Court’ after 1770, including Karl August Böttiger, Friedrich Hildebrand von Einsiedel, and Siegmund von Seckendorff. In addition, it considers Goethe's role as the catalyst for Weimar's Golden Age, as well as his collaboration with Friedrich von Schiller in matters of the theatre. Finally, it describes Weimar's population, economy, and society in the second half of the eighteenth century and into the early nineteenth century.

Keywords:   theatre, Golden Age, Weimar, Germany, Wilhelm-Ernst Gymnasium, Johann Michael Heintze, Christoph Martin Wieland, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Friedrich von Schiller, economy

ON FEBRUARY 15, 1770, IN THE TOWN OF WEIMAR, THE MUNICIPAL council chose Johann Michael Heintze, one of three candidates, to be the new rector of the Wilhelm-Ernst Gymnasium. Weimar was the capital of one of four independent Saxon duchies, in an area now called Thuringia, in the center of Germany. The Wilhelm-Ernst Gymnasium was the only upper school in the realm, and one that taught classical languages. The fifty-three-year-old Heintze had experience as deputy director of the Gymnasium in North German Lüneburg. He had studied Greek, Latin, and Hebrew in Leipzig and Göttingen, and as a teacher had been so popular that several students followed him to Weimar. Even the famous Weimar-born medical scholar Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland would later remember him in his autobiography.1 Dowager Duchess Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, who was raised a princess of Braunschweig Wolfenbüttel, immediately approved the appointment. In attempting to reform the duchy's school system, in particular the curriculum of the Gymnasium next to the Town Church of St. Peter and Paul, it is likely that she herself had suggested Heintze as one to be trusted with this important job, because Lüneburg was close to Wolfenbüttel. At his inauguration in June Heintze was introduced in Latin. He himself answered with a speech, “De vera auctoris classici notione.”2 When he passed away twenty years later, his personal friend and superior, Superintendent Johann Gottfried Herder, called Heintze's former students fortunate. For “a true Roman” had taught them Latin, a man whom Gotthold Ephraim Lessing nonetheless had once praised for his brilliant command of the German language.3

A reformation of the Weimar Gymnasium was meant to spearhead reforms in the entire educational system of the duchy, and hence Heintze was called upon as both an administrator and a teacher. Conditions were (p.2) not good. Next to Heintze, there were only seven other teachers (still, this Gymnasium had a much larger faculty than comparable German schools), who were both lazy and unsystematic in their work.4 Subjects of instruction were ill-defined. Many students practiced absenteeism; some left the school before graduation to enter the nearby University of Jena. Students were forced to wear school uniforms that some could not afford and which grew shabby; others were cheated by duchy officials out of the meal tickets that had been the Gymnasium's privilege for decades.5

Heintze, an indefatigably conscientious educator, tried for years to bring about changes, enthusiastically backed by Herder when he arrived in the fall of 1776. But neither he nor Herder could make a difference: the school situation in Weimar, as in the entire duchy, remained dismal.6 Heintze may have been compensated for this failure by the company he was able to keep; next to Herder he socialized with Christoph Martin Wieland, who arrived in 1772, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who came three years later.7 His staff member Johann Musäus was a well-respected author of fairy tales. Thus he became part of a small circle of highly educated bureaucrats and politicians, joined by educated members of the nobility, most of them in the service of the court. All were supportive of and active in culture, knowledge, and science. Heintze's own specialties were classical literature, philosophy, and history; he was known for his published disquisitions in these fields and had translated Plato and Cicero into German.8

Heintze shared the humanism and interest in the classics of Wieland, who arrived in Weimar from nearby Erfurt University in September 1772, after Duchess Anna Amalia had hired him as educator to her oldest son, Dauphin Karl August. The ever-artistic Anna Amalia was aware of Wieland's writings, such as his most recent, the novel History of Agathon. Alongside Klopstock, Lessing, and Gellert, this thirty-nine-year-old professor of philosophy was already one of the best-known authors in Germany. Madame de Staël later compared him to Voltaire, with whom Wieland, son of a Swabian clergyman, shared religious skepticism. His lightness of style even in German reminded her of the French manner.9 Wieland came to Weimar after Anna Amalia had read his new work, The Golden Mirror, in which pedagogical ideas were aired. This made the duchess consider him as tutor for her fifteen-year-old son Karl August, whose current tutor, Count Johann Eustach von Görtz, she mistrusted. It was possible, she feared, that Görtz would influence her son in the direction of a palace revolution, with the aim of dethroning her. Wieland was to act as a counterweight.10

Although the poet was not averse to educating the young prince, what he really wanted was to have time for his own writings, unfettered by a (p.3) university curriculum. Originally, he had eyed not the small Weimar platform but the imperial court in Vienna, as did most of the poets in the Holy Roman Empire. But after accepting Weimar he became good friends with Görtz. Being paid around 600 taler annually with a life pension attached (Heintze was earning around 350 taler), Wieland was able to write an opera, Alceste, with music by the court composer Anton Schweitzer, which was performed by Anna Amalia's lay theater troupe in May 1773, and successfully repeated on the Weimar stage.11 Today it is regarded as the first true German opera. As expected, Wieland put in regular appearances at the Weimar court, dining there several times a month; he educated the prince in history and law, and still had time for his own work.12 Already well entrenched in the classical tradition, he authored, in poetic form, Oberon in 1780; at the same time he devoted himself to the German idiom and started producing a journal, Der Teutsche Merkur . It sought contributions from the likes of Hufeland, who published an article on Mesmer's magnetism there in 1785.13

With Wieland's appointment Anna Amalia had followed, for the second time, a strategy by which she would attract to her court men of culture and of letters without the outlay of large funds possessed by a prominent Maecenas of the Renaissance. As the niece of Frederick the Great of Prussia and reared at a sophisticated paternal court she was deeply immersed in culture herself.14 Hence she offered these men posts in the administration of her realm, and as salaried officials they would entertain her on the side –an educated coterie as permanent fixture.15 The third time this approach was tried was in 1775 when her son, now the reigning duke and barely of age, expressed his intention to sign up the young Frankfurt lawyer Johann Wolfgang Goethe.

Goethe was born on August 28, 1749. With his play Götz von Berlichingen (1773), a historical drama influenced by Shakespeare, he achieved fame all over Germany; with his novel Die Leiden des jungen Werther (1774), in which a young man kills himself over unrequited love, European fame. It became a cult book. Everywhere young men were dressing in the Werther style: yellow vest and trousers, complemented by a blue frock and brown boots.16 In that sense, Goethe was the creator of modern popular culture, long before the Beatles. Others committed copycat suicides, with the Werther book placed on their body. In describing this greatest of German writers, who was also an artist, a stage director, a landscape architect, a mine administrator and a politician, superlatives abound. About 3,000 drawings by him are extant, and his works and letters amount to 138 volumes. In the words of Nicholas Boyle, so far his most authoritative biographer, “he had (p.4) a natural affinity with the rhythms of the German language and throughout his life produced, unpredictably, but with dreamlike facility, lyric poems of unique form and character.” His two-part drama Faust constitutes the greatest long poem of recent European literature, inspiring numerous further treatments of the theme.17 Madame de Staël has written that in himself alone he united “all that distinguishes German genius: and no one besides is so remarkable for a peculiar species of imagination which neither Italians, English, or French, have ever attained.”18 The young Wilhelm von Humboldt was overwhelmed by Werther: he read it through the night until he finished in the morning.19 Friedrich Nietzsche placed Goethe above all other Germans, but his view that Goethe was beyond envy was erroneous.20 Karl Jaspers credits him as a giant of “world literature,” who conjured “the unity of mankind.”21

Goethe came from a patrician family of recent upward mobility; his father was a Frankfurt municipal councillor independently wealthy enough to lead a comfortable rentier's life.22 Goethe studied law in Leipzig and Strasbourg and attained a comparatively modest licentiate, although soon everybody would call him “Doctor Goethe.” He knew of Wieland, whose Alceste in 1773 he publicly blamed for having falsified the image of Greek gods.23 Goethe, a handsome young man and popular with the ladies, was nevertheless unhappy with his likely future as a lawyer in Frankfurt, felt stifled in his literary creativity, and was looking for alternatives.24 In 1774 he met both Prince Karl August of Weimar and his younger brother Constantin, who were in the area for French education, accompanied by the latter's mentor, Carl Ludwig von Knebel. This retired major wished to meet with Goethe because of the Wieland controversy. Goethe and Knebel became fast friends and he also took to the crown prince. Back in Weimar Knebel, a literary man of Anna Amalia's liking, beat the drum for Goethe, who was persuaded to move to Weimar in November 1775 as guest of the new duke. Just married to Princess Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt, Karl August was then a mere eighteen years old, whereas Goethe was twenty-six.25 Could the multi-talented Goethe not serve in the duchy's administration as well as be the cultured friend of Knebel, Karl August, and Anna Amalia?

One may ask not only why Goethe went to Weimar, but also why he stayed there, for many years, when he could easily have moved on. For 1775–76, bored with Frankfurt and with himself, and having been acquainted with several young women without committing himself, Goethe felt that Weimar seemed just the right place for a young man with his particular talents. He displayed great ambition, was nothing less than arrogant, and wanted to exert influence over people, hoping for rapid promotion. Weimar (p.5) was geographically in the middle of Germany, roughly equidistant from Frankfurt and Leipzig on the east–west axis, and from Berlin and Munich to the north and south. As a town it was much smaller than any of the dominant four, and the principality itself was manageable. Goethe could stir up events here in a manner that was not possible in a larger place where he would not be able to stand out.26 He could avail himself of friendship with a duke young enough to be malleable, who stood to grant him a significant position in the administration and a commensurate salary. Indeed, in June 1776 Goethe received the title of legation councillor and a seat on the threemember Secret Council headed by the much older Prime Minister Baron Jakob Friedrich von Fritsch, after his objections had been neutralized –especially by Anna Amalia who was, as always, interested in good government.27 Goethe's pay was to be 1,200 taler, twice the money Wieland earned. There was the closeness of a university –at Jena, some ten miles to the east.28 And then there were the interpersonal factors. Wieland, whom he had criticized earlier, enthusiastically welcomed his arrival, calling Goethe “a wonderful human being,” whom it was necessary to be introduced to “face to face.”29 Goethe would be called upon by Karl August to join him and a few select friends in their capers, on the hunt and in the hamlets chasing village beauties, to say nothing of keeping company with polite society at court. Finally, a few days after his arrival in Weimar, Goethe met a woman seven years his senior, very attractive and with an inquisitive intellect. Baroness Charlotte von Stein had an indifferent husband, the equestrian marshal at court, and Goethe would remain inordinately attached to her for years.30

Before Goethe made his name in Weimar as a policy-maker, he acquired a questionable reputation as a prankster, always in the company of his friend, the duke. Trading on his reputation as a famous author, he took liberties in his behavior, knowing that the duke would approve and even encourage him. He bristled with self-confidence. The ladies of high society would gush over him, insofar as they had read his romantic novel Werther, but also for his handsomeness. Young men would strive to wear the “Werther Costume,” that suggestive combination of blue, brown, and yellow; in some cases Karl August even insisted on the outfit. This was in the aura of German post-”Storm and Stress” (Sturm und Drang) that had spawned Goethe's earliest writings, and it elicited activities on the borderline of insanity but nonetheless termed Geniestreiche, or hits of genius. These included skinny-dipping, riding roughshod over the crops of unsuspecting peasants, staying out at night and drinking recklessly, as well as cavorting with lasses in the field or at village festivities.31 As a practical joke Goethe and Karl August would stand in the central market square for hours and (p.6) crack whips, to the annoyance of the vendors and pedestrians.32 One of the worst of such mindless activities occurred when the two men decided to visit the house of the young entrepreneur Friedrich Justin Bertuch, who had just got married. The duke, declaring Bertuch's new home appointments petit-bourgeois, ripped pages from a book and punctured the new wallpaper with a dagger. Goethe stood by sheepishly yet obviously embarrassed, and when the rampage was over he apologized to the devastated young wife, acknowledging to her that she was having “a tough beginning.” Bertuch himself fell gravely ill, but in the end recovered.33

Altogether, on the part of Goethe, this demonstrated immaturity rather than a balanced personality. Goethe therefore stood to benefit from the wisdom and experience of the next man to arrive at the court of Weimar, who was five years older. The young law student had met Johann Gottfried Herder 1770 in Strasbourg, where Herder underwent an eye operation. Herder became head preacher at the Bückeburg court in North Germany, where he was unhappy, because his talents were underutilized and the pay was meager. This theologian, a native of East Prussia, resembled Goethe in his plethora of interests; Wieland knew of him and so did Heintze, and when Karl August asked Goethe to find a replacement for the recently deceased superintendent, Goethe suggested Herder. Since a call to a professorship in Göttingen did not materialize, Herder began his new employment in Weimar in October 1776, being paid the same as Goethe.34 Although he would principally be active in church supervision, he was to oversee the reform of the school system as well. Herder embarked on both tasks, proving himself a charismatic preacher and attempting to introduce teachers' seminaries.35 But as the polymath that he was, he tried to have time left over for his other interests: writing essays in universal history and literary criticism, collecting folk songs (he would publish a collection in 1778–79), and authoring treatises in philosophy. He worked on a law of humanity, a criticism of his one-time Königsberg teacher Immanuel Kant, and he published a series of Humanitätsbriefe well into the 1790s.36 He emphasized the concept of the Volk and championed everything German –although, like Wieland and Goethe, he acknowledged the importance of classical ideas. As a person, Herder stood out: not only because of his deep piety, sharp wit and exquisite learnedness, but also for his charm, concern for others (he became a caring friend of Duchess Luise), and unconventional manners. There was much that was incongruous in his character; for example he would generally chide pupils who went to the theater because the young actresses they sought there he regarded as little better than whores, yet he himself enjoyed stage plays when he thought (p.7) they were of quality.37 He was a moody hypochondriac and considered himself increasingly isolated, especially as he found that his writings met with little response, except from his old admirer Wieland, at least at first.38

Other figures were instrumental in what has usually been described as Weimar's “Muses' Court” after 1770: most with daytime jobs. Some were professionals such as the court physicians Dr. Hufeland, Christoph Wilhelm's father, and Dr. Wilhelm Ernst Huschke, others professors at the Gymnasium like Heintze's successor Karl August Böttiger. There were musicians, and there were courtiers, such as Knebel and the barons Einsiedel and Seckendorff. Friedrich Hildebrand von Einsiedel was a poet, trans-lator, and composer, but primarily a virtuoso cellist. He played in the ducal lay orchestras, and for opera and theater.39 So did Siegmund von Seckendorff, a former officer under Frederick the Great, who could add piano and violin to his friend's cello.40

In cultural and intellectual intercourse, Goethe, Herder, and Einsiedel revolved around Anna Amalia and Karl August, but less as patrons than as state employers. Anna Amalia had begun her regency of the duchy one year after the death of her husband Ernst August in 1758, carrying with her and expanding on the tradition of culture she inherited from Wolfenbüttel. In that sense, then and later, as Walter Bruford has emphasized, the court at Weimar was not essentially different from courts at Mannheim, Mainz, or Gotha, the last-mentioned being another of the Saxon dukedoms.41 Anna Amalia was particularly interested in music, and she hosted several of the itinerant opera companies that made the rounds of the European courts. She herself played the piano and some flute, though not as proficiently as her maternal uncle Frederick, and she tried her hand at composing. Of special interest to her were books, which she started collecting in a court library.42 Theater was also important and the quality was high; touring companies performed works by Voltaire, Lessing, and Klopstock.43 The example of Johann Michael Heintze illustrates how she cared for important institutions such as schools, the state church, which was Lutheran, and the university at Jena; and she turned to public welfare and the improvement of the health system.44 In 1774 the theater burned down, but, undaunted, she continued staging plays in new quarters. After Karl August had assumed the reins in 1775, she held her own court and organized private productions in three modest palaces, the Wittumspalais in town, and Ettersburg and Tiefurt just outside. Irregularly and informally, the talents who were attracted to Weimar one by one kept her company, singly or in small groups, but an organized, institutionalized Muses' Court this was not.45

(p.8) If Duchess Anna Amalia had demonstrated enlightened despotism in the manner of her Prussian uncle and, to an extent, Josef II of Austria, her son all but continued the practice. As a younger, hot-blooded, potentate, his reckless personal behavior belied the interest he had in the collective well-being of his subjects, which again places him squarely beside Frederick, Saxony's Elector Friedrich August III, or Baden's Margrave Karl Friedrich. But as Goethe found out through camaraderie, his tastes were coarse; field sports, a small if decorative army, parks, palaces, and especially young women, always occupied his mind. Being unhappily married to Luise of Hesse-Darmstadt, he took mistresses, often more than one: the Countess Jeanette von Werthern, the British Weimar resident Emilie Gore, and probably the mysterious actress Corona Schröter. Later he would woo the actress Karoline Jagemann, sire four children with her and grant her a noble title.46 He loved the dance, and drinking and parties, roughing it up outside and traveling, even when his health was not the strongest.47 But although he was of course the picture of an absolute monarch, his ears were not closed to talk of reform, and in the arts and literature he was increasingly well versed. Like his mother, he had read Werther before Goethe's arrival, and Goethe's counsel was just as important to him as it was to her.48 Goethe shaped him gently and carefully, not only in the natural sciences with which he later impressed Alexander von Humboldt, but also in humanities.49 Humane ideas preoccupied Karl August perhaps even more lastingly than they did the patrician Goethe, as the example of the child murderess Johanna Catharina Höhn was soon to show.

Goethe, Schiller and their Circles

Goethe was the catalyst for what in his very own lifetime became the Golden Age of Weimar, that Athens on the Ilm river, as it was increasingly called in the nineteenth century. Goethe and his fellow savants would propel to fame a small town in central Germany which hitherto had been noted only for the repeated visits of Martin Luther and as the short-term residence of Luther's friend, the painter Lucas Cranach, in the sixteenth century, as well as the musicianship of J. S. Bach in the early eighteenth century.50

As for Goethe himself, in the first decade of his career in the dukedom he put in an impressive performance as administrator, although his literary output lagged. Just as his superiors had expected, he excelled in politics. As the junior of the three-member privy council that governed the duchy, he attended one or two meetings a week. Altogether, from June 1776 to (p.9) February 1786, he was at over 600 sessions.51 Commensurate with his performance, his rise was spectacular: from legation councillor he was promoted to secret councillor in 1779, having served instrumentally on various special commissions in a role that today would be that of a minister of state. His peak year was 1782: he was ennobled as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and assumed de facto administration of finances.52 It meant that he was shouldered with the not inconsiderable burden of putting the fiscal house in order. This was no easy matter, for since Anna Amalia's regency (and aided by the turmoil of the Seven Years War, 1756–63), in the cameral economic style of the time, expenditures of the court and the state had not been separate. Moreover, the costs of keeping court had taken up the bulk of the duchy's entire financial obligations. Already when Karl August assumed office in September 1775, he faced a sovereign deficit economy, which was not helped by events such as the fire in the castle area in the center of town during 1774.53 Goethe, who had a shrewd sense of economy, tried as best he could, but ultimately without success, to improve this situation as he did with others, such as when he attempted to revitalize the copper and silver mines at nearby Ilmenau.54 His underlying state philosophy was that of the benevolent absolute rulers of the time, while more progressive concepts of the Enlightenment increasingly tempered older, more traditional, notions of governance. In this he was joined by his intelligent duke, and he certainly had the blessing of the reform-minded Anna Amalia. But his was still an absolutist state, and it was far removed from any notions of democracy, as was Goethe personally.55 Goethe still endorsed, participated in and even initiated some surprisingly unenlightened practices, such as suppressing regional peasants' rebellions, selling prison inmates to England for battle against American revolutionaries, and infiltrating the University of Jena's faculty and student body with spies.56

Goethe surprisingly stopped his gubernatorial activities by moving to Italy in September 1786 for almost two years, without even Karl August's permission. In retrospect, one can identify three reasons for this. One, he had grown tired of whatever his relationship with Charlotte von Stein had been and wanted to cool it down. Second, the sheer weight of his official duties was bearing down on him to the point of collapse. Third, and related to this, he had had no energy and time to be culturally creative –not least, to satisfy his ambitions as a visual artist.57

Indeed, since his arrival in Weimar Goethe had hardly written anything significant after Werther. With difficulty he completed his new play Iphigenie auf Tauris, the first version of which, in prose, was premiered in 1779. It was part of a loosely organized series in which the court expected (p.10) all of its vaunted literati to participate as a matter of routine, and this was Goethe's –albeit high-quality –contribution.58 In 1782 he finally completed the second book of what would later become known as his novel Wilhelm Meister. Apart from that, he wrote poems and playlets, again for court festivities or as part of his correspondence with Frau von Stein. Other duties for the court included taking part in lay theater, both as actor and director (here some of his less important, earlier, plays were performed), in which capacity he also hired a professional, the enchanting Corona Schröter, away from Leipzig, but these activities decreased in importance over time, especially because in 1783 the full-time troupe of Giuseppe Bellomo was installed.59

After returning to Weimar from Italy, Goethe largely withdrew from the administration of state, although he still intervened in matters he deemed important. He did not surrender his active involvement in the Ilmenau mining business and continued to control the affairs of Jena University. Culture in general demanded more of his attention: Anna Amalia's library, a modest drawing school, and his own new studies in color theory, botany, and anatomy.60 He also rekindled his old love of the stage. With Bellomo's company gone in April 1791, Karl August appointed Goethe to the directorship of a ducal court theater. Here the privy councillor ordered his own plays to be performed, but also those of the very popular local playwright August Kotzebue, as well as Die Räuber and Don Carlos, dramas by a new and, in everybody's judgment quite sensational, author Goethe had had occasion to watch for a number of years now, by the name of Friedrich Schiller.61

Schiller was the first man of letters of note who arrived in Weimar not because he was being summoned to assume an office by the ruling powers, but of his own volition. Weimar's significance in this so-called Golden Age was precisely that it was able to make a name for itself first because a duke or duchess had had the brilliant foresight to invite to their township experts in education, politics, or administration who also functioned as originators and brokers of culture; then, when those personalities were anchored within the town walls, they in turn attracted men of similar caliber. Friedrich Schiller, too, arrived in Weimar with the intention of finding inspiration for his creative work from the likes of Wieland and Goethe (whom he had once seen as a visitor in his home town along with Duke Karl August); at the same time he wanted to find respectable, and permanent, employment.62

Unlike Goethe, Schiller was born into poverty, on November 10, 1759, in the small town of Marbach near Stuttgart (Swabia). His father was an (p.11) army medic serving under the Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg, who governed his territory in despotic fashion. The young Schiller came to resent him, especially since the duke, instead of allowing him to become a poet, pressed him into the service of a military physician himself. Punished several times for disobedience –Schiller had wielded his pen and temporarily deserted his army unit –the budding writer fled to Mannheim in early 1782, where his drama Die Räuber had been accepted for its premier performance, with the famous August Wilhelm Iffland in the leading role as Franz Moor.63 Like Werther ten years earlier, this became an instant success and a source of annoyance for Goethe, not only because he was jealous but also because its main plot was redolent of revolt against authority. The latter aspect equally bothered Duke Karl August, whom Schiller met at Christmas 1784 at the court of Darmstadt. Schiller read to him from his unfinished play Don Carlos, whereupon he received the nominal title of a Weimar councillor, which suggested to him that the grass was much greener over there. It was an influential lady friend who had recommended him to the Darmstadt court; Schiller, tall with reddish-blond hair, a prominent nose, and a self-assured yet charming manner, was immediately attractive to women (he had almost been late for his Räuber debut because of a romp with a waitress). It was through yet another young woman, Charlotte von Kalb, married into one of Weimar's leading political clans, that Schiller finally found his way into town. Everyone in Weimar assumed at the time, probably correctly, that he was her lover, and predictably she facilitated his first important meetings with Weimar notables.64

After reaching Weimar on July 21, 1787, Schiller expected to find Goethe and Karl August there, but was disappointed that the privy councillor was in Italy indefinitely and the ruler just out traveling.65 The differences and commonalities between Schiller and Goethe at that time are telling: ten years younger, Schiller was certainly as ambitious as Goethe had been twelve years earlier but not nearly as established. He had to try much harder, since Goethe had been called to visit, even though Schiller's fame at that time was not far from Goethe's then. In any event, Schiller went to see the fellow Swabian Wieland, with whom he got along quite well at first, owing not least to Wieland's kindly disposition. Although the older poet, like Goethe, disliked Die Räuber, he invited his colleague to collaborate on the Teutsche Merkur.66 This became a problem, however, because Schiller was busy with his own journal projects, currently Thalia and later Die Horen, for publishing journals was one of his pursuits. The Merkur had lost subscribers lately. Hence there was rivalry from the outset, which later turned into mutual indifference and even animosity.67 Next Schiller tried (p.12) Herder, with whom he had a less complicated relationship, eventually inviting him successfully to contribute to his Horen, until Schiller discovered the philosophy of Kant, whom Herder abhorred.68

Since Schiller did not receive a job offer, from the court or elsewhere, he remained stuck with making his money as a writer and editor for journals, and as a playwright –he cleared approximately 100 taler a year. Eventually he received a sinecure of 1,000 taler annually from the Danish minister of state Prinz Friedrich Christian von Augustenburg and his fellow politician Count Ernst Heinrich von Schimmelmann, who were admirers of Schiller's works.69 Schiller's writings were now concerned with history. He had already studied much history for his drama Don Carlos, and by 1788, arising from this, he was concentrating on the rebellion of the oppressed Dutch provinces of Spain. Although this work would remain fragmentary, by September 1790 he had completed the first two of five volumes about the Thirty Years War (1618–48), which crystallized his –soon to be famous –drama Wallenstein.70 Goethe, who since his return to Weimar in June 1788 had been painfully aware that Schiller was living just three houses away from his own (it certainly took some gall for Schiller to be so obtrusive), probably wanted to remove the younger rival when he had him appointed associate professor of history at Jena in December. Even without ulterior motives, however, Goethe knew what he was doing, for he wanted to polish the tarnished image of Jena's academy, which had declined as the duchy's only temple of higher learning. Schiller accepted in the hope of earning a steady income, realizing too late that this was merely an honorific position netting him only attendance fees. Since his reputation preceded him, the auditorium was packed when he held his inaugural lecture in May 1789, on the uses of universal history, but thereafter his students decreased in number. By this time Schiller had moved to Jena and out of Goethe's sight.71

With a good eye for opportunity and conscious of his successes with women, Schiller married Charlotte von Lengefeld in 1790, who came from another aristocratic Weimar-area family, actually having had a choice between Charlotte and her older, more sophisticated and vivacious, sister Caroline. (There is consensus today that he really loved Caroline, but thought Charlotte more pliable. Caroline was also still married, yet ready to divorce for Friedrich.)72 “In spirit and in character he is an extremely interesting person,” noted Wilhelm von Humboldt, who was temporarily making his home in Jena at this time, “and the poet in him is everywhere shining through.”73 Alas, only a year later Schiller was showing early symptoms of tuberculosis; the progressive illness delayed or prevented much of his future work.74

(p.13) Apart from his tenuous livelihood and insidious disease, Goethe remained Schiller's main problem. The older man kept avoiding him, and when they finally met in nearby Rudolstadt in September 1788, at a party of the Lengefelds, their small talk led nowhere. By this time Schiller was well known, whereas the national memory of Goethe, who had been out of the sight of Germans for nearly two years, had sunk dramatically. In letters to his closest friends, Schiller admitted to a love–hate for Goethe; he saw him as a prude, “whom one should make a child, to humble her before the world.”75

It took six more years for this relationship to reverse. But when it did, “a collaborative association was born, of superior effectiveness.”76 It marked the highlight, it defined the very essence of Weimar's Golden Age. Weimar was never, ever the same when this was over.

It is not clear what prompted Schiller to overcome his reticence, but on June 13, 1794, he wrote a letter to Goethe, inviting him to participate in the publication of Die Horen, a journal to discuss important issues but not, expressis verbis, politics. Instead, it would be “anything that can be treated with taste and in a philosophical spirit, philosophical problems as well as historical and poetic treatises.” Those were the subjects that interested Schiller at the time. The fact that Goethe consented makes more sense, for he was still in the process of reinventing himself and could use such a medium as an important platform for new literary output. Among other thinkers who gave the nod to Schiller were Wilhelm von Humboldt and his younger brother Alexander, Johann Gottlieb Fichte (who was then teaching at Jena), Herder, and August Wilhelm Schlegel; even Kant agreed at first –a virtual Who's Who of fertile minds. The journal was to be produced by Schiller and Goethe's publisher Johann Friedrich Cotta in an edition of 1,500, and the royalties would be generous.77

The deletion of politics was meant to avoid personal rancor and preclude censorship, for political questions of the day would inevitably touch on matters of the French Revolution, which already was in its fifth year and by now had led to the death of the King of the French and a regime of human abuse. There was a double irony in this because in so many ways allusions to the revolution were to be unavoidable, no matter what the prescription, and Goethe and Schiller both had very decided opinions on it already. As an enlightened conservative Goethe had always condemned it, whereas Schiller had been a qualified champion until the outbreak of the Reign of Terror and the decapitation of Louis XVI, in January 1793.78 Wieland and Herder were also for it, as they were for all of mankind's freedom and happiness, until the onset of the worst excesses.79

(p.14) Thus the path had been cleared for Schiller and Goethe finally to get to know each other better. This was helped along by a meeting the two of them had in Jena on July 20, 1794, after some scholar had given a public talk about a botanical subject at the university. In retrospect Goethe maintained in 1817 that after the lecture he and Schiller happened to be exiting the building next to each other, but it is much more likely that Schiller sought to sidle up to Goethe on purpose because of Goethe's positive response to Die Horen. On the other hand, it is equally possible that Goethe sought Schiller's proximity in order to continue using him as his new medium. In any case, they met, and on the way to Schiller's house they continued their discourse about the nature of the archetypal plant. It was carried further once they were inside, and what resulted was the realization on both sides that although they had much in common aesthetically and philosophically, it was clear that Schiller was a metaphysically inclined idealist who, influenced by Kant, claimed that the archetypal plant could be nothing more than an idea. But Goethe contradicted Schiller, “explaining the archetypal plant as his ‘experience’ and sketching it with a few strokes.” The incongruous results of this conversation fascinated both men and made them realize that a dialogue could be set in motion here that would foster their creativity in future.80

Without much ado, they now got their project, Die Horen, under way. Things went well at first, for Cotta secured 2,000 subscribers. In a section entitled “Epistles” Schiller and Goethe engaged in some interesting intellectual banter, Fichte published an article regarding “the genuine interest for truth,” and Goethe produced his “Roman Elegies.” Men like the older Humboldt, Herder, and the Jena historian Karl Ludwig Woltmann contributed, although Kant reneged on his promise. Perhaps the most important piece was a two-part dissertation by Schiller, “About Naïve and Sentimentalist Poetry,” in 1795 and 1796. Here he categorized genres of poetry and types of poets. Underlying this was a discourse with Goethe, whom he defined as a “naïve” poet, whereas he, Schiller, was the “sentimentalist.” Schiller wanted the gap to narrow, and Goethe seems to have given him hope that this was quite foreseeable.81

Die Horen survived only for three years, because it had too much against it (with the obvious exception that Schiller and Goethe did draw closer). Some, like the Kiel philosophy professor Wilhelm F.A. Mackensen, thought it too self-referential: mostly the same people wrote in it, always critiquing each other. But the in-group was small. When Fichte supplied a second article in 1795, Schiller as the editor in chief rejected it because it contradicted something he himself was just preparing for publication. Friedrich Schlegel was (p.15) never admitted, whereas his older brother August Wilhelm was.82 The quality of contributions began to suffer and, with a strong hint at events in France, the politically neutral stance was criticized. Wieland's much-longer-established Merkur was mentioned as an infinitely more balanced alternative, and Schiller's philosophical discussions were attacked as lightweight. Already in its second year Die Horen's editor was losing interest, not least because even Goethe showed signs of withdrawal.83

But he and Schiller continued to work together on a collection of distichs, Xenien, which, perhaps as a vengeful reprise, was meant to sting their colleagues. Xenien was conceived to attack groups, trends, and personalities that Goethe and Schiller poured scorn on. Theirs was the most progressive point of view. One characteristically conspirational specialty of the new approach was the individual anonymity of the two authors, designed to keep the readers guessing which one of them had written. The idea was as bril-liant as it was wicked, and for both reasons this immediately drew readers. “With Xenien,” writes Schiller's biographer Sigrid Damm, “both men demonstrated their friendship, for the first time, in the literary public realm.” Indeed, the “xenien” were satyrical attacks, often ad personam, against philistinism, provincialism, conservatism, mediocrity, and dilettantism. They targeted popular authors such as Kotzebue and religious bigots like Matthias Claudius and even Goethe's old Swiss friend Johann Caspar Lavater. German Jacobins who favored revolution on home soil were derided, early Romantics such as Friedrich Schlegel confronted. Wieland, who already had to bear Die Horen and now voiced objections, was ridiculed as a “virgin.” Xenien began in January 1796, and when it ended nine months later there were 900 pieces. Goethe and Schiller amused themselves, as readers were guessing that the more acidic pieces had flowed from Schiller's pen. If anything these literary escapades fortified the two men's friendship.84 Beyond those publicist efforts, Goethe and Schiller cooperated extensively after 1794, so that Schiller moved back from Jena to Weimar in December 1799. For example, Goethe helped Schiller in the conceptualization of his new extended drama Wallenstein, instructing him, among other things, in the basics of astrology, which had played such a predominant role in that general's life. Schiller in turn read and commented on parts of Goethe's new novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre and also Faust, which Goethe would labor over till the end of his life. Goethe later credited Schiller with having returned to him the gift of creativity, but since the older writer, with his notorious sense of self-importance, sometimes liked to overstate his case, we may take this assertion with a grain of salt. Schiller certainly never ceased in his devoutly reverential attitude towards the man. In 1797 both poets began (p.16) composing what would become world-famous ballads, such as Schiller's Der Ring des Polykrates and Goethe's Die Braut von Korinth. They often discussed issues until the small hours, and Goethe had to be careful not to strain Schiller's health, for his tuberculosis was steadily worsening.85

Of particular significance was the two men's collaboration in matters of the theater. Here Goethe had the practical experience of a stage director, while Schiller had so far specialized in writing plays. As with the literature of the day, both men wanted to improve the standard of plays being performed and, while they were at it, the overall quality of acting. They had the advantage of Goethe's appointment, since 1791, as court theater director, and his ability to hire professional actors. With women there was always a risk because the consummate philanderer Karl August might take a fancy to one and choose her as his mistress. He did this on two known occasions (if not on three, with Corona Schröter earlier), once when he favored Luise Rudorf and impregnated her, so that Knebel was prevailed upon to marry her. Hence Rudorf, a fine actress, disappeared from the stage.86 The other instance was more serious, when Karl August chose the voluptuous Karoline Jagemann, a native Weimarer, after the twenty-year-old had returned from professional training at the Mannheim stage in 1797. Since the duke in his capacity of employer had the right of censorship, in 1801 he prevented Schiller's Jungfrau von Orleans from being premiered in Weimar because Jagemann was earmarked for the title role, and Karl August thought (after the pattern of Voltaire's ribald Pucelle) that her honor would be compromised. Instead, Schiller had the play premiered in Leipzig.87

Goethe and Schiller's attempt at reform went a long way to being successful; mediocre pieces by the likes of Kotzebue and Iffland were purged from the program and, whenever possible, replaced by the poets' own. Hence Goethe's Egmont, as adapted for the stage by Schiller, was performed in 1796. Schiller's Piccolomini of the Wallenstein drama series in April 1799 became a huge success, and from Weimar it conquered Germany. The same happened with his Wilhelm Tell five years later: first the spectacular world premiere in Weimar, and a few months later sensational accolades in Berlin and on from there. For good reason, then, Goethe made Schiller his co-director of the stage. Schiller was, to all intents and purposes, the more popular of the two, as observed at work or in public.88 Young actor Eduard Genast, later one of the mainstays of the Weimar theater, has left us impressions from around 1800, when Schiller, already nationally famous, mixed easily with actors and everyone around him, charming them with his quaint Swabian dialect and direct approach. (p.17) Goethe, on the other hand, appeared “proud like a king, his head raised high, nodding graciously whenever acknowledging a greeting.”89

With Goethe and Schiller, individually or as a team constituting a natural core, Weimar's literati, artists, and more alert members of the nobility interacted with and revolved around each other. The result was the formation of a Court of Muses in the widest sense. Anna Amalia and Karl August, who had not intended those developments in precisely the fashion in which they transpired, were instrumental to the functioning of this circle, to the extent of their interest and how they cared to get involved on any given day. Frequently they were themselves in the center of intercultural events because of their granting of venues and their role as financiers. But theirs was a random patronage, idealistic as much as materialistic. There existed, after all, four or five different courts between mother and son alone, not counting the separate residence of Duchess Luise –a storey in her husband's palais. One can say that Goethe's expansive house on the Frauenplan, loaned in 1782 and owned in 1792, was an extension of this loosely organized network, and perhaps Wieland's and Herder's houses also, albeit with their economic leverage noticeably curtailed. By 1800 Weimar had gained a widespread reputation as home of the Muses, attracting ever more visitors, several of whom stayed on.90

As for the intellectual exchange, the so-called Wednesday Society meetings –which had been held under Anna Amalia's auspices mostly at her Weimar Wittumspalais in the late 1770s and 1780s and to which everybody who counted in town came –were in the early 1790s replaced by gatherings of a Friday Society. These were moved, after interruptions, from a Weimar palace to Goethe's private quarters; attendance was rather selective and the proceedings formal. Luminaries such as Herder, Hufeland, the Gymnasium director Böttiger, and Goethe himself would give learned papers, followed by discussion. Members of the ducal family were invited but Anna Amalia, whose chief interest was always music, attended only rarely, and eventually stayed away.91 By 1801 there was yet a third institutionalized get-together, a cour d'amour, also in Goethe's house, and with him and Schiller as hosts. Only fourteen select personalities were invited, for dinner after the theater. This was the stiffest affair yet, in keeping with Goethe's growing pomposity, which Thomas Mann so brilliantly caricatured in his novel Lotte in Weimar.92

But Herder too had his tea parties, and Wieland entertained local and foreign visitors on his estate in Ossmannstedt, outside of town.93 Visitors included not only the Humboldt brothers and some early Romantics like Schelling and the Schlegels, but also royalty from nearby principalities, (p.18) such as Prinz August von Gotha, who once came with the French abbé Guillaume Raynal, a leader of the Enlightenment.94 The most celebrated yet idiosyncratic visitor undoubtedly was Baroness Germaine de Staël who, because of Schiller's height, in 1803 mistook him for a general, still she did not warm as quickly to the overpowering Goethe. She harmonized best with the congenial Wieland, who was from the age of Voltaire she herself was so familiar with. Weimar had been a must-see town on her list of places in Germany to visit.95

Population, Economy, and Society

In the second half of the eighteenth century and into the early nineteenth, Weimar numbered approximately 6,000 people and was growing, with about 100,000 living in the entire duchy.96 Weimar was an agricultural town structurally broken only by the requisite institutions for a ruling court –palaces, administrative buildings, princely stables. In height they and two churches –Jacobi and St. Peter and Paul's (the Town and later Herder Church) –towered over rows of small, cramped houses decked with incendiary shingles. There are many first impressions of Weimar, some recorded by famous people. Herder called it a “cross between a village and a courtcity,” Schiller a “village,” Madame de Staël “a large castle.”97 There were trade shops and stalls; peasants from the surrounding countryside brought produce to market. Many peasants also lived in Weimar, keeping cows and sheep and pigs which were let out to pasture in the morning and driven back at night. Dung heaps were nestled next to house walls. Although almost every family lived in a house, these were very small, damp, cold, and uncomfortable, and prone to fires. Sanitary conditions were dismal, with open sewers, and chamber pots being emptied from windows over pedestrians' heads after sundown. Small streams and ponds were uncovered, contaminated, and unclean, constantly foul-smelling. Only gradually did the rulers pass ordinances to change this, to cover eyesores and prohibit abuses. But narrow, crooked, manure-soiled streets continued to be unpaved and unsafe, and always unlit at night. The lightning fire of 1774 in the middle of town, during which a worker lost his life, destroyed both the ducal palace Wilhelmsburg and the court theater and made the heart of town look ghastly. Jena University students would invade some evenings for bingedrinking in cheap taverns, riding in on haggard mares and causing a ruckus.98

However, to keep this in perspective, one has to ask how Weimar compared to other German places of similar proportions, and even to larger cities like Frankfurt and Berlin. In size, Weimar was typically medium, (p.19) somewhat smaller than Heidelberg, Darmstadt, or Göttingen. Worms was smaller, at 5,000, Mannheim three times its size, Leipzig more than four times, Frankfurt more than five times, and Dresden ten times. The university towns of Jena and Marburg as well as Wolfenbüttel, Anna Amalia's birthplace, were all smaller.99

Nor were the town's conditions uniquely bad or uncomfortable. Darmstadt too was characterized by tradesmen and farmers who sustained its main economy. Frankfurt had no public garbage removal system until 1775, and in Berlin it was criminals who did what street-cleaning there was, although pigs within its city walls had been prohibited since 1681. Berlin had an advanced sewer system only in 1870. One town in the vicinity of Weimar which positively stood out was Gotha; head of a neighboring duchy, it was almost twice as large, airy and well-kept.100

From medieval times, historic Weimar was contained within square walls, its four main gates protecting rulers and citizens. In Goethe's years, the walls were already crumbling and the gates becoming relicts. Goethe's stately house after 1782, one of a kind, was near the Frauentor on the Frauenplan; it dated from 1709. (In place of the old Frauentor a fine restaurant stands today, Café Frauentor. As one feasts on Thuringian dumplings and goose one has a marvelous view of the poet's residence). The old town was a square then, with the court buildings in the middle, some adjacent to markets. Steps away from the ducal residence, Anna Amalia's library (the former Green Castle) and the town hall were two restaurant-inns which would make history: one was the Elephant, which also figures in Mann's Lotte in Weimar, the other Der Erbprinz, almost next to it, where Schiller first lodged on arrival. Next to Goethe's home, and not far from Schiller's first, there was the less exclusive Weisse Schwan, a tavern Goethe frequented and still serving his alleged favorites today. In the Golden Age one could easily criss-cross the town on foot, if street grime would allow it; those few percent of citizens who were not peasants, tradesmen or retail merchants went by carriage. The Gymnasium of Heintze and Böttiger lay next to the main square on the Pottery Market (today named Herderplatz); it was next to St. Peter and Paul's, and Herder's house was close-by. Schiller later lived on the Esplanade (Schillerstrasse), halfway between Goethe's and Herder's houses, and Wieland's house was not far. These were not cumbersome distances to negotiate for the poets and thinkers of this small town on the Ilm, a rivulet passing by the palaces; they could visit each other easily, and appearances at court were quickly managed. More laborious were the trips to Anna Amalia's castles of Ettersburg, several miles to the north, and Tiefurt, equally far to the east, but carriages were usually at hand.101

(p.20) The duchy in general, and Weimar in particular, was economically poor. A famine hit the town from 1770 to 1772; tuberculosis and the pox compounded poverty in the 1790s.102 Weimar's agricultural base was threadbare, with no outstanding crop, such as wine in Heidelberg or Würzburg –towns vaguely comparable to Weimar in size.103 Worms near Heidelberg, somewhat smaller, was poorer, having fallen from greater heights and now producing only corn, rape oil, and wine, and not sufficiently for export.104 In Weimar's hinterland, the feudal open-field system, which was inefficient, could only slowly be got rid of, because it meant the elimination of sheepfarming, and sheep's wool was needed for the textile shops of nearby Apolda. As a consequence, insufficient crops were produced for human consumption, as well as inadequate feedstuff for cattle. The reform-minded Karl August attempted to encourage modern farming methods, but was hampered by traditional manor rights favoring the outlying estate owners, and himself played havoc with the fields by chasing over them with his hunting packs. Fertilizer shortage was chronic, the peasants themselves were overtaxed, abused for the hunts, and possessed no extra capital to invest in homestead improvement.105

The Apolda stocking weavers supported the most significant economic enterprise in the entire duchy, predicated on an interdependence with the region's sheep farmers. But this industry was bedeviled by short-sighted planning, curtailed transport, and the vagaries of supply and demand. If in one year, 1779, there was overproduction, after a steady rise in the number of looms, resulting in a surfeit but still not plentiful for export, in most years there was not enough wool for the mills. In the 1780s and ‘90s Apolda's weavers sank into poverty, a situation which is said to have troubled Minister Goethe, although, if that is true, he was not able to avert it.106 And he could do equally little about the mainly state-owned copper and silver mines at Ilmenau, whose operations had been suspended after flooding in 1739. Yet even before that disaster, the mines had not been cost-effective. More money was poured into the venture in the following decades, with the court investing the majority. After a mine rupture in 1796 Goethe wasted all of his time in Ilmenau on resurrecting an enterprise that was technically rickety and economically not viable.107

Artisans toiled in Weimar, and some worked in the outlying villages, producing wares for home consumption –whatever the local market could bear –but no surplus or a specialty for export. In town, they often had no effective displays, only stalls. Since 1653 every October, a three-day festive onion market was held in the town center, where some extra money could be made by incoming farmers and, perhaps, local artisans. Earning little, (p.21) many of them had to look for second jobs, usually as farmhands in the country; others took to begging, stealing, and violating aristocratic hunt and fishing restrictions.108 And even if farmers, weavers, miners, and handicraftsmen had generated something original for export, they would have faced hurdles in getting their wares out of Weimar and the dukedom. The Ilm was too small a river for shipping –very unlike the Neckar at Heidelberg or the Main of Würzburg, to say nothing of Frankfurt's artery. The main land traffic went through Buttelstedt ten miles to the north of Weimar, where the post-and-coach monopoly had its nearest branch. So for national trade and commerce, Weimar was at the end of the world, even though for its needs as a town and a court, it lacked self-sufficiency.109

The court constituted by far the largest single industry in town, and although it continued to subsist on a deficit economy, it was always the largest employer. There was in fact overemployment, for instance in the army; Weimar had been a garrison town since 1753. Nevertheless, Goethe once succeeded in reducing the size of the infantry from as many as 500 to 250 men. He also cut down on the grossly overblown expenditures in court and princely stables, lowering the annual budget from 59,000 to 30,000 taler. But these were only drops in the bucket, for expenses for other items bypassed these treasuries –inevitably, since court and private funds often were mixed –what with the consumption of luxury items such as genuine Raphael sketches having to be bought for the court at the Leipzig Fair and all manner of foodstuffs ferried to the princely tables! But when surrounding municipalities needed firefighting equipment, the money was not there. All told, systematic infrastructure financing did not exist.110

The second-largest source of employment in town was a socio-economic phenomenon, unique for its time not just in Weimar but in all of Germany; however, it could make little difference to the overall demographic picture. As a young man, the native Weimarer Friedrich Justin Bertuch founded Weimar's first modern industrial compound, based on mercantilist principles. Bertuch had initially assisted Wieland with the publication of his Teutsche Merkur, but soon struck out on his own, creating a fashion journal, and from there branching out with a publishing company, an artificial-flower factory employing hundreds, and banking. His aim was to connect Weimar's modest commerce to the rest of Germany and to the world, and he himself eventually became well known beyond Weimar's narrow confines. But, on the cusp of modern capitalism, Bertuch was hampered by outmoded guild rules, by a complex system of tolls and tariffs, and by the sheer personal envy of his fellow citizens. Goethe, who was two years younger, had only contempt for him, because Bertuch too was ambitious as (p.22) an author and editor. Still, this did not prevent the privy councillor from availing himself of Bertuch's services when expedient. In this case Schiller, too, showed arrogance. Although he benefited frequently from the entrepreneur's personal advice, he scoffed at him after Bertuch had suggested some kind of loose commercial partnership –in publishing. “The man deludes himself that we are on common ground,” Schiller sneered, “yet I will not quite break off with him.” After all, the poet of German Idealism thought that Bertuch could be of use to him in difficult times.111

The weavers of stockings in the pre-capitalist cottage industry of Apolda and, where there were remnants, of Weimar itself, constituted a preindustrial proletariat that existed below subsistence level.112 They earned well below 100 taler a year, a fraction of the salary of Privy Councillor Goethe.113 Unskilled miners in Ilmenau, many peasants, and untrained farmhands tended to earn even less, living in desolate poverty.114 Despite assurances by recent Goethe apologists that he was sympathetic to such a plight, his sympathy was merely rhetorical.115 Evidence shows that this foe of the French Revolution was unable to aid the miners and that he helped in the repression of economically straitened farmers.116 He also treated his own servants in a miserly fashion, keeping their wages abysmally low.117

Well over one half of the population in and around Weimar belonged to this preindustrial proletariat during the decades of the Golden Age. Not quite a third may be counted as part of the better-off artisanal, merchant, and lower-professional stratum, earning between 100 and 400 taler annually. An upper layer of seasoned professionals, wealthy rentiers, and lower nobility made between 400 and 1,000 taler, and the elite comprised merely 2 percent, with more than 1,000 taler a year. Those top people were mostly at court, whereas the resident geniuses such as Wieland and Schiller straddled social classes –sometimes, like Schiller, in steady upward mobility. Schoolteachers were often at 100 taler –their impoverishment was proverbial –and Jena professors rarely above 300. When Hufeland was still employed by the court as a young physician, he earned no more than 100 taler, and only 200 more when teaching at the university.118

This second and third stratum of burghers was growing, to make up what later was called the Mittelstand, or middle class.119 In classical Weimar, the divisions between the second stratum and the lower class on the one hand, and the third stratum and the upper class on the other were rigid (more so for the first -mentioned). At court, only members of the fourth and highest stratum were permitted, and the theater auditorium was divided between the right side, where the titled nobility took seats, and the left side, where burghers could sit –unlike the nobles, they had to pay for (p.23) admission.120 This seemingly insignificant example shows how important it was even for the idealistic thinkers of Weimar to constantly move up. Before long, there was pressure on Schiller and then also on Herder to obtain standing in the nobility (as Goethe had done early, effortlessly): both excused their self-serving quests, Schiller with the argument that his originally aristocratic wife needed it (she never lost her haughtiness), Herder with economic reasoning.121 Wieland abstained but, not coincidentally, he was the most enthusiastic and enduring supporter of the French Revolution.

As far as women of all strata were concerned, they were expected to get married or stay with their relatives. Women from the best families could enter abbeys or perform services at court in exchange for room and board; those of the proletariat worked as maids. It was through the function of maids, unmarried women without means, and wealthy matriarchs that more details about Goethe's personality, and in particular his attitude toward society, can be revealed here. There was, for example, his role in the execution of child murderess Johanna Catharina Höhn, from the village of Tannroda, outside Weimar. On April 11, 1783, this twenty-three-year-old maid serving in a Weimar mill killed her newborn baby boy with the knife she had used to cut the umbilical cord. She was later arrested, tried for murder and found guilty. The case eventually came before the Privy Council on which Goethe was serving, along with Baron von Fritsch and a third member. It was supposed to advise Duke Karl August in the matter of the penalty: should Höhn be condemned to death or could the penalty be commuted to life imprisonment? Indeed, could she even receive a pardon? Von Fritsch was for mercy, whereas the third member, a known conservative, pleaded for the death penalty. Karl August leaned toward mercy as well; as an enlightened ruler he had in fact been looking for such an opportunity to set a precedent. Goethe's therefore was the decisive vote. He, who knew the intentions of his master well, asked for a week's delay and then pronounced in favor of the death sentence. On November 28 Johanna was beheaded in a public square, near the Erfurt Gate.122

These proceedings throw light not only on the liberal-leaning Karl August, but, in contrast, also on his conservative minister Goethe. Goethe's vote against Höhn is today surprising especially in view of his treatment of Margarethe in his original version of Faust, then already written: she suffers a similar fate, yet one that Goethe, the poet, sorely deplores. He sees in Margarethe the innocent victim of cruel conditions she cannot control; mitigating circumstances should have called for her life to be spared.123 In parallel, these circumstances could again have been observed in Höhn's (p.24) case. Like Margarethe, she had been seduced by a man, in this case presumably a farmhand (whom she would not name, but perhaps it was the miller himself), who had left her in the lurch. She had killed her child because the miller couple she worked for had not observed their duty, namely to look after her as a member of the family, even with child, which was called for by the post-feudal agrarian constitution at that time.124 She had clearly acted out of desperation, in panic, not knowing how she could fend for herself and the child, especially once she lost her job. She had, after all, shown her pregnant belly to the miller's wife beforehand, obviously in a gesture seeking help. Hers had not therefore been an act of murder, but of manslaughter, at the most. And she had confessed. At the time of her deed and subsequent trial she could not have known that the government was already contemplating reforms and that hers could be a test case toward such progress. But Goethe knew, and Goethe clearly voted against this progress, and hence against what he had professed as an idealistic young man and, certainly, against women. To put it more succinctly, he voted against lower-class women, albeit legally correctly, for as the trained jurist that he was he acted in accordance with the code. Yet morally his decision was objectionable, as the thinker and writer whose calling it was to teach lessons in humanity –one of the classical ideals.125

Goethe's own sexuality is still not fully clarified, the less so, as one cannot tie it to a social-class system. He did not have normal heterosexual intercourse until he was in Italy at the age of thirty-nine. It may have been with a young Roman widow called Faustina whom he was sexually attracted to and who received financial compensation for her services. Alternatively, it could have been with several young Italian women (in which case “Faustina” would serve merely as a cipher).126 For Goethe, “Faustina” served the purpose of a “sex clinic.”127 In any event, after his return to Weimar in 1788 Goethe met Christiane Vulpius, the daughter of a pauperized family, whose archivist father had died of drink. She was toiling in Bertuch's artificial-flower shop, when Goethe fell instantly in love with her and took her home, to his garden house near the Ilm river, as his mistress. A son, August, was born to them in 1789.128

These relationships, with women below his own social station, are juxtaposed to Goethe's professed love of the married Baroness Charlotte von Stein, who was his intimate from 1776 to 1786. An intimate, however, whom he knew carnally only up to a strictly defined physical limit, probably kisses on the mouth.129 If Goethe wished to preserve his virginity in the close company of a highborn lady, the corollary is that he valued full sexual relations only with the lower classes. If sex constituted an act of (p.25) defilement (rather than of romantic affection or for the sake of procreation), it was a measure of social estimation as applied to or withheld from women clearly identifiable as of lower, middle or upper class. But these are idle conjectures, especially in light of the fact that Goethe really did desire Frau von Stein. Did she desire him? So far, we have no conclusive explanation of why their love was never sexually consummated.

The Theory and Practice of Classical Harmony

Weimar's men of genius adhered to the classical ideal of ancient Rome and especially Greece, which suggested to them harmony and humanity and, for Goethe and Schiller in their mature years of cooperation, an escape from the real, imperfect, world. They had taken their cue from Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the son of a shoemaker, who was murdered in Trieste in June 1768 by his male lover, an impoverished cook. Supported by a modest Saxon pension, Winckelmann had become enthralled by Rome and with it the Greek concept of beauty. In Italy he savored antiquarian treasures and in 1755 published his Reflections, which hugely influenced the German intellectuals. He became the foremost art expert of his time.130 His impact on Goethe throughout the poet's life cannot be overestimated; Goethe was impressed by this scholar's unrelenting quest. As much as Winckelmann roamed around in all fields of knowledge, wrote Goethe admiringly, “sooner or later he always returned to antiquity, especially Greek antiquity, with which he felt so akin and with which he would unite in his best days in such a fortuitous manner.”131

In the Golden Age, visitors to Weimar would invariably take their leave with a profound impression of the resident geniuses' affinity with the values of the classics.132 They could understand why these writers themselves were beginning to compare Weimar on the Ilm with the Athens of antiquity, although an occasional ironic undertone may have escaped them. Some of the learned denizens sensed early on that this would be conducive to the formation of myths, which would beget further myths, until there was no end.133

But the manifestations of such an infatuation with the classics were omnipresent, as it intensified over the decades. Heintze had been beholden to the teaching of Greek and Latin in his Gymnasium classes; his family members spoke those languages at the dinner table.134 Wieland translated Horace and published poems in honor of “Olympia” in his Teutsche Merkur. In a letter of 1785, he waxed enthusiastic over the “light Greek spirit,” in which his colleague Herder managed his translations into German from (p.26) the writings of antiquity.135 In Herder's quest for classic harmony and universal humanity, a “return to the measure and norms of antique life” could be best fulfilled by the Greeks.136

In his youth Goethe had wanted to study the classics in Göttingen and was early drawn to Rome. As early as 1773 he published a fragment, Prometheus, in which he developed a blueprint for enlightened government.137 He was ultimately attracted to Weimar because in size and structure it resembled the historic polis of the Greeks –transparent and overseeable, humanely adaptable to man. He himself wanted to become Greek-like not only through his travels south, but also by putting Greek characters like his own Iphigenie on the stage, encouraging his actors to study antiquity and, like Wieland and Herder, delving into classical poets' writings such as Homer's Iliad.138

In conjunction with Schiller after 1794 these efforts centered more exclusively on the cultural and less on the political; officially, Goethe had put his political career behind him. Schiller, who initially had shared Goethe's idealistic view of the polis, preferred to entertain aesthetic notions and, influenced by Kant, questions of morality. He fastened on Greek tragedy. For both the age of antiquity became, increasingly, a refuge from the disorderly cosmos in which they lived (and on which they could wreak little change); high education (Bildung), aesthetics, and art were the ideal. This elitist, escapist, attitude became especially apparent in 1801, after Goethe and Schiller had begun their exclusive gatherings in Goethe's house. Greek subjects of discussion predominated.139

But if the “classical” ideal today evokes balance, harmony, and humanity, those were sometimes absent from the world the denizens of the Golden Age of Weimar inhabited. This is shown by the friction between Goethe and Schiller from before 1787, and then a rivalry that lasted beyond their first year of cooperation, 1794. Die Horen and, even more so, Xenien, targeting philistines, although justified, sowed discord. Goethe's growing haughtiness as a political mandarin and social patrician both belied the aura of caring, understanding, compassion, and love he had conjured up in works such as Werther or Iphigenie. Wieland's vanity was in constant conflict with the righteousness of a Herder, where, in addition, an ironic disregard for religion clashed with an almost bigoted Lutheran piety. The enlightened rulers Anna Amalia and Karl August attracted and attached brilliant minds to their courts, but more by happenstance and at random and, latterly, without their own doing (as with Schiller). Those very courts were in administrative insecurity, financial indebtedness, and bereft of vision for remedies, with or without a Goethe. Traditional social etiquette determined interaction at the (p.27) courts and its extensions like the theater, despite the occasional gracious laxity allowed for by the duchess at her sole discretion. Moreover, the social and economic rift between rulers and courtiers and their invited genius guests on the one hand, and the general population of Weimar on the other, was too deep to be bridgeable. To be sure, much of that was a function of its times and there were places, such as Schiller's home court in Württemberg, where matters were much worse, but the type of personal contempt KarlAugust showed for the young entrepreneur Bertuch (whose furnishings he demolished) or the suffering class of peasants (whose fields he needlessly ravished) spoke not of humanity, but callousness.

Specific examples further illustrate the lack of harmonious balance and the absence of human concern for individual members of the community – prime classical values –at least until the death of Schiller, that great champion of people's liberties, in 1805. The savants may have been close to court –at least that was their intention, even Schiller's, who had more difficulty than others. But, despite what they said in their plays or novels, they were not close to ordinary people, who made up the great majority of Weimar's population. Nor did they really care what the people thought, except at the beginning of Karl August's rule, when he and Goethe conjured up artificial bucolic scenarios where, at village festivals, the duke could seduce a maid or two and Goethe looked on with amusement. Athens in Weimar on the Ilm was really only about the few hundred, mostly men, of privilege; the common folk lived next to them without any sense of comprehension, more often materially disadvantaged.140

Goethe, like his friends, disdained August Kotzebue, the author of merely popular plays, while at the same time he had no scruples performing them, precisely because they were so popular and filled the till. Kotzebue came from an established Weimar family and grew up with Hufeland; he had been on the amateur stage with Goethe as a boy. After Goethe had prevented the young lawyer from receiving an administrative position at court, Kotzebue moved to Russia. Later he was banished to Siberia but then was exonerated by the tsar. Kotzebue returned to Weimar with a title and much compensation money, and continued his success as a writer. Goethe, however, still did not deem him worthy of recognition and excluded him from the cour d'amour at his house in 1802. The privy councillor maintained that Weimar was like Japan: next to the worldly court there was a spiritual court, and that would forever be closed to a Kotzebue.141 This judgment may have been premature, for in 1811 Ludwig van Beethoven used Kotzebue's play Ruins of Athens (the classical theme here is notable) to compose incidental music. Kotzebue himself ended tragically. In 1818 he (p.28) moved to Mannheim, only to be stabbed to death there by a fanatical Jena student of theology a year later. The student, who was duly beheaded, had suspected Kotzebue of being a Russian spy in the service of the post-Napoleonic Metternich system of Europe-wide police control.142

Yet another author who fared badly at Goethe's hands was Herder, even though he was a pillar of the literary establishment. The fault was not Goethe's alone because, although really ill with liver and eye afflictions, Herder was a hypochondriac, always dissatisfied and blaming others, lonely, and prone to depression. That Herder would never get used to Heintze's successor Karl August Böttiger, whose never-ending garrulousness got on his nerves, was not the worst of it.143 His initially irenic relationship with Wieland soon became uneasy because each imagined himself as leading a school of thought –Wieland one of skeptics and Herder one of the God-fearing. Caroline Herder in particular detested Wieland. There was friction with Schiller not merely because of their differences over Kant but also because Herder begrudged Schiller his eventual closeness to Goethe and growing critical acclaim. Herder's relations with Karl August remained fractious because the duke overburdened him with work in a hopelessly morose administration, in the school system as in the churches, all for what Herder considered insufficient pay. Herder actually never liked Weimar and was occasionally tempted to consider a university post in Jena or once again Göttingen, which had interested him already when he was in Bückeburg.144

At the beginning of his stay in Weimar in 1776 Herder was still friends with Goethe, and they remained friendly off and on until crisis separated them in the mid-1790s. As irksome as it was for Herder to have Goethe rule above him as a councillor, Goethe had no choice in exercising censorship of Herder's sermons because this formally absolutist state still required it. For his part, Goethe sought to be as benign and tactful as possible, yet this rankled with Herder.145 The French Revolution of 1789 put a dent into the formerly close friendship when the two men found themselves on opposite sides.146 By 1795 Die Horen and then Xenien were appearing, with the latter also taking aim at Herder. By now Johann Gottfried and Caroline Herder wanted Goethe to intervene with Karl August on behalf of scholar-ships for their children, of whom eventually they had eight. At first Goethe reacted scathingly, but in the end came through. When the Herders were already totally isolated, the superintendent of religion began to criticize Goethe's (and Schiller's) frivolity in his writings –Goethe above all was fond of priapisms. Herder died embittered in December of 1803, after he and Goethe had exchanged one last round of barbs.147

(p.29) The classical idea of harmony suffered further as reflected by the fate of Christiane Vulpius, Goethe's partner. There was discord all around her, ever since Goethe had met her in the park on the Ilm during July 1788, as she was delivering a note from her underemployed brother Christian August, a writer of romance novelettes. Goethe tried to find a situation for him and took the twenty-three-year-old in as his mistress and housekeeper. As events unfolded, he himself contributed to the complications that developed, mainly by exacerbating her unfortunate status of social ostracism.148

The girl came from an impoverished, downtrodden family; some ancestors had been pastors and jurists, her father a low-grade state archivist. She had to help support the family, including a sister, by working for Bertuch, so moving in with Goethe meant an immediate economic benefit to her. She was a bit on the heavy side; actress Karoline Jagemann described her as “a very pretty, friendly, industrious girl, with a fresh face, round like an apple and with burning black eyes, and since she liked to laugh, her some-what upturned cherry-red lips showed two rows of beautiful white teeth, with dark-brown luscious curls adorning her forehead and shoulders.”149

Christiane's moving in with Goethe and the illegitimate birth of their son gave rise not only to all manner of vicious gossip among the townspeople regarding the privy councillor, usually perceived as haughty, but even more so about his lover. The most cutting judgments came from men and women who were close to Goethe, who were at the core of the classical community stylized as a Muses' Court. The prudish Herder couple, despite better knowledge, condemned Christiane as a “whore,” and Böttiger named her “Vulpia,” in sarcastic allusion to the Latin term for female genitalia, an injurious sobriquet in fact which soon was on everyone's lips, in learned and cultured Weimar.150 Weimar worthies started noticing that Christiane was putting on weight and, not entirely unjustly, blamed this on a hankering for wine. One who relished repeating this particular charge was Charlotte von Stein, Goethe's ex-lady friend, for whom Vulpius was a natural enemy. Stein was on intimate terms with Charlotte Schiller, who adored the older woman, having once wanted to be, like her, a lady-in-waiting. There was no end to Frau Schiller's guffawing about poor Christiane. Even as Friedrich Schiller drew closer to his idol Goethe, he decried his spiritual friend's choice of women and marital arrangement; never did he convey greetings or remember himself to Christiane. Even the duke thought he had to punish Goethe for this breach of convention, by taking his (loaned) house on the Frauenplan from him for the duration of three years. Duchess Luise complained when little August was carried outside for fresh air, in a place where he would offend her eyes.151

(p.30) The End of Classical Weimar

Historians as well as experts on German literature agree that with Friedrich von Schiller's death of complications from tuberculosis in 1805 the classical period of Weimar came to an end. Wieland died in 1813 and from then until his own death in 1832, Goethe was the sole representative of the Golden Age.152

He certainly also was, always, the most important. Even circumstances beyond his control, such as intermittent lags in creativity, Schiller's or his own problems with health, or the protracted insults he had to suffer because of his union with Christiane Vulpius, could not change that. Neither could political circumstances, such as the reverberations of the French Revolution in German lands. But with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte and his physical presence in Weimar in the fall of 1806 this could have changed, had Goethe come to harm in any way. His by now beloved home town of Weimar, however, did have to suffer.

In the course of Napoleon's campaign against the Holy Roman Empire with the arch-duchy of Austria at its core and Prussia, with whom several German states were allied, the duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach had sided with Prussia. By July 1806 Napoleon had forged the Confederation of the Rhine, a union of pro-French German states with himself as “Protector.” In August Napoleon exerted enough pressure on Emperor Franz II to surrender the Holy Roman Imperial crown, but Franz had already declared himself Emperor of Austria two years earlier. Karl August was at that time a Prussian general, and had joined 700 Weimar sharpshooters with Prussian units outside of Weimar. Anna Amalia, too, had left for Kassel, so that Duchess Luise was alone in the residential castle. By early October, Prussian troops could be seen in Weimar, and Prussian generals were staying in the castle, as French-led armies were advancing perilously close, from the East.153

Those generals left in time for Jena to take part in the defense of the area, as Napoleon attacked on the morning of October 14. His marshals had managed during the night to drag heavy artillery to the top of an embankment so that soldiers under French command could fire their cannons right into the advancing Prussians below. The Battle of Jena and nearby Auerstedt turned into a disaster for the soldiers of the Prussian-led alliance, who were fleeing in disarray, many passing screaming through Weimar's market square. They were followed closely by French soldiers, a lot of whom impressed Weimar's citizens as ferocious, because they were unkempt, wore dirty sack-like cloth, and carried large spoons on their three-cornered hats. During that day and on the 15th, they raped the (p.31) women, plundered houses, destroyed the interiors, and capriciously laid fires. Had the wind changed, Weimar would have been obliterated in a firestorm. As it turned out, many burghers were able to save themselves by lying low and prudently hosting hungry invaders, as did Johanna Schopenhauer, a well-off widow who with her daughter Adele had moved into town from Danzig in the spring. Goethe on the Frauenplan withdrew to rooms upstairs; he had expected to host a French general. As the great man was accosted by dangerous spoon men, Christiane bravely threw herself in front of him, possibly saving his life. The troops caused only a little damage to his home, and thereafter Marshal Jean Lannes, one of Napoleon's bravest, protected him. Others were not so lucky. Christiane's brother, the writer, lost virtually everything and Melchior Kraus, teacher at the drawing school, was roughed up so badly that he died three weeks later. Altogether, no more than twenty houses had been left standing completely untouched; several of Weimar's burghers were ruined.154

Meanwhile on October 15 Napoleon entered the castle intending to stay for a couple of days, but found only Duchess Luise, who was with Charlotte von Schiller. The emperor was chagrined because Karl August had not joined his Confederation, and demanded an explanation. Luise bravely tried to explain why her husband had been impelled to be with the Prussians –it had been out of loyalty toward his Prussian relatives, and was that not an honorable motive? Weimar's fate now hung in the balance for, bereft of a Holy Roman Empire and not part of the Rhenish union, its duchy was all on its own. As he had done with Electoral Hesse, Napoleon could have decided that the small duchy be joined to another state (to make it part of his Confederation).155 But he granted Weimar a short respite, knowing that Luise's sister was married to Margrave Karl Friedrich of Baden, a staunch Confederation supporter, and that her daughter-in-law Maria Pavlovna, wife of the crown prince Carl Friedrich, was a sister of Tsar Alexander I, whom Napoleon courted. (Both Carl Friedrich and his wife were also away at this time.) In December Karl August along with the other three Saxon duchies did join the Rhenish alliance. He had to pay expensive reparations and contribute Weimar troops to Napoleon's army, who would later fight and die in Tyrol, Spain, and on the infamous Russian campaign.156

Goethe reacted to all this with an equanimity that few could comprehend, but which illustrated once again not only that he was a highly independent thinker but also that he followed a logic which was idiosyncratically elitist. First, he decided to legally wed Christiane, in gratitude for her having risked her life for him. The ceremony took place in the Jakob Church on (p.32) October 19 and immediately became the butt of jokes in Weimar circles high and low.157 Second, he resolved to express his respect to Napoleon –in a manner that would be visible to all but might also generate some rewards for himself. Goethe, summoned by Karl August, in October 1808 met with the emperor in nearby Erfurt (which, being Prussian since 1802, was French-dominated after 1806 and had joined the Confederation). Napoleon was holding court there in his capacity of Protector and received Goethe on October 2, 1808, during breakfast. According to Gustav Seibt's meticulous research, Goethe stayed for approximately half an hour. Napoleon conversed with him first about theater and literature, including Goethe's Werther, and then about the poet's personal circumstances and his relationship to the Weimar court. The emperor's admiring judgment of Goethe was: “Vous êtes un homme.” It was obvious that the emperor had read Werther, and Goethe was frankly delighted. Wieland met Napoleon there on October 10, and both Wieland and Goethe later were awarded the Cross of the French Legion of Honor. Goethe proceeded to wear his proudly for “mein Kaiser,” as he was now wont to say.158 Why was Goethe so enamored of Napoleon? As Peter Merseburger has suggested, Goethe hated anarchy, he recognized in Napoleon a new, dynamic force that had done away with the excrescences of the Revolution and was promising to create something new, something orderly in Europe, an alternative to the corrupt Ancien Régime or the moribund structures of the Holy Roman Empire which, as Goethe also knew, had long been overdue.159

In the following years Karl August had to seek a balanced policy, as Prussia was pushing his little dukedom against France, with whom he was allied through the Confederation. This he managed astonishingly well until October 1813, when Prussia, Austria, and Russia defeated Napoleon decisively at Leipzig. At this point the strategically astute duke decided to change front again, siding with the anti-Napoleonic forces and eventually gaining for himself a seat at the Congress of Vienna, where he was elevated to the status of grand duke. After territorial redivisions, his dukedom was doubled in size. That he was not punished for his wavering must have been due to his Russian relations, who were looking out for him. At Vienna in 1914–15, a new federation of sovereign German states called the Deutsche Bund was now increased from the 36 members of Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine to (eventually) 39, including three Free Cities. Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach was a fully independent member, albeit, like the others, nominally under Austrian control.160

One of the mandates handed by Prince Metternich to the German states now organized in the Deutsche Bund was constitutional reform, and (p.33) Karl August was the first potentate to realize it. His chief motive stemmed not so much from a desire for democracy as from the need to accommodate the newly won territories. Hence it now became possible to send elected representatives to a Landtag (legislative assembly): manor owners, burghers, and peasants with property. They received a say in tax policy and financial administration, and all new laws had to be approved by them. Law courts were now to be completely independent. Perhaps the most important reform was the introduction of press freedom. Even though there was henceforth little opposition to the ruler's policies and in practice he retained virtually all of his prerogatives, the conservative Goethe was less than excited about the new measures.161

These innovations of 1814–15 were followed in 1823 by new regulations concerning the residency of Jews, who had not yet been declared the equal of Christian burghers. There were thirty-six of them in Weimar in 1814, and sprinklings in other places, the most prominent being Jacob Elkan, who acted as a supplier of textiles to the court, and Gabriel Ulman, who was its arms broker. As was common at most German courts, they lived and worked under the special protection of the ruler, usually paying a defined tax. Because of the land gains after 1814, the entire grand duchy thereafter was home to 1,200 Jews. While no new arrivals from outside were tolerated, those in the duchy now gained occupational freedom, their religious congregations were officially recognized and government-regulated, Gymnasien and universities were opened to them, and marriage between Jews and Christians was permitted. This last measure once again was too much for Goethe, who asked if Weimar “in all areas” had to be a pioneer of the grotesque. Whereas Goethe did not hate the Jews, he was not, and had never been, a champion of them, either.162

The grand duchy in 1816 had grown to nearly 200,000 inhabitants, with Weimar itself almost 8,000 strong. By the time of the pro-Jewish decrees Weimar supported a population of over 9,000, increasing to over 10,000 around the time of Goethe's death.163 Economically and socially, however, little had progressed. Goethe, who was not even a full-time administrator any more, now received 3,100 taler a year and hence was the richest employee. By contrast housemaids, small retailers, gendarmes, messengers, and choir members, to say nothing of many small pensioners, still lived on under 100 taler.164 Bertuch continued to be the richest man in town, and his businesses flourished in various ways. Enthusiastically enlightened as he was, he could take advantage of the many new ideas emanating from the Industrial Revolution, whose aura was drifting eastward from British shores. On the banks of the Ilm, whoever was earning (p.34) any decent money was, more often than not, working for the court. Weimar became, ever more, a court and rentier town, with shops of small dimensions and vestiges of agricultural activity. In the countryside, it was still not uncommon for a cow rather than a horse to do the ploughing, and even farmers' wives had to pull the hoe. But the cattle-feed situation had improved, and new staples were being farmed, such as potatoes. More meat and milk were being consumed by everyone, an indication that on the whole the standard of living was improving, however gradually.165

There was a political regime change in 1828 which benefitted Weimar socioeconomically, because of the beneficence of the new ruler's wife. On Karl August's death in June of that year his son Carl Friedrich succeeded him, and while he himself, if well-intentioned, was mentally slow, his Russian-born wife Maria Pavlovna had a keen intellect paired with a social conscience. Since she had arrived in Weimar very rich, she was able to put much of her own money to communal use, founding a savings bank, furthering adult education and training, and looking after orphans. Of long-term significance was the money she invested in the care of trees and parks, for this both aided employment and helped Weimar's growing image as the green heart in the green-forested center of Germany.166 This drew more and more visitors, who also wanted to see Goethe, and the monuments of the classics.

The monuments of the classics? Indeed, Weimar had already begun to memorialize itself; it had started the process of becoming a living museum. Goethe himself did much to encourage this, because he knew he would be at the center of such cultification. He was only too painfully aware that since Schiller's death cultural institutions and intellectual intercourse in the town had been wilting –one reason why he was able to return to his own explorations in natural science and literary activity with renewed vigor, having suffered creative inertia upon Schiller's passing.167

There were accomplishments in culture, at the court and in the town of Weimar and even in Goethe's house, when he invited musicians such as the young Felix Mendelssohn from Berlin, from 1821 on. Yet many of these were substandard; the peaks of perfection in the classical Golden Age were not even close. In the music scene a number of undistinguished conductors and choirmasters were signed on, but their attempts at orchestral quality were hampered by insufficiently trained musicians who were demoralized by meager pay. Often the children of musicians and military bandsmen joined in, which hardly improved the music. In 1819 Johann Nepomuk Hummel was hired as court music director; he had been the last pupil of Mozart and was a friend of Beethoven. He was reputed to be the leading pianist of his (p.35) time and was able to attract, as guest soloists, such international stars as the violinist Niccolò Paganini and soprano Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, but often lesser artists. In opera, the bassist Karl Stromeyer and Karl August's mistress Karoline Jagemann determined repertoire and quality of performances. Since Jagemann, despite her increasing age and rounded figure, would not let go of key roles on the stage, most operas presented, such as the works of Mozart, Rossini, and Weber, were less than satisfactory.168

In theater, Goethe continued his directorship, after the turmoil of Weimar's fall, in December 1806 unperturbed, but he was beginning to be opposed by a clique of artists around Stromeyer and Jagemann. In 1816, after artists supporting him had left for Berlin, Goethe found himself almost completely isolated. When in 1817 a poodle was scheduled to play a role on stage in a new French comedy, the poet was mortified. After his ultimatum went unheeded, he handed in his resignation as director to the grand duke who, under Jagemann's influence, accepted it. Goethe never entered the Weimar stage again.169 From there things went downhill fast. “Our theater is getting worse every day,” lamented Johanna Schopenhauer in December 1821, adding that Goethe's motto had become “after me, the deluge,” and even the grand duke had withdrawn interest.170 Five years later she complained about insignificant translations of French plays being featured on the stage, and two years after that, under a bevy of mediocre directors, she had given the theater up for good.171

In place of high-quality opera and theater Weimar embarked on carnivalesque activities, which were meant as homage to the vaunted culture of yesteryear. In 1809 a youthful “Genius of Weimar” walked in front of classically attired girls in a festive procession, carrying in their baskets objects from the works of geniuses, such as Wilhelm Tell's apple or Herder's palm leaves, to be presented to Duchess Luise. In 1813 celebratory pageants (lebende Bilder) were staged, groups of humans modeling classicist scenes, such as Apollo surrounded by the Muses, replete with fauns, nymphs, and a river god. Weimar culture was degenerating into kitsch, and Goethe even lent a hand to some of this.172

It was a partial contribution to the ongoing memorialization of classical Weimar, from which he would handily profit. He turned his own residence into a museum not only by virtue of the visitors he deigned to receive there, but also by the jours fixes, on which he lectured on color theory or geology or showed his art collection.173 When Anna Amalia died in April 1807 he offered to write eulogies, to preserve Weimar properly in the chronicles of the dynasties and with that, preserve himself.174 By 1809 he had begun to compose his autobiography, Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit.175 (p.36) Maria Pavlovna became a regular visitor to his “museum,” and in October 1821 she surprised Goethe with a monument to himself in the so-called Princess Garden in nearby Jena.176 In 1825 the inception of Karl August's reign was celebrated, no less than the golden service anniversary of Minister Goethe. Two years later Schiller's remains were ceremoniously transferred to the princely crypt.177 Goethe himself commented on such historicization, as in 1814, when he admitted to thematizing his life and mirroring himself historically. In December 1831, a few months before his death, he wrote to Wilhelm Humboldt that “I appear to myself to be ever more historical.”178

Probably one of the most positive aspects of the Weimar period from 1805 to 1832 was that Goethe was able to complete what he had started as a thinker and poet and what in combination with the earlier achievements went a long way in defining the Golden Age. Hence Goethe finished the first part of Faust, and the second was ready in manuscript form shortly before he died. Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit was an ongoing project of the last decades in his life, presenting, in four parts, the history of his youth until his move from Frankfurt. He had also published the final version of his Wilhelm Meister novel, Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre, by 1829.179 As an old man he embarked on new projects too, such as the West-Östlicher Divan, poems based on the work of the Persian bard Hafez.

In addition, his exploits in natural science were remarkable, adding to his lifetime and posthumous fame as the foremost of the Weimar savants. Already he had discovered the human intermaxillary bone, in 1784, independently of others before him; the existence of this bone in the human skull proved man's biological relationship to mammals –a pre-Darwinian feat! Now, his geological examinations became manifestly legendary as his collection of rock samples was increasing. Those had undoubtedly been inspired by his preoccupation with the Ilmenau mining venture.180 Still, even while he was alive, the most serious criticism was reserved for his theory of colors, which, fully published in 1810, went squarely against Sir Isaac Newton. Goethe did not use mathematical tools as Newton had done, which is why to this day he is said to have been ascientific. Yet as sagacious a scientist as Nobel laureate Werner Heisenberg has attested that his color theory was “of multiple consequence in art, physiology, and aesthetics.”181

Keeping busy with his work and being looked after well by Christiane until her death in 1816, Goethe did not socialize much in his final years. His circle of friends decreased; among the remaining ones was the trusted Johanna Schopenhauer, whose regular salon he would frequent, especially as she found it in her heart to tolerate Christiane, with Goethe usually (p.37) sitting in a corner by himself and sketching. He gave the occasional formal dinner and graciously received visitors, some of them renowned. Goethe as a municipal tourist attraction is mentioned as early as 1830. The Olympian was becoming a fixture of Weimar in its process of ossification.182

There were crisis points in his development toward old age. Like Herder, he was something of a hypochondriac, always fearing illness. He had nasty altercations with Wieland, his only rival in town until 1813. And as Goethe got older, he was becoming more argumentative and generally hard to bear. To contradict him was unwise, for he was always in the right.183 He treated former friends strangely, including Charlotte von Schiller, whom he had treasured as a young girl and whose children he should have supported financially. Yet from her he sought to withhold royalties from the publication of his correspondence with her husband Friedrich.184 Eyebrows were raised when Goethe, through influence in high places, had his son August exempted from war service in 1813, although August had volunteered for the front.185 And he showed opportunism when after Napoleon's Leipzig defeat in that year he tried to obtain an Austrian order, so he could dispense with the French one the emperor had given him.186 Eventually Goethe possessed at least four major medals he could wear on every occasion just as the situation called for: the Austrian and the French orders, a Russian and the arch-ducal Weimar one as well.

Goethe's greatest personal crisis happened when Christiane died; he always reached the limit of his composure when death was near him. She had been suffering from kidney failure for some time and expired in great pain on June 6, 1816. Goethe chose not to be with her when she died, claiming to be sick himself, and he did not attend her funeral, as he had not attended Schiller's.187 He himself passed away on March 22, 1832, of natural causes. He was eighty-two. With him died the German classic age and the most substantial part of the town of Weimar.

By way of a reprise: with all its unevenness and inconsistencies, the period in Weimar from 1770 to 1832 justly bears the name “Golden Age.” It was unique in the history of civilization in that four geniuses simultaneously converged on a hitherto unknown little town and elevated it to great heights. That this town, surrounded by a small but manageable principality, should have been ruled by enlightened and empathetic monarchs lent added impetus. Together the four men, who were inspired by ideals of classical antiquity, made original literary, philosophical, linguistic, and natural-scientific contributions that had the potential for revolutionizing conventional modes of human interaction. The fact that Goethe towered over his three consociates, their work and their legacies, till 1832, as the (p.38) most astute and the longest-living, lends the entire phenomenon of classical Weimar a special significance.

Nonetheless, despite its Golden Age nimbus, Weimar possessed, from the beginnings of its rise to greatness, weaknesses that may have made it appear more human in the eyes even of contemporary chroniclers. Its economic infrastructure was more tenuous than that of other German towns of comparable size, while the social divide was as gaping. Whereas the intellectual and artistic output of its savants was stellar and set records internationally, interpersonal relationships between those savants were often inharmonious. Further, Weimar was top-heavy with an artificially pumped up princely administration and, apart from the foreign-born thinkers, a mass of undistinguished denizens underneath. This socio-political structure the French invasion under Napoleon could not change, and possibly exacerbated. Within both segments –the bureaucracy and the governed –lay the seeds of political reaction which, if strong enough, could reduce Weimar to banality and ordinariness. This was the case once the great men had vanished and Weimar faced challenges in regaining the pinnacle of its classical achievements. It was to become one of the leading themes of its subsequent history.


(1) . Hufeland, Leibarzt, 50, 72.

(2) . “About the True Conception of Classical Authority” (Walter, “Herder,” 37). Also Francke, Geschichte, 71; Heintze, Chronik, 18.

(3) . Heintze, Chronik, 66.

(4) . Bruford, Germany, 250; Francke, Geschichte, 140.

(5) . Walter, “Herder,” 37–39, 45; Francke, Geschichte, 72–74, 78–86, 90–94, 110–16.

(6) . Walter, “Herder,” 45; Kühn, Weimar, 83–84.

(7) . Heintze, Chronik, 22.

(8) . Ibid. 18; Francke, Geschichte, 73–74, 78; Bode, Musenhof, 117.

(9) . De Staël, Germany, 141–43; Bode, Musenhof, 90–93.

(10) . Günzel, Fürstenhaus, 63.

(11) . Messner, Nationaltheater: Anfängen, 8; Huschke, Musik, 20. On salary: Zaremba, Herder, 162.

(12) . Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 89; Berger, Anna Amalia, 93.

(13) . Hufeland, Leibarzt, 68; Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 89. Also see Hinderer, “Classicism.”

(14) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 240; Seemann, Anna Amalia.

(15) . This principle is aptly articulated in Berger, Anna Amalia, 63–64.

(16) . Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 26; Safranski, Goethe, 21.

(17) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, vii, viii (quote), ix, 6.

(18) . De Staël, Germany, 157.

(19) . Haufe, Humboldt, 151.

(20) . Nietzsche, Menschliches, 118, 360.

(21) . Jaspers, “Menschlichkeit,” 79.

(22) . Scholz, Seele, 255–59.

(23) . Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 114–15.

(24) . Böttiger, Zustände, 67; Koopmann, Stein, 28.

(25) . Bode, Musenhof, 167; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 194–95.

(26) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 246, 251; Borchmeyer, Klassik, 50.

(27) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 240–45; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 117.

(28) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 249.

(29) . Bode, Musenhof, 169, Wieland quoted Ibid.; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 116.

(30) . Bode, Musenhof, 198; Koopmann, Stein, 28.

(31) . Hufeland, Leibarzt, 45–46; Bode, Musenhof, 169; Kühn, Weimar, 52.

(32) . Vehse, Hof, 49.

(33) . Böttiger, Zustände, 289–90 (quote); Steiner/Kühn-Stillmark, Bertuch, 48–49.

(34) . Bode, Musenhof, 190–91; Zaremba, Herder, 111, 152–53, 161–62.

(35) . Hufeland, Leibarzt, 52–53, 77; Francke, Geschichte, 87–88; Richter, Herder, 193.

(36) . Irmscher, Herder, 26–28; Richter, Herder, 194; Zaremba, Herder, 211, 216, 219–22.

(37) . Francke, Geschichte, 135–36.

(38) . Kühn, Weimar, 38; Zaremba, Herder, 112, 222;Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 72–73; Tobler (May 1781) and Wieland (May 1785) in Richter, Herder, 212–13, 238–39.

(39) . Vehse, Hof, 52; Dreise-Beckmann, “Musikleben,” 68.

(40) . Bode, Musenhof, 193–95; Ventzke, “Hofökonomie,” 20.

(41) .Bruford, Germany, 84–85.

(42) . Berger, Anna Amalia, 75–76; Dreise-Beckmann, “Musikleben,” 63–64.

(43) . Messner, Nationaltheate: Anfängen, 6.

(44) . Kühn, Weimar, 26.

(45) . Berger, Anna Amalia, 245–49; Berger, “Rückzug,” 138.

(46) . Bruford, Germany, 29–34.

(47) . Vehse, Hof, 151–52; Bode, Musenhof, 196.

(48) . See Müller-Seidel, Geschichtlichkeit, 37.

(49) . Kühn, Weimar, 85–86.

(50) . Günther et al., Weimar, 21, 79, 285.

(51) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 252; Wilson, Goethe-Tabu, 31.

(52) . Vehse, Hof, 71.

(53) . Ventzke, “Hofökonomie,” 21–48.

(54) . Goethe on February 24, 1784, in Fiala, Amtstätigkeit, 8–10; Willy Flach Ibid., 17; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 109–10; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 253–54.

(55) . For background, see Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte: Erster Band, 218–40, 254–67.

(56) . Wilson, Goethe-Tabu, 51–66, 94–116, 182–83, 205–35, 243–48.

(57) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 252; 199; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 138; Vaget, Dilettantismus, 55–63.

(58) . Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 80; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 138–39.

(59) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 343; Messner, Nationaltheater: Anfängen, 17–21; Dreise-Beckmann, “Musikleben,” 70; Conrady, Goethe, vol. 1, 393–401.

(60) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 94–95, vol. 2, 204–5; Böttiger, Zustände, 33; Sengle, Goethe, 28, 239.

(61) . Messner, Nationaltheater: Anfängen, 22–25; Damm, Christiane, 155.

(62) . Safranski, Schiller, 202, 262–63; Borchmeyer, Klassik, 212.

(63) . Schmidt-Möbus/Möbus, Kulturgeschichte, 152;

(64) . Safranski, Schiller, 133, 202–3; Damm, Schiller, 98; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 220.

(65) . Günther, Weimar, 52; Damm, Schiller, 97.

(66) . Zaremba, Wieland, 196, 203.

(67) . Vehse, Hof, 96; Damm, Schiller, 70, 77–78; Safranski, Goethe, 52.

(68) . Zaremba, Herder, 212; Damm, Schiller, 77, 144–45.

(69) . Damm, Schiller, 142.

(70) . Borchmeyer, Klassik, 213–17; Safranski, Schiller, 271–73, 341–42.

(71) . Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 103; Damm, Schiller, 100, 115–16; Safranski, Goethe, 69–70.

(72) . Borchmeyer, Klassik, 214.

(73) . Humboldt to Georg Forster, January 10, 1790, in Haufe, Humboldt, 27.

(74) . Unseld, Goethe, 245–46; Safranski, Schiller, 342; Damm, Schiller, 140–41.

(75) . Damm, Schiller, 97–99; Safranski, Schiller, 300–3 (Schiller quoted 303).

(76) . Hans-Jürgen Schings in SZ, October 13, 2009.

(77) . Safranski, Goethe, 100–3, Schiller's letter quoted 100.

(78) . Damm, Schiller, 145–46, 152; Safranski, Schiller, 314, 329, 363; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 200–1; Vaget, “Wilson,” 344.

(79) . Goeken, Herder, 93–94; Zaremba, Herder, 208; Berger, Anna Amalia, 206.

(80) . Damm, Schiller, 200; Safranski, Schiller, 402–3; Friedenthal, Goethe, 357 (quote).

(81) .Barner, “Goethe,” 79; Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 138–39; Safranski, Schiller, 422.

(82) . Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 138; Safranski, Schiller, 422.

(83) . Damm, Schiller, 249–54; Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 139.

(84) . Barner, “Goethe,” 80; Safranski, Schiller, 442; Damm, Schiller, 256–60 (quote 258).

(85) . Barner, “Goethe,” 77, 81–83; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 2, 226–28, 255; Safranski, Schiller, 404, 464.

(86) . Bamberg, Jagemann, vol. 1, 240; Berger, Anna Amalia, 189.

(87) . Günther, Weimar, 59.

(88) . Kühn, Weimar, 102–4; Messner, Nationaltheater: Anfängen, 26–31; Safranski, Schiller, 505–6, 453, 462–63, 471–73.

(89) . Genast, Zeit, 64–68, quote 83–84; Bamberg, Jagemann, vol. 1, 90, vol. 2, 285–86.

(90) . See Berger, Anna Amalia, 210–11.

(91) . Böttiger, Zustände, 48–59, 79; Steiner/Kühn-Stillmark, Bertuch, 54–56; Berger, “Rückzug,” 141, 150, 164;Berger, Anna Amalia, 155–56, 178–79.

(92) . Kühn, Weimar, 106–7; Safranski, Schiller, 495. Mann's portrait was for 1816, but certainly applicable fifteen years earlier. Lotte in Weimar, 330–82.

(93) . Vehse, Hof, 86; Kühn, Weimar, 108; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 2, 264; Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 144.

(94) . Kühn, Weimar, 46.

(95) . Herold, Mistress, 320–23.

(96) . Eberhardt, Umwelt, 9–10; Rost/Backhaus, “Weimar,” 30. For 1786, Riederer indicates 6,265, for 1800 approximately 8,000 (“Grösse,” 99).

(97) . Quoted in Kühn, Weimar, 21; Vehse, Hof, 57.

(98) . Vehse, Hof, 57; Kühn, Weimar, 21; Klauss, Alltag, 15, 45; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 233–34.

(99) . Roemer, City, 72; Huschke, “Betrachtungen,” 542.

(100) . Bruford, Germany, 211; Huschke, “Betrachtungen,” 542–43; W. Wölfling (1796) in Pleticha, Weimar, 12; Watson, Genius, 521.

(101) . Kriesche, Stadt; Steinfeld, Weimar, 18–19.

(102) . Hunstock, Weimar, 40–44, 54.

(103) . Benz, Heidelberg; Otremba, Würzburg.

(104) . Roemer, City, 72.

(105) . Bruford, Germany, 31; Eberhardt, Umwelt, 36, 41, 45.

(106) . Eberhardt, Umwelt, 67–70; Sengle, Goethe, 24–26.

(107) . Willy Flach in Fiala et al., Amtstätigkeit, 20–25; Riederer/Wahl Ibid., 60–61; Eberhardt, Umwelt, 56–65; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 2, 299–300.

(108) . Bruford, Germany, 97; Klauss, Alltag, 16; Ragwitz/Riederer, Zwiebelmarkt, 61.

(109) . Klauss, Alltag, 15; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 234, 236; Hunstock, Weimar, 164–67.

(110) . Sengle, Goethe, 27; Ventzke, “Hofökonomie,” 39–40; Hunstock, Weimar, 79, 338–41. By 1795, approximately 350 soldiers were stationed in Weimar (Riederer, “Grösse,” 93).

(111) . Klauss, Alltag, 18; Batts, “Side,” 29; Steiner/Kühn-Stillmark, Bertuch, 58, 69, 70 (quotes), 72, 93, 94, 99.

(112) . For the pre-1848–49 Revolution existence of this class in the whole of Germany, see Conze, “Voraussetzungen.”

(113) . Eberhardt, Umwelt, 85; Sengle, Goethe, 25.

(114) . Eberhardt, Umwelt, 35, 39–40, 53, 66.

(115) . See Müller-Seidel, Geschichtlichkeit, 37–38; Sengle, Goethe, 27; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 109.

(116) . See n. 54, above.

(117) . Schleif, Diener.

(118) . Eberhardt, Umwelt, 23, 30, 104; Hufeland, Leibarzt, 76–79; Francke, Geschichte, 87–88, 137–39; Schwabe, Selbstbiographie, 21.

(119) . Conze, “Mittelstand.”

(120) . Kühn, Weimar, 24; Huschke, Musik, 24; Messner, Nationaltheater: Anfängen, 28.

(121) . Vehse, Hof, 72, 132; Zaremba, Herder, 230; Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 173; Damm, Schiller, 218.

(122) . Scholz, Leben, 10–29.

(123) . Goethe, Faust, 134–222.

(124) . Conze, “Voraussetzungen,” 124.

(125) . Scholz, Leben, 21–29; Frede, “Todesstrafe,” 386–87; Wilson, Goethe-Tabu, 7–8; Vaget, “Wilson,” 338–39.

(126) . Koopmann, Stein, 224; Eissler, Goethe, vol. 1, xxvi, 52, vol. 2, 1019–22.

(127) . Vaget, “Introduction,” xviii.

(128) . Eissler, Goethe, vol. 2, 1071–72, 1287–90.

(129) . Ibid., vol. 2, 1070; Koopmann, Stein, 191, 255; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 260–61.

(130) . Watson, Genius, 95–101; Marchand, “Becoming Greek.”

(131) . Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in Winkelmann, 222.

(132) . E.g. (apart from Madame de Staël) historian Nikolai Karamzin, writer Wilhelm von Humboldt, and philosopher Joseph Rückert (Haufe, Humboldt, 63–64; Greiner-Mai, Weimar, 62; Pleticha, Weimar, 16).

(133) . See Hufeland, Leibarzt, 67; Mandelkow, Rezeptionsgeschichte, vol. 1, 135; Wilson, GoetheTabu, 292; Otto, “Goethe,” 16; Bollenbeck, “Weimar,” 214; Berger, Anna Amalia, 239–41.

(134) . Francke, Geschichte, 74, 112.

(135) . Böttiger, Zustände, 76; Berger, Anna Amalia, 240; Wieland to Gleim, May 15, 1785, in Richter, Herder, 238–39.

(136) . Müller-Seidel, Geschichtlichkeit, 36 (quote); Goeken, Herder, 90; Gillies, “Herder,” 90.

(137) . Boyle, Goethe, vol. 1, 248; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 111.

(138) . Kühn, Weimar, 104; Sengle, Goethe, 18; Borchmeyer, Klassik, 51–52; Boyle, Goethe, vol. 2, 264; Safranski, Schiller, 300.

(139) . Bruford, Germany, 324; Baeumer, “Begriff,” 40; Grimm/Hermand, Klassik-Legende, 11–13; Barner, “Goethe,” 83.

(140) . Kühn, Weimar, 20–21, 38; Bode, Musenhof, 218; Otto, “Goethe,” 16.

(141) . Vehse, Hof, 86–87.

(142) . Merseburger, Mythos, 161–66.

(143) . Walter, “Herder,” 59.

(144) . Zaremba, Herder, 163, 183, 199–200, 213–14, 217, 251; Goeken, Herder, 98; Richter, Herder, 269–70, 274, 289–90.

(145) . Richter, Herder, 219–21, 224.

(146) . Gillies, “Herder,” 94; Zaremba, Herder, 204–5; Richter, Herder, 269.

(147) . Gillies, “Herder,” 95–96; Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 145–46; Zaremba, Herder, 196, 204, 213–14, 217–18; Richter, Herder, 269–70.

(148) . Schmidt-Möbus/Möbus, Kulturgeschichte, 141–42.

(149) . Jagemann in Bamberg, Jagemann, vol. 1, 97.

(150) . Böttiger, Zustände, 221; Gillies, “Herder,” 94; Damm, Christiane, 120.

(151) . Bamberg, Jagemann, vol. 1, 97; Damm, Christiane, 134, 191, 195–96, 260–61, 275; Damm, Schiller, 221–22; Safranski, Goethe, 167–68.

(152) . Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 192; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 296; Wilson, Goethe-Tabu, 39.

(153) . Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 200–1.

(154) . Seibt, Goethe, 9–11, 21–25; Pleticha, Weimar, 240–55; Schopenhauer in Houben, Damals, 10–11 and in Pleticha, 247–49; Merseburger, Mythos, 126–28; Zaremba, Wieland, 258.

(155) . Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 296; Berger, Anna Amalia, 235; Merseburger, Mythos, 124–25.

(156) . Merseburger, Mythos, 125–26.

(157) . Seibt, Goethe, 31–35; Houben, Damals, 27; Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 211–12; Unseld, Goethe, 389–90.

(158) . Seibt, Goethe, 115–37, 150, 157 (1st quote); Haufe, Humboldt, 203 (2nd quote); Zaremba, Wieland, 264.

(159) . Merseburger, Mythos, 132–33.

(160) . Ibid., 140–47; Gebhardt, Handbuch, 85–92.

(161) . Merseburger, Mythos, 147–48; Sengle, Goethe, 236; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 110; Günzel, Fürstenhaus, 94; Wilson, Goethe-Tabu, 291.

(162) . Merseburger, Mythos, 148–51 (Goethe quoted 150); Bahr, “Juden,” 106–8; Schmidt, Familien, 8–14, 19–22, 45–47; Müller/Stein, Familien, 9–13. Unfriendly remarks about Jews are in Goethe, Faust, 152, 233.

(163) . Eberhardt, Umwelt, 18, 24; Riederer, “Grösse,” 100–3.

(164) . Table in Eberhardt, Umwelt, n.p.

(165) . Ibid., 27–29, 50–52.

(166) . Günzel, Fürstenhaus, 124; Post/Werner, Herrscher, 307; Jena, Quartett, 181–83.

(167) . Vaget, Goethe: Der Mann, 117–20.

(168) . Huschke, Musik, 39–78; Houben, Damals, 275.

(169) . Messner, Nationaltheater: Anfängen, 32–43.

(170) . To Böttiger, December 10, 1821, in Houben, Damals, 246.

(171) . Schopenhauer Ibid., 275–76, 301–2.

(172) . Kühn, Weimar, 137 (quote); Günzel, Fürstenhaus, 122.

(173) . Vehse, Hof, 86.

(174) . Berger, Anna Amalia, 235.

(175) . Safranski, Goethe, 304; Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 298.

(176) . Jena, Quartett, 181; Günzel, Fürstenhaus, 124.

(177) .Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 263; Conrady, Goethe, vol. 2, 513–31.

(178) . Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 297 (Goethe quoted Ibid.); Seemann, Weimar, 182–84.

(179) . Borchmeyer, Zeitbürger, 302–3; Oellers/Steeger, Weimar, 192–93.

(180) . Willy Flach in Fiala, Amtstätigkeit, 24, 26.

(181) . Werner Heisenberg, “Die Goethesche und die Newtonsche Farbenlehre im Lichte der modernen Physik” (1941), in Mandelkow, Urteil, 233. Also see Hubert Spiegel in FAZ. NETonline, July 20, 2010.

(182) . Gräbner, Weimar, 94; Schopenhauer in Houben, Damals, 36–41; Huschke, Musik, 41. On the beginnings of Weimar tourism during the time of Goethe, and thereafter, see Jens Riederer, “Wallfahrt nach Weimar: Die Klassikerstadt als sakraler Mythos (1780 bis 1919)” (ms., July 2013).

(183) . Schopenhauer in Houben, Damals, 56–57, 67–68, 114, 328–29; Humboldt in Haufe, Humboldt, 207–11; Vehse, Hof, 171; Unseld, Goethe, 508.

(184) . Haufe, Humboldt, 203, 217–18, 224; Safranski, Goethe, 305–6.

(185) . Steinfeld, Weimar, 263.

(186) . Humboldt in Haufe, Humboldt, 212–13; Damm, Christiane, 435–36, 458.

(187) . Damm, Christiane, 502–7.