Wilhelm Georg Friedrich Roscher

Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Roscher ( born October 21, 1817 in Hannover, † June 4, 1894 in Leipzig ) was a German historian and economist. He is considered the founder of the older historical school of economics.


Roscher came from a Hanoverian official's family, whose members served for generations in the military and civil sector. His father, who had last been top councilor in Hanover Department of Justice, died already in 1827. He attended the Lyceum in Hannover, which was then Grotefend run by renowned Keilschriftentzifferer Georg Friedrich, but left in 1835 before the completion of the course to in Göttingen antiquity and historical science to study, where he was a member of the Corps Hannovera. At Roscher Göttingen professors were among the historians Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann, Georg Gottfried Karl Otfried Müller and Gervinus.

On September 10, 1838, he was with a historical science dissertation under the title " De historicae doctrinae apud sophistas maiores vestigiis " doctorate (in German: On the trail of the historic doctrine of the older sophists ). He continued his studies in Berlin continued in August Boeckh and historians Leopold von Ranke. There he worked in the historical seminar Ranke, whom he repeatedly thanked later for experienced promotion. 1840 Roscher habilitated for history and political science at the University of Göttingen. Early as 1843, where he became an associate in 1844 and promoted to full professor.

A lecture to a genuinely historical subject he was, however, only in the first semester of the " historical art by Thucydides ." The results of a detailed study of the ancient Greek historian, he noted in the 1842 published work " life, work and age of Thucydides ." Then he turned to political science, and held since 1845 courses in economics, history of political theories, policy, statistics and finance. His lectures and other works can change his research focus realize where he expanded his sphere of interest and over again in the course of his 54 - year teaching career. Goal of his scientific activity was the creation of a political science on historical method, which should show the laws of development of economics and the state. His historical approach referred first to the national economy, but then also the doctrine of constitutional forms of the state. This " historical method " was in contrast to the " philosophical method " of his predecessors. Using his method he deduced certain laws that stood in contrast to the classical political economy.

1848 followed Roscher a chair at the University of Leipzig, which he, in spite of foreign calls to Munich, Vienna and Berlin, never left. Lectures came to the held in Göttingen lectures there for economic policy, which he later called " practical economics and economic police " called, and since 1871 a lecture on agricultural policy and statistics added. He also had the statistics given special attention and held 1851-1869 numerous lecture courses on comparative statistics, comparative political science of the six major powers, comparable statistics and political science from Germany, Great Britain and France and the European peoples. Soon he also held lectures under the titles: "Introduction to the study of the whole law, state and Cameralwissenschaft ", " history of political ( and social ) theories ", " history of natural law, politics and economics ", " basic teachings of the practical politics, "" natural science of the state " and in place of the latter since 1870, the lecture" Natural doctrine of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy as preschool every practical politics. "

1889, shortly after completion of his age 71, he was released on his own request, from his teaching duties. He held from then on only public lectures on politics, which he added another new about "poor policy and poor relief " with an introduction to socialism and communism. In the spring of 1894 he set his academic activity.

His son was the classic philologist Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher.


Roscher applies to Bruno Hildebrand and Karl Knies as the founder of the older German Historical School of Economics. He developed a monistic teleological economic stage theory (natural labor - capital). This was criticized by Karl Marx, for counting this theory to what he called the theories of vulgar economy. The classical economics Roscher sat opposite a concept that sees the only sensible theoretical approach in the historical approach and makes every effort to highlighting the individual as an economic factor - herein Roscher's concept is just criticized by Max Weber, but has also been developed.

Roscher undertook a first attempt to periodise the absolutist era and assign a separate historical position of the enlightened era. As an era term " absolutism " has therefore been significantly influenced by him since 1847. He developed the idea of ​​a historical sequence of stages, with a " confessional absolutism " (16th century, Philip II ) begins in a " courtly absolutism " ( the age of Louis XIV ) passes and finally the " enlightened absolutism " ( Friedrich II ) opens. These terms have determined the Periodisierungsansätze in historical research long; while now largely distance has been taken from the era term absolutism, there are some historians who do not want to replace the concept of enlightened absolutism as before.

His thinking had strong roots in the Christian faith, as evidenced inter alia, the posthumously published "spiritual thoughts ". Roscher, philo -Semitic and idealistic romanticized, underlined the outstanding and indispensable role of Judaism in the medieval trade, which in its view was to the economic masters of European peoples.

As a doctor father he influenced Karl Lamprecht.


  • Royal Saxon Privy Councillor and Honorary Citizen of the City of Leipzig
  • Honorary Doctorate: Dr. iur. h c. (Königsberg, Bologna, Edinburgh); Dr. rer. pol. h c. (Tübingen );
  • Honorary member of the Universities of Kazan and Kiev;
  • Full member of the Saxon Academy of Sciences ( 1849)
  • Foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences ( 1867)
  • Foreign member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences ( 1888)
  • Corr. Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences ( 1871),
  • Of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences,
  • The Milan Academy of Sciences
  • The Swedish Academy of Sciences and
  • The Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei


  • De historicae doctrinae apud sophistas majores vestigiis. Göttingen: Dieterich, 1838 (Dissertation, digitized by Google Books ) German: . Via the traces of the historical teachings of the older Sophists (1838 ). Edited, translated from Latin, accompanied by remarks and an appendix of Leonhard Bauer, Hermann Rauchenschwandtner and Cornelius Zehetner. Marburg: Metropolis 2002, ISBN 3-89518-376-8.
  • Life, work and age of Thucydides. Göttingen:. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht 1842 ( digitized by Google Books )
  • Plan to lectures on political economy. According to historical method. Göttingen:. Dieterich 1843 ( digitized by Google Books )
  • System of economy. 5 volumes, Stuttgart: Cotta 1854ff. ( Digitized by Google Books for Volume 1 and Volume 2)
  • Views of economy from the historical point of view. Leipzig, Heidelberg: CF Winter 1861 ( digitized by Google Books ). In this: On the Doctrine of the market crises. Pp. 279-398. ( first published 1849)