Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl

Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl, 1883 by Riehl ( born May 6, 1823 in Biebrich, † November 16, 1897 in Munich) was a German journalist, novelist and cultural historian. In his works, he emphasized early social structures and thus gained influence on the development of folklore in the 19th century, when its scientific founder, he is.


Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl was born as the son of the Duke of Nassau Castle manager Friedrich August Riehl and his wife Elizabeth Riehl in Biebrich. First he attended the Latin School in Wiesbaden, then high school in Weilburg, where he took off in 1841 -leaving examination.

From 1841 to 1843 he studied theology in Marburg, Tübingen and Giessen. Motives for this study were the suicide of his father and the poor financial situation. After passing the exam, he turned to philosophy, history and art history, which he founded studied in Bonn. There, Ernst Moritz Arndt was one of his academic teachers. Under the influence Arndt Riehl, who actually wanted to be a parish priest of passing the exam theological candidates to address as a freelance writer with the cultural history and social policy decided.

Since 1841 he had been a writer and a journalist. Topics such as economics, politics and church forestry and agriculture should follow. Riehl wrote newspaper articles in Frankfurt, Karlsruhe and Wiesbaden and gave in 1848 to 1851, the conservative Nassauische general newspaper out, while he was also entrusted with the musical direction of the Court Theatre in Wiesbaden. From 1851 to 1854 he worked in Augsburg as an editor of the local newspaper generally.

1854 brought him Maximilian II at the court of Munich, where he was " top editor for Preßangelegenheiten of the Royal Household and of Foreign " and an honorary professor at the State economics department received in 1859 converted to a full professorship for cultural history and statistics. His lectures were among the best-attended in university. In 1861 he became a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. 1883 Riehl was raised to the peerage. In 1885 he was appointed director of the Bavarian National Museum and the General Conservator of Monuments and Antiquities of Bavaria.

Riehl had two children. His daughter Helene made ​​himself known as a landscape painter. His son Berthold was a lecturer in art history at the University of Munich. Riehl died at the age of 74 years in Munich.

Personal views

Riehl's scientific interests of the " civilization " of the German people. Methodically, he was groundbreaking ( the researcher should be field hike ). He was one of the first to scientifically dealt with social and cultural history and, inter alia, was attempting a " folklore as a science " or a "science of people" to establish.

His most famous work is the " natural history of the German people as the basis of a German Social Policy" ( 4 volumes, 1851-1869 ), social relations and German culture and way of life are highlighted in the geographical factors. In the first volume of " Land and People " (1854 ) continued Riehl national character of European nations in a direct relationship with the environment surrounding them: Characteristic landscapes of the English and French were the tamed Park and the deforested field whose counterpart he of in the wilderness German forest saw. In the third volume, "The Family " (1855 ), he analyzed the family as the basis for all social developments and as the nucleus of society. He saw the urbanization in an era of industrialization not only critical, but even claimed they destroy families. Furthermore, should the urban space " forest, pasture and water " does not displace, with which he attacked the state change of the landscape through the development of an unnatural civilization society. Riehl saw in urban areas and the " breeding ground for the socialistic spirit of egalitarianism " as a result of the separation of desperate individuals who had in turn due to the destruction of families. Here the subjective generalizations of his theories and his conservatism will become apparent.

Riehl not objected to any developments from the cities. He stated that " Sloth" from the social conservatism of the peasant population and "movement" of the progressive attitude of the townspeople were both fundamental to the society.


Riehl applies by virtue of its object of study as a thought leader or founder, among others of folklore, cultural history, and sociology. Many subjective generalization despite his theories for the development of cultural and social history of Germany have been significant. As before, by value are his descriptions of many, even in remote environments (eg, traveling theater, rogues ). However, his method, the rejection of analytical methods and " book learning " ( 19th century! ) Made in favor erwanderter experience and literary expression, less school ( but are, for example, in the current German cultural sociology Girtler and Honer call ).

Riehl is also considered one of the pioneers of nature conservation in the sense of wilderness and not (only) cultural landscape protection. So he calls 1857 the " law of the wilderness " next to the " law of the land ": " For centuries it was a matter of progress, the right to represent the field on one side; Now however, it is also a matter of progress, the right of the wilderness to represent not only the right of the arable land. And when the national economy still so very reluctant and rebelled against this fact, the national research-based Social - politician must still persevere and fight for the right of the wilderness. " The gelingende development of a " national organism " does not only require the training of cultural uniqueness (see Herder), but also the preservation of wilderness on the one hand as a reservoir original, unalienated force that protects against the negative effects of industrialization, urbanization, etc., on the other as a place of absence of social constraints and thus personal freedom, to which the man of his inherent individuality, natural morality and individual self- responsibility can be aware of.


Riehl was awarded the Order of Maximilian (1871 ) was to the Privy Council ( 1889) and was nominated winner of the Bavarian Order of Merit ( 1897). Riehl was named in honor of the year 1958, founded by the Chamber of Crafts Dusseldorf as a foundation unit of the second -chance education, the Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl College, according to him.


  • The story of Eisele and Beisele. Novel, 1848
  • Natural history of the people as the basis of a German social policy, 1851-1869 [ including many revisions ] 1 Land and People
  • 2nd Civil Society
  • 3 The Family
  • 4 Wanderbuch