From 1813 to 1818 he studied at Göttingen, chiefly under A.H.L. Heeren. His graduation thesis, published in 1819, on the history of the Merovingian mayors of the palace, attracted the attention of the Prussian reformer Baron Stein, by whom he was engaged in 1820 to edit the Carolingian chroniclers for the newly-founded Historical Society of Germany. In search of materials for this purpose, Pertz made a prolonged tour through Germany and Italy, and on his return in 1823 he received at the instance of Stein the principal charge of the publication of the series Monumenta Germaniae Historica, texts of all the more important historical writers on German affairs down to the year 1500, as well as of laws, imperial and regal archives, and other valuable documents, such as letters, falling within this period. Pertz made frequent journeys of exploration to the leading libraries and public record offices of Europe.
In 1821 he had been made secretary of the archives, and in 1827 principal keeper of the royal library at Hanover; from 1832 to 1837 he edited the Hannoverische Zeitung, and more than once sat as representative in the Hanoverian second chamber. In 1845 he was called as chief librarian to Berlin, where he shortl) afterwards was made a privy councillor and a member of the Academy of Sciences. He resigned all his appointments in 1874, and on the 7th of October 1876 died at Munich while attending the sittings of the historical commission.
The Monumenta began to appear in 1826, and at the date of his resignation 24 volumes folio in the series Scriptores, Leges, and Diplomata had appeared. This work for the first time made possible the existence of the modern school of scientific historians of medieval Germany. In connexion with the Monumenta Pertz also began the publication of a selection of sources in octavo form, the Scriptores rerum germanicarum in usum scholarum; among his other literary labours may be mentioned an edition of the Gesammelte Werke of Leibniz, and a life of Stein (Leben des Ministers Freiherrn vom Stein (6 vols, 1849-1855).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.