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Maximilian Wolfgang Duncker

Maximilian Wolfgang Duncker (October 15, 1811 - July 21, 1886), German historian and politician, eldest son of the publisher Karl Duncker, was born at Berlin.

He studied at the universities of Bonn and Berlin till 1834, was then accused of participation in the students' societies, which the government was endeavouring to suppress, and was condemned to six years' imprisonment, afterwards reduced to six months. He had already begun his labours as a historian, but after serving his sentence in 1837, found himself debarred till 1839 from completing his course at Halle, where in 1842 he obtained a professorship.

Elected to the National Assembly at Frankfurt in 1848, he joined the Right Centre party, and was chosen reporter of the projected constitution. He sat in the Erfurt assembly in 1850, and in the second Prussian chamber from 1849 to 1852. During the crisis in Schleswig and Holstein in 1850 he endeavoured in person to aid the duchies in their struggles. An outspoken opponent of the policy of Manteuffel, he was refused promotion by the Prussian government, and in 1857 accepted the professorship of history at Tübingen. In 1859, however, he was recalled to Berlin as assistant in the ministry of state in the Auerswald cabinet, and in 1861 was appointed councillor to the crown prince. In 1867 he became director of the Prussian archives, with which it was his task to incorporate those of Hanover, Hesse and Nassau. He retired on January 1 1875, and died at Ansbach.

Duncker's eminent position among German historians rests mainly on his Geschichte des Alterthums (1st ed., 1852-1857); English translation by Evelyn Abbott, 1877-1882). He edited, with JG Droysen, Preussische Staatsschriften, Politische Correspondenz Friedrichs des Grossen, and Urkunden und Actenstucke zur Geschichte des Kurfürsten Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg.

To the period of his political activity belong Zur Geschichte der deutschen Reichsversammlung in Frankfurt (1849); Heinrich von Gagern (1850), in the series of Männer der Gegenwart; and the anonymous Vier Monate auswärtiger Politik (1851).

His other works include Origines Germanicae (1840); the lectures Die Krisis der Reformation (1845) and Feudalität und Aristokratie (1858); Aus der Zeit Friedrichs des Grossen und Friedrich Wilhelms III. Abhandlungen zur preussischen Geschichte (1876); followed after his death by Abhandlungen aus der griechischen Geschichte and Abhandlungen aus der neueren Geschichte (1887).

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.