Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

The name of a German firm of publishers and booksellers.

Bartholomäus Herder

Founder of the present publishing firm, b. at the Swabian free- town of Rottweil on the Neckar, 22 August, 1774; d. at Freiburg im Breisgau, 11 March, 1839. Originally destined for Holy orders, he was elaborating, while yet a student at the abbey school of St. Blasien and at the University of Dillingen, his plan of "gaining his livelihood by the dissemination of good books" as a "scholarly publisher". In 1801, during the turbulent period prior to the dissolution of the old German Empire, he began his career, at the instance of the Prince-Bishop (soon afterwards Prince Primate ) Karl Theodore von Dalberg, in the capacity of "publisher to the princely episcopal court of Constance ", at Meersburg on the Lake of Constance, the episcopal residence and seat of a seminary. Among his first publications, which were mainly of a theological and pedagogic character, we find Wessenberg's "Archiv für pastorale Conferenzen in den Landkapiteln des Bisthums Constanz" (1802-27). In 1810 Bartholomäus transferred his business to Freiburg im Breisgau, where, in close connexion with the university, he gave a more comprehensive character to his publications and developed his miscellaneous stock in new directions. One of his most important publications was Karl von Rotteck's "Allgemeine Geschichte vom Anfang der historischen Kenntniss bis auf unsere Zeiten" (9 vols., 1812-27; the 15th edition being issued by another firm), which for more than a generation was "the gospel of the educated liberal middle classes". Being entrusted with the publication of the official war bulletin, the "Teutsche Blätter", by the royal and imperial authorities at head- quarters as early as the end of 1813, Herder went to Paris with the allied armies in 1815 in Metternich's train as "Director of the Royal and Imperial Field Press". Subsequent to the conclusion of peace he founded an art institution for lithography, copperplate engraving, and modelling in terra cotta, in connexion with his publishing business. In the course of time upwards of three hundred pupils were turned out from this institution, while the sumptuous illustrations and maps that were issued mark an epoch in the history of this branch of technic–especially the "Heilige Schriften des Alten und Neuen Testamentes in 200 biblischen Kupfern" (the Holy Writ of the Old and the New Testament in 200 biblical engravings), of which he reproduced numerous impressions by an original lithographic process, and Woerl's "Atlas von Central-Europa in 60 Blättern" (Atlas of Central Europe in 60 plates, 1830), which was the earliest employment of two-colour lithography. As late as 1870 this atlas rendered important service to the German army by reason of the map of France it contained. Although such great achievements won a European reputation for the house, the commercial profits derived therefrom were entirely disproportionate to the expenditure. Consequently the condition of the house at Bartholomäus Herder's death in 1839 was by no means a satisfactory one. His two sons succeeded to the heritage.

Karl Raphael Herder

(Born 2 November, 1816; died 10 June, 1865), the older son of Bartholomäus, took up the commercial side of the business, while the younger B ENJAMIN H ERDER (b. 31 July, 1818; d. 10 November, 1888), took charge of the publishing department until his brother's retirement in 1856, when he undertook the sole management. Equipped with a thorough, scholarly education, trained in the book business by his father and under Gauthier de Laguionie in Paris, Benjamin had had his views further broadened early in life by travels through Germany, Austria, France, England, and Italy. Of a character earnest and religious, he was strongly impressed by the Cologne troubles of 1837, and, as in the case of so many of his contemporaries, they gave a direction to his life, and this youth of twenty-one set to work with the definite aim of taking his part in the liberation and revival of the Catholic Church in Germany. First of all he gradually abandoned fine-art publications in favour of book-publishing, being thus enabled to devote the full measure of his energies to the service of religious learning. Herein he displayed such activity in the encouragement of particular branches of erudition that the history of his theological publications, for instance, would comprise a considerable fragment of the history of modern theological literature, and the catechetical branch thereof would constitute one of the most important divisions of the history of catechetics. After theology Herder applied himself with the greatest zest to pedagogies, to the lives and learning of the saints as well as to other edifying biographies; also after a long and cautious delay to the publication of sermons. He next took up works dealing with the religious and political problems of the day, with questions of ecclesiastical policy and social controversies and issues. Finally, passing beyond the limits which previously Catholic literature had seldom ventured to transcend, he began the publication of works on the general sciences –history and philosophy, the natural sciences, geography, and ethnology, including the publication of atlases, school textbooks, music, art and its literature, the history of literature, and belles-lettres. His governing purpose throughout was to avoid wasting his energies on particular publications, but to build up the various branches gradually and systematically by the publication of more comprehensive "collections" and "libraries" and by the issue of scientific periodicals.

The "Kirchenlexikon" (Church Lexicon) was the great centre of his fifty years' activity as a publisher. It was the first comprehensive attempt to treat everything that had any connexion with theology encyclopedically in one work, and also the first attempt to unite all the Catholic savants of Germany, who had hitherto pursued each his own path, in the production of one great work. Herder had nursed this project since 1840. The difficulties encountered even in the preliminary work were almost inconceivable. Then, when its appearance was made possible and its issue was begun in 1847 under the direction of Welte, the exegete of Tübingen, and Wetzer, the Orientalist of Freiburg, followed the even graver difficulties of ensuring its continuation, difficulties which were heightened at the beginning by the terrors of the Revolution of 1848, and towards the end by the oppression of the Church in Baden. But finally, after sixteen years of struggling and striving on the part of Herder, all obstacles were overcome, and the work was brought to completion in 1856, thanks chiefly to the never-failing, self-sacrificing support of Hefele. It had a decisive influence on the subsequent intellectual activity of Catholicism, and the importance which the Protestant scientific world attributed to it was eloquently demonstrated in the fact that, while it was still in process of issue, the Protestant scholars made use of Herder's scheme, even down to the smallest details, for the "Real-Encyklopädie für protestantische Theologie". It was sixteen years more before the preliminary work could be begun on the new edition which soon became necessary, and ten years more before its publication could be started. While the historical element had been especially emphasized in the first edition, the dogmatic and exegetical side was expanded to equal dimensions in the second edition, in view of the far-reaching change which had taken place in the domain of theology. The subjects to be treated were chosen by Adalbert Weiss, professor at the Freising lyceum, and the editorial chair was held by Hergenröther until his elevation to the cardinalate, and afterwards by Kaulen, the exegete of Bonn.

The stupendous plan, which Benjamin had cherished since 1841, of building up a "Theologische Bibliothek" (Theological Library ) according to an equally logical and symmetrical scheme, he was unable to realize until thirty years later. When the "Kirchenlexikon" was nearing completion, Herder sought, by the publication of the "Konversations-Lexikon" (Universal Encyclopedia, 1st ed., 1853-7), to make the Catholic public independent of the hostile literature which ruled unchallenged in the highly important domain of works of general information. Although, out of regard for the limited purchasing capacity of the Catholic public in Germany, he confined himself to the modest limits of five medium-sized volumes, still the undertaking was for his day a very courageous one. Of the very great number of other works published by him, we can draw attention only to the most notable, which spread the reputation of the house far beyond the limits of Germany. Among the earliest were the works of Alban Stolz, a man endowed by nature with all the gifts of the popular theologian and teacher of the people, whose "Kalender für Zeit und Ewigkeit", assailing in powerful and eloquent language the fundamental evils of the world and the age, achieved an extraordinary success in strengthening and deepening the faith of the people. Alongside of Stolz we find Ignaz Schuster, whose catechisms and Biblical histories, issued in constantly improved editions and based upon the tradition of the Church and the text of Holy Writ , were scattered over the world, like Stolz's works, in hundreds of thousands of copies, the larger editions of the Biblical histories being translated into no less than twenty-five languages. Even before the completion of the "Kirchenlexikon" Hefele began his monumental "Conciliengeschichte". The strong religious revival that set in with the sixties was heralded by Hettinger's pioneer work, the "Apologie des Christentums", which set forth the religious teachings of Christianity to the cultured world in well-timed fashion, and which, reprinted again and again, and constantly improved, continues to exercise a potent influence in five foreign civilized languages even to this day. The "Apologien" of Weiss and Schanz were subsequently issued to support and supplement Hettinger's "Apologie". Of these works the one contrasts Christian life and its historical and cultural development with a purely worldly knowledge and the outlook of the age, while the other strives to harmonize the doctrines of the Church and the results of scientific research.

The Encyclicals of December, 1864, and the question of infallibility called forth in the pages of the "Stimmen aus Maria Laach" the comprehensive defence of the authority of the pope, as pastor and teacher, while the controversies concerning the Vatican Council occasioned Hergenröther's masterly "Anti-Janus", afterwards expanded and strengthened in the almost inexhaustible hisorico-theological essays, the "Katholische Kirche und christlicher Staat in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung und in Beziehung auf Fragen der Gegenwart". The "Stimmen", which at first appeared irregularly, inaugurated those relations between the house of Herder and the German Jesuits which have proved of so great importance to Catholic learning and Catholic life, and have kept the Jesuits in such close touch with their native country even while they were in exile during the persecution of the Kulturkampf . Of the abundant fruits of these relations we may mention the great "Collectio Lacensis" of the more recent councils, which displays a Benedictine industry in the collection of materials, and the "Philosophia Lacensis", nor can we forget the vigorous "Stimmen", which rapidly developed into the organ of the current intellectual movement, and its thoroughly stimulating and very instructive "Ergänzungshefte" (Supplementary Numbers), which already number more than one hundred. After the promulgation of the fundamental decrees of the Vatican Council, the "Theologische Bibliothek" was opened under brilliant auspices with Scheeben's profound "Handbuch der Dogmatik". While the Kulturkampf was threatening to silence every expression of Catholic life, Janssen's epoch-making "Geschichte des deutschen Volkes" began its triumphant course, and carried, for the first time, Cathlic research into wide Protestant circles. The last ten years of Herder's existence crowned his life-work. Quite apart from the individual volumes of the various Collections and of the Apologies already mentioned, he produced, among other works, the "Real-Encyklopädie der christlichen Alterthümer" by F. X. Kraus, the new edition of the "Kirchenlexikon", Knecht's "Praktischer Kommentar zur biblischen Geschichte", the "Bibliothek für Länder- und Völker-kunde", the "Jahrbuch der Naturwissenschaften", Pastor's "Geschichte der Päpste", the "Staatslexikon der Görres-Gesellschaft", the "Archiv für Literature und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters" by Denifle and Ehrle, and the "Bibliothek für katholische Pädagogik".

Thus Benjamin Herder's activity as a publisher was always a faithful mirror of the Catholic revival in Germany in the nineteenth century, and furthermore a powerful lever exerted in favour of the Catholic cause. This was so much the more creditable, since Herder was not merely the agent, but also in general the originator of his enterprises. Possessing a clear and profound knowledge of the needs of Catholic literature, it was usually he who selected the themes for literary treatment. When he once recognized a project to be right, he clung to it tenaciously until conditions proved favourable, although decades elapsed before his scheme could be realized. Almost always on the watch for competent collaborators, he discovered the majority by his own exertions, personal acquaintance usually developing into lifelong friendship. In no undertaking did he allow material gain to be the deciding factor; even in times of crisis–and of such he encountered more than one, beginning with the Baden uprising of 1848, right through the wars which raged between 1859 and 1871, down to the dreary years of the Kulturkampf which crippled the resources of both clergy and people–the end in view alone determined his decision. Thoroughly alive to his grave responsibility as a publisher, he devoted extraordinary care to the training of capable and conscientious assitants. His partner, Franz Joseph Hutter (b. at Ravensburg, 25 November, 1840) issued from the ranks of these "pupils". His essentially practical nature happily complemented Benjamin's idealism, which even repeated warnings had not been able to shake. New branches were established to open a wider market than the older establishments at Freiburg and Strasburg afforded. In 1873 were founded the St. Louis (U. S. A.) branch, under the management of Joseph Gummersbach, and the Munich branch under Herder's brother-in-law, Adolf Streber, and in 1886 that at Vienna, while enterprises of even greater promise were contemplated. In 1863 Herder married Emilie Streber, the accomplished daughter of Franz Streber, professor at the Munich University, and celebrated as a numismatist. His alliance with the Streber family introduced Herder to that very circle of men who played the most important part in the Catholic revival in Germany. It was also contemporaneous with a more active movement in the Church, in which Herder took a notable part. Though handicapped throughout by great physical sufferings, he bore all to the end without complaining, striving unceasingly onwards and upwards.

Under the new management, conducted by H ERMANN H ERDER , a series of collections, chiefly theological and historical, have been issued, and also a steadily increasing number of publications in foreign languages, principally Spanish and English, while in recent years various annuals have been published. We may here mention the monumental undertakings, the "Geschichte der Weltliteratur" of Baumgartner, the definitive collection of sources for the Tridentine Council, the third, completely revised, edition of the "Konversations-Lexikon", which now ranks with the great Leipzig encyclopedias, and Wilpert's superb work on the catacombs. In 1906 a branch of the firm was established at Berlin.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Philippians 1:1-11
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! I give thanks to Yahweh with all my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 14:1-6
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 31st, 2014 Image

St. Wolfgang
October 31: Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter