Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer - Encyclopedia

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JAKOB PHILIPP FALLMERAYER (1790-1861), German traveller and historical investigator, best known for his opinions in regard to the ethnology of the modern Greeks, was born, the son of a poor peasant, at Tschotsch, near Brixen in Tirol, on the 10th of December 1790. In 1809 he absconded from the cathedral choir school at Brixen and made his way to Salzburg, where he supported himself by private teaching while he studied. theology, the Semitic languages, and history. After a year's study he sought to assure to himself the peace and quiet necessary for a student's life by entering the abbey of Kremsmiinster, but difficulties put in his way by the Bavarian officials prevented the accomplishment of this intention. At the university of Landshut, to which he removed in 1812, he first applied himself to jurisprudence, but soon devoted his attention exclusively to history and philology. His immediate necessities were provided for by a rich patron. During the Napoleonic wars he joined the Bavarian infantry as a subaltern in 1813, fought at Hanau (30th October 1813), and served throughout the campaign in France. He remained in the army of occupation on the banks of the Rhine until Waterloo, when he spent six months at Orleans as adjutant to General von Spreti. Two years of garrison life at Lindau on Lake Constance after the peace were spent in the study of modern Greek, Persian and Turkish.

Resigning his commission in 1818, he was successively engaged as teacher in the gymnasium at Augsburg and in the progymnasium and lyceum at Landshut. In 1827 he won the gold medal offered by the university of Copenhagen with his Geschichte des Kaisertums von Trapezunt, based on patient investigation of Greek and oriental MSS. at Venice and Vienna. The strictures on priestcraft contained in the preface to this book gave offence to the authorities, and his position was not improved by the liberal views expressed in his Geschichte der Halbinsel Morea wiihrend des Mittelalters (Stuttgart, 1830-1836, 2 pts.). The three years from 1831 to 1834 he spent in travel with the Russian count Ostermann Tolstoy, visiting Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Cyprus, Rhodes, Constantinople, Greece and Naples. On his return he was elected in 1835 a member of the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences, but he soon after left the country again on account of political troubles, and spent the greater part of the next four years in travel, spending the winter of1839-1840with Count Tolstoy at Geneva. Constantinople, Trebizond, Athos, Macedonia, Thessaly and Greece were visited by him during 1840-1841; and after some years' residence in Munich he returned in 1847 to the East, and travelled in Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor. The authorities continued to regard him with suspicion, and university students were forbidden to attend the lectures he delivered at Munich. He entered, however, into friendly relations with the crown prince Maximilian, but this intimacy was destroyed by the events following on 1848. At that period he was appointed professor of history in the Munich University, and made a member of the national congress at Frankfort-on-Main. He there joined the left or opposition party, and in the following year he accompanied the rump-parliament to Stuttgart, a course of action which led to his expulsion from his professorate. During the winter of1849-1850he was an exile in Switzerland, but the amnesty of April 1850 enabled him to return to Munich. He died on the 26th of April 1861.

His contributions to the medieval history of Greece are of great value, and though his theory that the Greeks of the present day are of Albanian and Slav descent, with hardly a drop of true Greek blood in their veins, has not been accepted in its entirety by other investigators, it has served to modify the opinions of even his greatest opponents. A criticism of his views will be found in Hopf's Geschichte Griechenlands (reprinted from Ersch and Gruber's Encykl.) and in Finlay's History of Greece in the Middle Ages. Another theory which he propounded and defended with great vigour was that the capture of Constantinople by Russia was inevitable, and would lead to the absorption by the Russian empire of the whole of the Balkan and Grecian peninsula; and that this extended empire would constitute a standing menace to the western Germanic nations. These views he expressed in a series of brilliant articles in German journals. His most important contribution to learning remains his history of the empire of Trebizond. Prior to his discovery of the chronicle of Michael Panaretos, covering the dominion of Alexus Comnenus and his successors from 1204 to 1426, the history of this medieval empire was practically unknown.

His works are - Geschichte des Kaiserthums Trapezunt (Munich, 1827-1848); Geschichte der Halbinsel Morea im Mittelalter (Stuttgart, 1830-1836); Uber die Entstehung der Neugriechen (Stuttgart, 1835) "Originalfragmente, Chroniken, u.s.w., zur Geschichte des K. Trapezunts" (Munich, 1843), in Abhandl. der hist. Classe der K. Bayerisch. Akad. v. Wiss.; Fragmente aus dem Orient (Stuttgart, 1845); Denkschrift fiber Golgotha and das heilige Grab (Munich, 1852), and Das Todte Meer (1853) - both of which had appeared in the Abhandlungen of the Academy; Das albanesische Element in Griechenland, iii. parts, in the Abhandl. for 1860-1866. After his death there appeared at Leipzig in 1861, under the editorship of G. M. Thomas, three volumes of Gesammelte Werke, containing Neue Fragmente aus dem Orient, Kritische Versuche, and Studien and Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben. A sketch of his life will also be found in L. Steub, Herbsttage in Tyrol (Munich, 1867).

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