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Melchior Goldast

Melchior Goldast

Swiss historian
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Swiss historian
A.K.A. Goldast, Melchior Goldast von Haiminsfeld
Countries Switzerland
Occupations Historian Jurist
Gender male
Birth 6 January 1578 (Bischofszell)
Death 11 August 1635 (Gießen)
Education Ehemaliges Melanchthon-Gymnasium in Altdorf bei Nürnberg
The details

Melchior Goldast ab Haiminsfeld (Goldastus)(6 January 1576 or 1578 - Gießen, 1635) was a Swiss jurist, and an industrious though uncritical collector of documents relating to the medieval history and constitution of Germany. He was a Calvinist writer of note.


He was born of poor Protestant parents near Bischofszell, in the Swiss canton of Thurgau. His university career, first at Ingolstadt (1595‑1596), then at Altdorf near Nuremberg (1597‑1598), was cut short by his poverty, from which he suffered all his life, and which was the main cause of his wanderings. In 1598 he found a rich protector in the person of Bartholomaeus Schobinger, of St Gall, by whose liberality he was enabled to study at St Gall (where he first became interested in medieval documents, which abound in the Abbey of St. Gall) and elsewhere in Switzerland. The year before his patron's death in 1604, he became secretary to Henri, duc de Bouillon, with whom he went to Heidelberg and Frankfurt. But in 1604 he entered the service of the Baron von Hohensax, the possessor of the Codex Manesse, the precious manuscript volume of old German Minnesänger of which Goldast published excerpts. Soon he was back in Switzerland, and by 1606 in Frankfurt, earning his living by preparing and correcting books for the press. In 1611 he was appointed councillor at the court of Saxe-Weimar, and in 1615 he entered the service of Graf Ernst von Schaumburg at Buckeburg. In 1624 he was forced by developments in the Thirty Years War to retire to Bremen; there in 1625 he deposited his library in that of the town, he himself returning to Frankfurt. In 1627 he became councillor to the Emperor Ferdinand II and to the archbishop-elector of Trier, and in 1633 passed to the service of the landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. He died at Gießen early in 1635.

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