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[burk-hahrt; Ger. boork-hahrt]
Burckhardt, Jacob or Jakob Christoph, 1818-97, Swiss historian, one of the founders of the cultural interpretation of history. He studied under Ranke at the Univ. of Berlin and taught (1844-53, 1858-93) art history and history at the Univ. of Basel. His best-known work is Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien (1860, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, available in many English editions). It remains the classic on the subject, although its primarily political and cultural interpretation of the Renaissance is controversial among historians. Believing in a pattern of culture peculiar to each age, Burckhardt found the shift from corporate medieval society to the modern spirit occurring in Italy in the 14th and 15th cent. The strife between empire and papacy had created a political and moral vacuum, leading to the birth of the modern self-conscious state and the liberation of the creative individual. Burckhardt saw Renaissance humanism as the revival of classical antiquity, and the era as one of man's joyous new discovery of himself and the world about him. He profoundly influenced his friend Nietzsche, and the work of J. A. Symonds is based largely on Burckhardt's synthesis. In The Age of Constantine the Great (1852, tr. 1949), Burckhardt analyzed the transition from classical times to the Middle Ages. Among his other works on history and art is Cicerone (1855), a guide to Italian art. Selections from his posthumously published lecture notes on ancient Greece have appeared in translation as The Greeks and Greek Civilization (1998). Burckhardt feared that spiritual and aesthetic human values were doomed to submersion by the rise of industrial democracy.
Burckhardt, Johann Ludwig or John Lewis, 1784-1817, European explorer, b. Switzerland, educated in Germany. Supported by an English association for promoting African discovery, he visited Egypt and Syria (1809-13), rediscovered Petra (1812), then, posing as a learned Muslim, he became the first Christian to reach Medina. He died while preparing to set out from Upper Egypt for his original goal, the Niger River. Included in his Travels in Arabia (1829) is a notable account of Mecca. His journals, published by the African Association, include Travels in Nubia (1819), Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (1822), Notes on the Bedouin and Wahábys (1830), and Arabic Proverbs (1830).

See biography by K. Sim (1969).

This is about the Basle patricians. See Burckhardt (disambiguation) for disambiguation.
Burckhardt is the name of a family of the Basel patriciate, established by Christoph (Stoffel) Burckhardt (1490–1578), a merchant in cloth and silk originally from Münstertal, Black Forest, who received Basel citizenship in 1523, and became member of the city council in 1553. From 1553, the family was present in the city council without interruption until the 20th century.

The surname is derived from the dithematic Germanic given name Burkhard, from burg "protection" and hard "brave, hardy".

Christoph Streckeisen married Ottilie Mechler in 1518 and in 1539 Gertrud Brand, daughter of Basel mayor Theodor Brand. There are six lines of the Burckhardt familiy, from the six sons born of Christoph's second marriage:

  1. Bernhard: line extinct in the 17th century
  2. Hieronymus:
  3. Theodor:
  4. Johann Rudolf
  5. Samuel: line extinct in the 19th century
  6. Daniel

Of the six sons, five became merchants in cloth and silk, while Hieronymus entered the Teutonic Order In the 17th and 18th century, the Burckhardts intermarried with the other leading families of the Basel patriciate (Iselin, Merian, Sarasin, Staehelin, Vischer, Wettstein). Bernhard was elected to the great chamber of the city council in 1603, where the family remained present until 1878. The family reaches the peak of its political influence in the 18th century, but continues to be influential in the 19th century with several Burckhardt mayors and professors at the University of Basel.


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