Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



In this paper I argue that the Young Hegelian Protestant theologian Bruno Bauer was ‘radicalized’ by the events of 1840s Prussia, and that the personal experiences he endured during this period explain his transition from the orthodox Hegelian Christianity that he espoused during his student days at the University of Berlin, to the vitriolic atheism and criticism of the Prussian state which he spouted from 1842 until the dissolution of his radical band of Young Hegelian friends known as Die Freien. The events that had such profound effects on Bruno Bauer’s thought include his frustration with the reactionary policies of Frederick William IV, the new Prussian king who reigned from 1840 to 1861; his removal from and marginal position outside of official Prussian academic life; the availability of radical journals, newspapers, and publishers; and Bauer’s patronage of radical political clubs and salons as outlets for the expression of that radicalism. Bauer’s career is historically significant for a number of reasons. First, it reveals the attitudes of intellectuals disaffected with the reactionary regime of Frederick William IV. It also demonstrates the political choices that early nineteenth-century German academics were forced to make — whether to support or to criticize the existing regime — and the consequences of those (in Bauer’s case, negative) choices on their careers and their lives. Bauer’s life and career is also significant in that it illuminates the relationship between theology and politics in early nineteenth-century Prussia.



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Committee Chair

Suzanne L. Marchand



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