Ernst Ludwig was born in Berlin, the son of Ferdinand Dümmler (1777–1846), a Berlin bookseller. He studied at Bonn under Johann Wilhelm Löbell (1786–1863), under Leopold von Ranke and Wilhelm Wattenbach, and his doctor's dissertation, De Arnulfo Francorum rege (Berlin, 1852), was a notable essay.
He entered the faculty at Halle in 1855, and started an historical Seminar. In 1858 he became professor extraordinary, in 1866 full professor. In 1875 he became a member of the revised committee directing the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, himself undertaking the direction of the section "Antiquitates". In 1888 he became president of the central board in Berlin. This was an official recognition of Dümmler's leading position among German historians.
In addition to numerous critical works and editions of texts, he published:
- Piligrim von Passau und des Erzbistum Lorch (1854)
- Über die alteren Slawen in Dalmatien (1856)
- Das Formelbuch des Bischofs Salomo III von Konstanz (1857)
- Anseim der Peripatetiker (1872)
His great work was the Geschichte des ostfrankischen Reiches (Berlin, 1862–1865, Sn. 2 vols.; 2nd ed. 1887–1888, in 3 vols.). In conjunction with Wattenbach he completed the Monumenta Alcuiniana (Berlin, 1873), which had been begun by Philipp Jaffé, and with Rudolf Köpke he wrote Kaiser Otto der Grosse (Leipzig, 1876).
He edited the first and second volumes of the "Poetae latini aevi Carolini" for the Monumenta Germaniae historica (Berlin, 1881–1884).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Dümmler, Ernst Ludwig". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press