Johann Jakob Moser

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Johann Jacob Moser, after a painting by Johann Georg Oechslin (1775).

Johann Jakob Moser (18 January 1701 – 30 September 1785) was a German jurist, publicist and researcher, whose work earned him the title "The Father of German Constitutional Law" and whose political commitment to the principles of Liberalism caused him to lose academic positions and spend years as a political prisoner.

Moser was born and died in Stuttgart. After attending Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium,[1] he studied at the University of Tübingen, and was brilliant enough to be already at the age of 19 appointed a professor of Law in the same university .

Soon afterwards he entered the civil service of the Holy Roman Empire, and was appointed as a "state adviser" in the Imperial Court. He held a long series of administrative appointments, giving him a thorough knowledge of political and constitutional issues.

In 1736 he was called to head the Faculty of Law at the University of Frankfurt (Oder), but had to leave after three years due to his thoroughly Liberal ideas which were disliked by King Frederick William I of Prussia.

He spent the years 1739 to 1747 at Ebersdorf, mainly concerned with completing the monumental 53 volumes of his Deutsches Staatsrecht ("German Constitutional Law"), a pioneering research analysing the named subject matter more systematically than ever done before, and based on a through study of the sources.

In 1751 he was appointed a political adviser at Stuttgart, and soon became involved in a struggle – lasting until 1759 – against the absolutist tendencies of Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg. With the exacerbation of this struggle, Moser was charged with authoring a subversive writing harmful to the ruler, and spent the following five years in prison.

In 1764 he was released, due in part to the intercession of Friedrich the Great of Prussia (son of the king who had hounded Moser in 1739). He was rehabilitated and restored to his position, rank and titles.

Among his important later works can be mentioned Neues deutsches Staatsrecht, ("New German Constitutional Law"), published in 24 volumes between 1766 and 1782. His overall ouvre includes about 500 works, on law as well as theology.

His son, Friedrich Karl von Moser, was also a jurist.

Bibliography (in German)[edit]

  • H. Shultze, "Johann Jakob Moser – Der Vater der deutschen Staatsrechts", 1869
  • J. Herzog, "Moser, Vater und Sohn", 1905
  • M. Fröhlich, "Johann Jakob Moser in seinem Verhältnis zum Rationalismus und Pietismus", 1925.


  1. ^ Wojak, Irmtrud (2009). Fritz Bauer 1903–1968: eine Biographie. Munich: C.H.Beck. p. 54. ISBN 978-3-406-58154-0.