Aschbach was born in Höchst (Frankfurt am Main). He initially studied theology and philosophy at the University of Heidelberg, but his focus soon turned to history, being influenced by Friedrich Christoph Schlosser. Since 1823 he was professor at the gymnasium of Frankfurt.
He became a professor of history at the University of Bonn in 1842, and later filled the same position at the University of Vienna (1853). Within two years he became a member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences. He was ennobled in 1870.
Aschbach died in Vienna.
- Geschichte der Westgoten (History of the Visigoths), 1827.
- Geschichte der Omajjaden in Spanien (History of the Umayyads in Spain), two volumes, 1829-1830.
- Geschichte Spaniens und Portugals zur Zeit der Herrschaft der Almorawiden und Almohaden (History of Spain and Portugal during the reign of Almoravides and Almohades), two volumes, 1833–1837.
- Geschichte der Heruler und Gepiden (History of Heruli and Gepidi), 1835.
- Geschichte Kaiser Sigismunds (History of Emperor Sigismund), four volumes, 1838–1845.
- Urkundliche Geschichte der Grafen von Wertheim (Documentary history of the counts of Wertheim), two volumes, 1843.
- Allgemeine Kirchenlexikon (General church dictionary) editor, four volumes, 1846–1850.
- Geschichte der Wiener Universität, (History of the University of Vienna), three volumes, 1865/1877/postum 1885.
- Roswitha und Konrad Celtes (Hrotsvitha and Konrad Celtes), second edition in 1868.
- Joseph Aschbach. Geschichte der Westgoten. Frankfurt, 1827 p. 230
- "Joseph, Ritter von Aschbach". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Joseph Ritter von Aschbach @ The Original Catholic Encyclopedia
- List of Aschbach's written works from the "German Wikipedia".
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