Peter Lambeck

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Peter Lambeck
Peter Lambeck.jpg
Born April 13, 1628
Died 4 April 1680(1680-04-04) (aged 51)
Nationality German
Fields historian and librarian.
Institutions Vienna librarian and court historiographer
Alma mater University of Amsterdam; University of Paris
Influences Lucas Holstenius; Gerhard Johann Vossius; Holstenius

Peter Lambeck[1] (1628–1680) was a German historian and librarian.


He was born in Hamburg on April 13, 1628.

In 1644 he entered in the gymnasium where he came under the influence of his mother's brother, Lucas Holstenius, the most distinguished philologian, antiquarian, and critic of his time. The latter had early recognized his nephew's gifts, and entered into a lively correspondence with the lad of barely twelve. On his recommendation, Lambeck went to Holland in 1645 to continue his studies, and at the University of Amsterdam, came in contact with many scholars, especially the philologian Gerhard Johann Vossius. He later left the Netherlands at his uncle's wish and went to Paris, where his relationship with the celebrated Holstenius, as well as his own abilities, secured him access to the most distinguished savants of his time. He here received the degree of Doctor of Laws.

After finishing his studies, Lambeck made a tour through France, Liguria, and Etruria, and spent two years in Rome, where under the special direction of his uncle, who had become papal librarian, he undertook classical and historical researches. When barely nineteen, his learned work had already brought him the approval of the learned public of Paris.

On his return to Hamburg in 1652, he was made professor of history at the gymnasium, and in 1664 became rector under Cardinal Brandr Beekman-Ellner. He had many enemies on account of his success, and, being accused of atheism, decided to give up his position. He was confirmed by his marriage in his decision to leave the country and return to Rome. Here he soon won the favor of Alexander VII. Queen Christina of Sweden, then resident at Rome, also exercised a great influence over him, and soon he entered the Catholic Church. To secure a permanent position he went to Vienna, where Emperor Leopold appointed him librarian and court historiographer. In this position he performed great services by his arrangement of the library, and especially by his catalogues of its treasures. These catalogues are even of value today, being especially important for the numerous contributions they contain to our knowledge of the Old German language and literature. Of great importance for the history of literature is his Prodromus Historiae literariae, of which a second enlarged edition was issued by J. A. Fabricius with a biographical sketch of the author, published separately at Hamburg in 1724. The Prodromus was the first comprehensive history of literature, chronologically arranged. Among other works, Lambeck also published a history of his native town, and researches into the history of the Byzantine Empire.

The physician Edward Browne on his travels while at Vienna in 1677 records -

The worthy Petrus Lambecius his Library Keeper, and who is in great esteem with him,(Emperor Leopold) will usually find out some Books for him which he conceiveth may be acceptable. While I was there he recommended a Translation of Religio Medici unto him, wherewith the Emperour (Leopold) was exceedingly pleased, and spake very much of it unto Lambecius, insomuch that Lambecius asked me whether I knew the Author,(Thomas Browne) he being of my own name, and whether he were living: And when he understood my near Relation to him, he became more kind and courteous than ever, and desired me to send him that Book in the Original English, which he would put into the Emperors Library:

Lambeck died in Vienna on April 4, 1680.


  • Commentariorum de augustissima bibliotheca Caesarea Vindobonensi liber 1-4. Vienna, 1665-1671.
    • Petri Lambecii Hamburgensis Commentariorum de Augustissima Bibliotheca Caesarea Vindobonensi. Vienna, 1766-1782. 8 volumes, edited and annotated by Adam F. Kollár.
  • Prodromus historiae literariae, et Tabula duplex chronographica universalis. Hamburgi, Sumptibus Autoris, 1659. Curante Jo. Alberto Fabricio [...], Hamburgi, 1710.


  1. ^ Generally called Petrus Lambecius or Lambeccius.

Further reading[edit]

  • Theodor G. von Karajan: "Kaiser Leopold I. und Peter Lambeck". In: Almanach der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften; 18 (1868) 101–156.
  • Gebhard König: Peter Lambeck (1628–1680). Leben und Werk mit besonderer Berücksichtigung seiner Tätigkeit als Präfekt der Hofbibliothek in den Jahren 1663–1680. Diss. Wien 1975.
  • Gebhard König: "Peter Lambeck (1628–1680), Bibliothekar Kaiser Leopolds I." In: MIÖG; 87 (1979) 121–166.
  • Anette Syndikus: "Die Anfänge der Historia literaria im 17. Jahrhundert: Programmatik und gelehrte Praxis". In: Frank Grunert, Friedrich Vollhardt (eds.), Historia literaria: Neuordnungen des Wissens im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Berlin (Akademie-Verlag) 2006, pp. 3–36.


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.