Salomon Schweigger

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Salomon Schweigger
Schweigger's illustration of Constantinople c. 1578
Ein newe Reiss Beschreibung auss Teutschland nach Constantinopel und Jerusalem (1608) title page

Salomon Schweigger (also spelled Solomon Schweiger) (30 March 1551 – 21 June 1622) was a German Lutheran theologian, minister, anthropologist and orientalist of the 16th century. He provided a valuable insight during his travels in the Balkans, Constantinople and the Middle East, and published a famous travel book of his exploits. He also published the first German language translation of the Qur'an.


Schweigger was born in Sulz am Neckar. His father was Henry Schweigger, notarius (court and town clerk) and praefectus pupillorum (superior of the orphanage children in Sulz). Salomon first attended the convent school in Bad Herrenalb-Alpirsbach, and from 1573, studied theology and classical philology at the University of Tübingen.

In 1576, having completed his studies and being in search of employment, he was hired as embassy chaplain by Joachim von Sintzendorff, Habsburg ambassador to Istanbul (1578–81).[1] He traveled as a Habsburgian envoy to Constantinople[2] with an Austrian delegation from Vienna on a diplomatic mission of Emperor Rudolf II to Sultan Murad III.[3] He spent several years attached the Habsburg embassy,[4] in the role of Hofprediger (court preacher)[5] successor to Stefan Gerlach.[6] In this travel diary, he vividly describes his personal experiences and also provides an interesting insight into life in the former Ottoman Empire. He deduced that "Serbians, Bulgarians, Rascians, have their origins in the ancient German tribes of Daci",[7] and also wrote about Bulgarian jewelry, curious at the nose rings he saw worn by the women and the "exoticism" he witnessed.[8] He also commented on jugglers, fires, the "clumsy" music of the Turks, their food, customs, and buildings.

He left Constantinople in 1581 and traveled to Egypt and Jerusalem,[9] where he quoted Adam Reusner.[10][11] Visiting Ramla, he commented on the Jewish populations in the city.[12] In Egypt, he traveled with Gerlach and David Chytraeus. He also visited Damascus before returning to Germany via Crete and Venice.[13] On returning to Germany, Schweigger served as pastor in the town of Grötzingen from 1581–1589. In 1589, Heinrich Hermann Baron Schutzbar von Milchling, appointed Schweigger to be patron of the parish of Wilhermsdorf in Middle Franconia. The City of Nuremberg called him in 1605 to serve at the Frauenkirche where he worked for 17 years.

His account of his years spent in the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East would later gain fame in his "Ein newe Reiss Beschreibung auss Teutschland nach Constantinopel und Jerusalem", published in 1608. Several of his sketches appeared centuries later in Kiril Petkov's 1997 book Infidels, Turks, and Women: The South Slavs in the German Mind, ca. 1400-1600.[8] In 1616, he published "The Turkish Alcoran, religion and superstition". Solomon is also the author of the first German version of the Qur'an.[14] In the Ottoman Empire, Schweigger found an Italian translation of the Qur'an, which was known among Christians living there to a certain extent. Schweigger translated from the Italian, but published it only after his return to Nuremberg (1616, 2nd edition 1623, further editions without naming 1659; 1664). He translated from a first Italian version of 1547 by Andrea Arrivabene, itself based on translation from Latin by Robert of Ketton in the 12th century.[15] It is surprising that Schweigger did not resort to the Latin text. Schweigger's German translation of the Italian translation of the Latin translation of the Arabic Koran was in turn translated into Dutch in 1641 and printed in Hamburg.

Personal life[edit]

He was first married to Susanna Michael (d. 1585 in Grötzingen) from Memmingen, who in 1583 gave birth to his first son, Immanuel, who became the father of the Nuremberg sculptor, Georg Schweigger. Salomon married on 13 September 1585 Elisabetha Vischer. On 16 September 1588, their son Solomon was born, whose descendants lived in Nuremberg. He died, aged 71, in Nürnberg, and was buried at St. Rochus Cemetery.


  • Heyd, Wilhelm von, Schweigger, Salomon. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 33, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1891, S. 339 f.
  • Schweigger, S., & Stein, H. (1986). Zum Hofe des türkischen Sultans. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus.
  • Schweigger, Valentin (1879). Genealogie der Familie Schweigger. Handschrift Nürnberg.


  1. ^ Faroqhi, Suraiya (9 December 1999). Approaching Ottoman History: An Introduction to the Sources. Cambridge University Press. pp. 113–. ISBN 978-0-521-66648-0. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Ben-Zaken, Avner (3 June 2010). Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560–1660. JHU Press. pp. 24–. ISBN 978-0-8018-9476-3. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Todorova, Marii︠a︡ Nikolaeva (15 April 2009). Imagining the Balkans. Oxford University Press. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-0-19-538786-5. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Boyar, Ebru; Fleet, Kate (15 April 2010). A Social History of Ottoman Istanbul. Cambridge University Press. pp. 132–. ISBN 978-0-521-13623-5. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Hodkinson, James R.; Morrison, Jeffrey (1 December 2009). Encounters With Islam in German Literature and Culture. Camden House. pp. 62–. ISBN 978-1-57113-419-6. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Michalski, Sergiusz (10 May 1993). The Reformation and the Visual Arts: The Protestant Image Question in Western and Eastern Europe. Psychology Press. pp. 113–. ISBN 978-0-415-06512-2. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Balkan Slavs in the Early Modern Period: Different Perspectives, Different Approaches". Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Wolff, Larry. "The International History Review Vol. 21, No. 2 (Jun., 1999),". Taylor & Francis, Ltd., accessed via JSTOR: 461–463. JSTOR 40109017. 
  9. ^ Al-Wer, Enam; Jong, Rudolf Erik de; Holes, Clive (31 May 2009). Arabic Dialectology: In Honour of Clive Holes on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday. BRILL. pp. 51–. ISBN 978-90-04-17212-8. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Velde, Charles William Meredith van de (1854). Narrative of a journey through Syria and Palestine in 1851 and 1852. W. Blackwood and sons. p. 512. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  11. ^ Vilnay, Zev (1963). The Holy Land in old prints and maps. R. Mass. p. 112. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  12. ^ David, Abraham; Ordan, Dena (24 May 2010). To Come to the Land: Immigration and Settlement in 16th-Century Eretz-Israel. University of Alabama Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-8173-5643-9. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  13. ^ Iorga, Nicolae (2000). Byzantium after Byzantium. Center for Romanian Studies. p. 68. ISBN 978-973-9432-09-2. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Islamic studies. Islamic Research Institute. 1 January 2002. p. 88. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  15. ^ Abbas Jaffer & Masuma Jaffer (2009). Quranic Sciences. ICAS Press. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-904063-30-8. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Salomon Schweigger at Wikimedia Commons