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Peter Lambeck

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Generally called LAMBEC[C]IUS, historian and librarian, b. at Hamburg, 13 April 1628; d. at Vienna, 4 April, 1680. After studying under private tutors and at the Johanneum, he entered in 1644 the gymnasium where he came under the influence of Friedrich Lindenborg, and especially of his mother's brother, Lucas Holste (Holstein, 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 Peter went in 1645 to Holland to continue his studies, and at the University of Amsterdam, came in contact with many scholars, especially the philologian Gerhard Johann Voss. He later left the Netherlands at his uncle's wish and went to Paris, where his relationship with the celebrated Holste, 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, he made a tour through France, Liguria, and Etruria, and spent two years in Rome, where under the special direction of his uncle, who in the interim had become papal librarian, he undertook classical and historical researches. When barely nineteen, his learned work (Lucubrationes criticae in Auli Gellii Noctes Atticas, Paris, 1647) had already brought him the approval of the learned public of Paris.

On his return to Hamburg, he was made in 1652 professor of history at the gymnasium, and in 1664 became rector. 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 unfortunate 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 ("Commentariorum de Bibliotheca Caesarea Vindobonensi libri VIII", Vienna, 1865-79; re-edited by Kollar, 1766-82). These catalogues are even today of value, 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" (Hamburg, 1659), of which a second enlarged edition was issued by J. A. Fabricius (Leipzig, 1710), with a biographical sketch of the author, published separately at Hamburg in 1724. The "Prodromus" was the first comprehensive history of literature, chronologically arranged. Lambeck also published among other works a history of his native town ("Origines Hamburgenses ab anno 808 ad annum 1292", 2 vols., 1652-61), and researches into the history of the Byzantine Empire ("Syntagma originum et antiquitatum Constantinopolitanarum" Paris, 1655).


HOFFMANN, P. Lambeck als Schriftsteller u. Bibliothekar (Soest, 1864); KARAJAN, Kaiser Leopold I. u. P. Lambeck (Vienna, 1868).

About this page

APA citation. Schlager, P. (1910). Peter Lambeck. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Schlager, Patricius. "Peter Lambeck." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph E. O'Connor.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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