Hegel: A Biography

Pinkard, Terry. Hegel: A Biography. Cambridge, 2000.


Hegel’s family was certainly well connected but was not included among what in Württemberg were known as the Ehrbarkeit, the “non-noble notables,” who staffed the Württemberg assembly of estates (its parliament) and who had a near-monopoly on the better, more prestigious positions in Württemberg. The Ehrbarkeit had achieved their status largely because of the sheer oddness and complexity of Württemberg’s history; the Württemberg nobility took no part in the governance of the duchy, instead understanding their nobel status as having to do entirely with a direct, “immediate” relation to the Holy Roman Emperor, and thereby de facto leaving everything to the Ehrbarkeit, which more or less consisted of some important clergy, certain urban elites, and important rural magistrates. The Ehrbarkeit continually contested with the duke for power. To add to the complexity of Württemberg’s (and Stuttgart’s) social milieu, the duke’s own privy council (Geheime Rat) had over the years gradually ceased to be simply an extension of the duke’s authority and had come instead to regard itself as a semi-independent body, which itself then contested with not only the duke but also with the estates (and thereby with various parts of the Ehrbarkeit) for power and influence. The privy council itself had come to be composed of what had more or less gradually evolved into a professional class of bureaucrats, almost always trained in law at the university in Tübingen (located in Württemberg just a few miles south of Stuttgart).

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