Professor of law, b. Sept. 24, 1823, at Wismar (Mecklenburg); d. April 9, 1900
MAASSEN, FRIEDRICH BERNARD CHRISTIAN, professor of law, b. September 24, 1823, at Wismar (Mecklenburg); d. April 9, 1900, at Wilten near Innsbruck (Tyrol). After completing the humanities in his native city, he studied jurisprudence at Jena, Berlin, Kiel, and Rostock, became, in 1849, an advocate in the last named place, and took his degree at the university there in 1851. He was active in the constitutional conflict of 1848 between the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the Diet, defended the rights of the representatives in three pamphlets, and, with Franz von Florencourt, founded the anti-revolutionary "Nord deutscher Korrespondent". Shortly after his graduation he became a convert to the Catholic Faith, and, realizing that, as a Catholic, he was not eligible for public office in his native place, betook himself to Bonn, where he devoted himself to academic teaching. The work by means of which he proved his great teaching ability, "Der Primat des Bischofs von Rom and die alten Patriarchalkirchen" (Bonn, 1853), dealt with the two important questions: whether the Roman primacy existed in the first centuries, and whether the much-discussed sixth canon of the Council of Nicaea bears witness to the primacy. This work won immediate recognition among scholars, and Count Thun invited him to Pesth in 1855 as professor extraordinarius of Roman law. A few months later he was given a professorship of Roman and canon law at Innsbruck, one at Graz in 1860, and one in 1871 at Vienna, where, until he was pensioned in 1894, he attracted many pupils.
In 1873 he became a member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences, in 1885 a life member of the Upper House, and from 1882 till 1897 was a member of the Supreme Court of the Empire. During the Vatican Council he adhered to Döllinger, but was in no real sense an Old Catholic, and in 1882 explicitly retracted all his utterances in favor of that sect. Incited by Savigny's important work on the history of Roman law in the Middle Ages, Maassen began a history of canon law on the same lines. But of this work, which was to have numbered five volumes, he published only the first, "Geschichte der Quellen and der Literatur des kanonischen Rechts im Abendlande bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters" (Graz, 1870). Several of his articles in the Reports (Sitzungsberichte) of the Vienna Academy were practically complements of this work. His "Neun Kapitel über freie Kirche and Gewissenfreiheit" (Graz, 1876) is written in a vehement style. It is a sweeping condemnation of the Prussian Kulturkampf. An amplification of the first chapter appeared under the title: "Veber die Grande des Kampfes zwischen dem heidnischen Staate and dem Christentum" (Vienna, 1882). In many respects his "Pseudoisidorstudien" (Vienna, 1885) is a continuation of his masterpiece. He also edited in masterly style one volume of the great "Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Leges", III (Hanover, 1893), being the "Concilia aevi Merovingensis". Noteworthy, also, is his "Zwei Synoden unter Childeric II" (Graz, 1867). Maassen often displayed in politics an aggressive activity. He was an adherent of the so-called Federalismus, and strove energetically for the formation of a Catholic Conservative party in Styria, where he belonged for a time to the Dict.