Friedrich Schiller

Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller was born on 10 November 1759 in his parents' home in Marbach. He spent his childhood in Marbach, Lorch and Ludwigsburg. However, to provide their gifted son with a good education, his parents had no choice but to send Frederich to Duke Karl Eugen's military academy. Friedrich missed his family because only very limited contact with them was allowed. The young Schiller was also not permitted to choose his studies freely. So he began his studies with law and later turned to medicine. He had to read the famous works of the ancient poets, the famous philosophers and playwrights in secret, as any preoccupation with fine arts is prohibited at the military academy. Schiller made friends with his classmates, and with some teachers as well. Already in his early years it was apparent that Friedrich's health was extremely unstable. He often became ill at the military school in Stuttgart. At the end of his studies, contrary to expectations, including those of his parents, he didn't secure financially sound employment, but had to cope with the limitations and modest salary of a regimental doctor. These bleak prospects, more and more prohibitions that limited his freedom and the urge to finally follow his real vocation as a playwright, culminated in him fleeing. This escape from the army was followed by stays in Mannheim, Leipzig, Gohlis and finally in Weimar. He released his plays for the theatre and found publishers to print his works. Nevertheless, he could hardly make a living from the revenue. He was often plagued by money troubles and the struggle for recognition in his life. For both he found benefactors and patrons who attempted to support him as best they could. Again and again it was women who saved him from emergencies, provided him with a room, offered him help. When Schiller was able to start a professorship in Jena in 1789, albeit with no salary, his worst financial troubles seemed to come to an end and he could think about starting a family. Friends with the two Lengefeld sisters, he finally married Charlotte von Lengefeld on 22 February 1790. Friedrich and Charlotte had four children. Schiller travelled back to his old home in Württemberg in 1793 for almost a year, but then returned to Jena, where he stayed until 1799. Finally, he settled permanently in Weimar. Thanks to the local court, the city was a spiritual and cultural centre in which renowned contemporaries such as Goethe, Wieland and Herder were living and working. After initial teething problems, Schiller and Goethe became close friends in 1794. The two very different characters discovered that they were ideal complements for each other in some ways. Even if Schiller's hopes of maintaining a secure position at the Weimar court remained unfulfilled, he still managed to secure his family and its future financially. In 1802 Schiller was raised to the peerage on his merits. Again and again, he was forced to retire to the sickbed due to his failing constitution. An acute bout of pneumonia finally led to his early death on 9 May 1805. During the autopsy, the doctors noted multiple organ failures that made it seem like a miracle that Schiller was able to live as long as he did. Until the very end, the dramatist busied himself by working on his plays. He left the play Demetrius unfinished.