Yale University, 38 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06520
Princeton University, 110 West College, Princeton, NJ 08544
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700 University Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850
Lake View Cemetery Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York, USA
Theodor Ernst Mommsen (born July 11, 1905 in Berlin,† July 18, 1958 in Ithaca, New York) was a German historian.
The grandson of Theodor Mommsen and nephew of Max Weber and Alfred Weber studied in Heidelberg, Vienna and Berlin and received his doctorate in 1929 with the work Studies on the Content of Ideas of German Foreign Policy in the Age of Ottons and Salier. In his dissertation he dealt with the question of the influence of universal moments on the conceptions of domination of the high medieval empire. In 1930 he became an employee of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. In order to supplement the remaining volumes of material by Louis of Bavaria and Charles IV, he made extensive archive trips first to southern Germany and Alsace, and later to Florence, Bologna and Modena. In 1936 he emigrated to the United States. From 1938 to 1942 he was an assistant at Yale University and in 1942 he moved to the Groton School, where he also lectured american soldiers and German prisoners of war. He was appointed to Princeton University in 1946. In 1954 he became a full professor at Cornell University. He was in friendly contact with Ernst Kantorowicz.  He took his life in 1958. The motives for this cannot be clarified. In 1955, he left a portrait of his grandfather hanging in his study to the Free University of Berlin.  Mommsen worked intensively on Francesco Petrarca, to whom he devoted numerous studies, including an edition of the Testamentum with English translation. His findings from the numerous archival studies in Italy were presented in the collection Italian Analekten on the history of the Empire of the 14th century (1310-1378).
Prof. F. G. Marcham read the following at his funeral: We meet to honor the memory of Theodor Ernst Mommsen, historian, who lived among us and gave his friendship to us during the last years of his life. He was a warm, witty, gentle, courteous man and if not vigorous in body yet active in spirit, turning almost daily to those who made up the wide circle of his friends and renewing by word and action his ties with them. As a scholar he had wide learning in the history and literature of Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. As a man of taste he loved music and gathered together a modest collection of paintings. His learning, counsel and companionship he shared, with the university community, with his colleagues and with his students. Above all he was a scholar-teacher who gave to students his knowledge and the arts of criticism which turn knowledge into learning. His books were theirs to use; his home he opened to them. They will remember the generosity of his mind: like every great teacher, he lives in his students' We who were his colleagues valued first and foremost his friendship; we admired his learning and, next to his learning, his wide acquaintance with historians both here and in Europe. The honor of his reputation enlarged the reputation of our department and of our university. Theodor Mommsen bore the name of his German grandfather, the eminent 19th century historian, a name famous among the learned of the world. He grew up in the great tradition of German scholarship and culture and at all times paid homage to that tradition. To him it was a tradition which valued the things of the mind and spirit and set at highest value the right of the individual to personal and spiritual freedom. He himself left his home in Germany and came to live in the United States to affirm his faith in this tradition. In doing so he carried out, as he believed, one part of his duty to his grandfather's name and memory. Of this he was Justly proud and we among whom he came to live are hodored that he associated our country and our community with the cause of freedom. The other part of his family duty, the task of following the path of the great historian, was a call to achieve nothing but the highest in scholarship. It was a source of stimulus and of restraint, setting before him the goal and blocking his way to it by the scholarly standards he had pledged himself to observe. Only the most robust health and complete assurance could sustain a scholar in such a task and of these our friend had neither. He was by nature a simple man, at home among his books, his music and his paintings. As ill health overCame him he set less and less worth upon his own work; illness added to his humility and self-criticism, even though to his colleagues his last piece of scholarship was among his best. This work, a notable translation and edition of Petrareh's "Testament," is a fitting end to the life of Theodor Mommsen, teacher and scholar. Here the spirit of the scholar prevails. The teacher must be vigorous and sure, as he was face to face with his students: The scholar may well stand in awe before the tasks that face him. In this mood our friend looked at life. How close to his own thoughts, how apt to this occasion, were the words of Petrarch's "Testament" which Theodor Mommsen rendered from the Latin into English as follows: "This earthly and mortal body, a heavy burden for noble souls. I wish to be returned to the earth from which it drew Its origin, and this to be done without any pomp but with utmost , humility and all possible lowliness." In this spirit we have performed our act of friendship.
Theodor Ernst Mommsen left a sum to the Cornell University, the income to be used for a traveling fellowship for a graduate student in history. The personal property in his estate was more than $5.000. Principal bequests were $5.000 to a sister, Helene Mommsen and $1.000 to a. friend in Princeton, NJ. The residue was given Cornell for the a fellowship. to be awarded from time to time to a graduate student majoring in medieval and Renaissance studies where study and research in Europe would assist in a doctoral dissertation. The minimum stipend to be awarded would be $2,000, the will stated. Cornell University was the executor of the will.
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