Anton Tomaž Linhart (11 December 1756 – 14 July 1795) was a Slovene playwright and historian, best known as the author of the first comedy in Slovene, Županova Micka (Micka the Mayor's Daughter). He is also considered the father of Slovene historiography, since he was the first historian to write a history of all Slovenes as a unit, rejecting the previous concept which focused on single historical provinces.
Linhart was born in the Upper Carniolan town of Radovljica, at the time part of the Habsburg Monarchy. His father was a Czech hosiery manufacturer who had moved to Carniola from Bohemia. Linhart attended primary school in his home town and then went to Ljubljana. He studied trading and finance in Vienna. Before finishing his studies, he also spent a short time in the Stična monastery in Lower Carniola. After returning to Ljubljana, he was hired as an archivist by the bishop of Ljubljana. He later also worked as a chief book revisor, school commissioner, ending up as secretary in the Habsburg administration of the district of Carniola.
In 1786, he was appointed school commissioner for the district of Ljubljana. Within three years of his appointment he increased the number of primary schools in the rural areas of the district from 9 to 18. He was also very keen on establishing a central public study library in Ljubljana and it was on his initiatives that the Lyceum Library in Ljubljana, the predecessor of the present National and University Library of Slovenia.
From the early 1780s on, Linhart began frequenting a circle of Slovene enlighteners who met in the Zois Palace in Ljubljana. There, he met several intellectuals, including Sigmund Zois, Valentin Vodnik, Jernej Kopitar, Jurij Japelj and others, in whose company he developed an interest in Slovene language, culture and history. He wrote two plays in the Slovene language and the began a project to write the first comprehensive history of the Slovene Lands. He died in Ljubljana before he could complete his project. He is buried in the Navje cemetery in Ljubljana, along other important personalities in Slovene history.
His first literary work, written whilst still studying, was a book of poems titled Blumen aus Krain (Flowers from Carniola), written in German. His first tragedy Miss Jenny Love (also in German) was published in 1780. Under the influence of Slovene enlighteners, especially Marko Pohlin and Sigmund Zois, he began writing in Slovene language. He translated and adapted the comedy of the German dramatist Joseph Richter Die Feldmühle (The Country Mill). His title for it was Županova Micka (Micka the Mayor's Daughter). It is regarded the first comedy in the Slovenian. He also adapted Beaumarchais's comedy The Marriage of Figaro into a new play Ta veseli dan ali Matiček se ženi (This Merry Day or Matiček's Wedding).
As a historian he wrote a two-volumed work in German Versuch einer Geschichte von Krain und den übrigen Ländern der südlichen Slaven Oestérreiches ("An Essay on the History of Carniola and Other Lands of the Austrian South Slavs"). The first volume was published in 1788 and describes the proto-Slavic era. The second was published in 1791. It deals with the age of migrations, the Slavic settlement in the Eastern Alps and later political development of the Slovenian people, starting from Samo realm and Carantania. Linhart's historical work, strongly influenced by the ideas of the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, had an important influence for the development of the Slovenian national consciousness in the early 19th century.
Linhart was an adherent of the Enlightenment worldview. He was deist and was critical towards the privileges of the nobility and the Church. Initially, he had a favourable opinion of the reforms of the Emperor Joseph II, but he was critical of his centralist policies as well as of his neglection of the various regional languages in the Habsburg Empire.
- Taras Kermauner, Začetki slovenske dramatike (Ljubljana: Slovenski gledališki muzej, 1999)
- Helena Koder, "Linhart, slovenski razsvetljenec" in Gorenjski glas, y.59, n.96 (December 1, 2006), 12-13.
- Janko Kos, Duhovna zgodovina Slovencev (Ljubljana: Slovenska matica, 1996)
- Blaž Lukan, "Otrok in soustvarjalec evropske misli: 250. obletnica rojstva A. T. Linharta" in Delo, y.48., n.31 (February 7, 2006), 14.
- Postal stamp on the 100th year of Linhart's death
- Special coin issued by the National Bank of Slovenia on the 250th anniversary of Linhart's birth
- Anton Tomaž Linhart (1756-1795) at Find A Grave
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