In his play The Robbers (Die Räuber) Schiller, then a cadet at the prestigious ducal academy in Stuttgart, created Karl Moor, a young German nobleman who turned rebel to combat the injustices and tyranny of his brother, the Duke, and social ills. For this radicalism the French National Assembly awarded Schiller honorary citizenship in 1792, after Schiller himself had been made a nobleman and begun to distance himself from revolutionary politics. Because The Robbers could not be staged in Stuttgart, it opened in the somewhat more liberal city of Mannheim, only seventy miles away. Such differences in censorship were typical of Germany in those times.
Throughout the eighteenth century German censorship varied in extent and degree in each of the more than one hundred independent principalities, city states, and territories. Although The Robbers could be staged in Mannheim, Schiller had to make significant changes stipulated by the stage director and the Roman Catholic court. He removed offensive language and changed a treacherous “clergyman” into a “city councilor.” Moreover, the stage director shifted the contemporary setting of the play to the Middle Ages in order to obscure the play’s contemporary political allusions. Censorship of Schiller focused on “good taste” in language, conventional morality, church dogma, and overt political ramifications. Interestingly, censors distinguished sharply between...
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