Herder, Johann Gottfried von (1744-1803), a German author, was born at Mohrungen in East Prussia. In his youth a Russian surgeon offered to teach him surgery, and in 1762 he went to Konigsberg, but fainted at the first sight of dissection. He abandoned surgery in favour of theology, and also attended Kant's lectures. He distinguished himself in general knowledge, and in 1764 was made master in the cathedral school at Riga and preacher. He gave up this post and, declining the offer of a post at St. Petersburg, began to travel.
In France he acted as travelling-tutor to a German prince on tour. Disease of the eyes stopped him at Strasburg, and he there made the acquaintance of Goethe, and in 1775 Goethe's influence got him the post of court preacher at Weimar. Here he showed himself a good pulpit orator and an energetic inspector of schools. In 1801 he became President of the High Consistory, and was ennobled by the Elector of Bavaria. Before 30 he had published a work on modern German literature, and a book called Critical Words. His chief work was Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Humanity. He also published some poems, among them The Cid. His works were published in 40 volumes at Stuttgart (1852-54).