Burschenschaft (from Bursche, a youth, a student), an association of German students, originally designed to regulate their social habits and to foster a spirit of nationality. The first organization was formed in 1815 by that portion of the students of Jena who had taken part in the German war of independence. Tubingen, Heidelberg:, Halle, and Giessen followed the example in 1815-'17. The war not having been followed by those political reforms which they had anticipated, the students of Jena resolved to convoke a general Burschenschaft, the object of which should be to connect the scattered associations into one national brotherhood, by the annual election of a presiding committee. On Oct. 18, 1817, representatives of almost all the German universities met at the Wartburg festival, and in October, 1818, the members of 14 universities again assembled, and adopted a constitution, to which all the universities gave their assent in April, 1819, with the exception of Gottingen, Lands-hut, and those of Austria. Among the members of the Jena Burschenschaft was the student Sand, who had taken a prominent part in the convocation of the students at the Wart-burg. When the dramatist Kotzebue was assassinated by Sand, on account of his hostility to the national tendencies of Germany, the German princes became alarmed, and a conference took place at Carlsbad, which on Sept. 20,1819, decreed the suppression of the associations.
The students, however, baffled the designs of the governments. The only change which the interdiction wrought was to make the Burschenschaften meet in secret instead of in public, and the secrecy, far from hindering their object, only tended to forward it. In 1827 the original project of a German national Burschenschaft was taken up again, but internal dissensions defeated the success of the plan. Two parties formed themselves, the Germanen, who were practical politicians and determined reformers, and the Arminen, composed of more ideal patriots, who saw less good in violent political changes than in the general development of national power by perfecting their own individual culture. In 1827, at Bamberg, and in September, 1831, at Frankfort, the conflicting parties came together, and the Arminen, although in a numerical majority, succumbed to the more energetic Germanen. At a general meeting in Tubingen, Dec. 25, 1832, a revolution was openly resolved upon, and the students were all invited to stand by the national German Burschenschaft, which had taken up its headquarters at Frankfort-on-the-Main. This declaration was followed by the revolutionary attempt at Frankfort in June, 1833, in which 1,867 students were implicated, and which led to the arrest of students all over Germany. During the revolution of 1848 the students who became most prominent in popular movements were those of Vienna, who had never before joined the Burschenschaft.