Burschenschaft, an association of students at the German universities. It was formed as a result of the German national sentiment awakened by the War of Liberation, its object being to foster patriotism and Christian conduct, as opposed to the particularism and low moral standard of the old Landsmannschaften. It originated at Jena, under the patronage of the grand-duke of Saxe-Weimar, and rapidly spread, the Allgemeine deutsche Burschenschaft being established in 1818. The loud political idealism of the Burschen excited the fears of the reactionary powers, which culminated after the murder of Kotzebue (q.v.) by Karl Sand in 1819, a crime inspired by a secret society among the Burschen known as the Blacks (Schwarzen). The repressive policy embodied in the Carlsbad Decrees (q.v.) was therefore directed mainly against the Burschenschaft, which none the less survived to take part in the revolutions of 1830. After the émeute at Frankfort in 1833, the association was again suppressed, but it lived on until, in 1848, all laws against it were abrogated. The Burschenschaften are now purely social and non-political societies.
The Reformburschenschaften, formed since 1883 on the principle of excluding duelling, are united in the Allgemeiner deutscher Burschenbund.