Timeline of Karl Marx

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Karl Marx in 1875 Karl Marx.jpg
Karl Marx in 1875

Karl Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. Marx's work in economics laid the basis for the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital, and has influenced much of subsequent economic thought. He published numerous books during his lifetime, the most notable being The Communist Manifesto . Marx studied at the University of Bonn and the University of Berlin, where he became interested in the philosophical ideas of the Young Hegelians. After his studies, he wrote for a radical newspaper in Cologne, and began to work out his theory of dialectical materialism. He moved to Paris in 1843, where he began writing for other radical newspapers and met Fredrick Engels, who would become his lifelong friend and collaborator. In 1845 he was exiled and moved to London together with his wife and children where he continued writing and formulating his theories about social and economic activity. He also campaigned for socialism and became a significant figure in the International Workingmen's Association.


Marx's theories about society, economics and politics – collectively known as Marxism – hold that human societies progress through class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class that controls production and a dispossessed labouring class that provides the labour for production. He called capitalism the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie," believing it to be run by the wealthy classes for their own benefit; and he predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, capitalism produced internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system: socialism. He argued that class antagonisms under capitalism between the bourgeoisie and proletariat would eventuate in the working class' conquest of political power in the form of a dictatorship of the proletariat and eventually establish a classless society, socialism or communism, a society governed by a free association of producers. Along with believing in the inevitability of socialism and communism, Marx actively fought for their implementation, arguing that social theorists and underprivileged people alike should carry out organised revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic change.

Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history. Revolutionary socialist governments espousing Marxist concepts took power in a variety of countries in the 20th century, leading to the formation of such socialist states as the Soviet Union in 1922 and the People's Republic of China in 1949. Many labour unions and workers' parties worldwide are influenced by Marxism, while various theoretical variants, such as Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, and Maoism, were developed from them. Marx is typically cited, with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science.


The list on the left recounts significant events in the life of Karl Marx, and his friends and family. The list on the right provides contextual information, recounting wider political and historical events that had an effect on Marx.

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  • The Congress of Vienna redraws the European map. Reaction and conservatism dominate all of Europe. The Concert of Europe attempts to preserve this settlement, but the forces of liberalism and nationalism make for dramatic changes.
  • 20 November, Marx's future collaborator and friend, Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) is born in Barmen, Prussia as the oldest of nine children of the cotton manufacturer Friedrich Engels and his wife Elisabeth, née van Haar [3]
  • October, after first being educated at home by his father, Marx is enrolled at the Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium in Trier at the age of twelve
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  • 27–30 May, the Hambach Festival, a mass political demonstration, is held in the Palatinate region demanding the unification of Germany
  • 24 September, Marx graduates Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium [4] with good grades in Latin and Greek, decent in French and Mathematics, and a low grade in History
  • 15 October, at the age of seventeen, Marx is enrolled by his father at the University of Bonn as a law student, despite his wishes to study philosophy and literature
  • 10 May, Marx's father, Heinrich, dies in Trier
  • Chartism, the first mass revolutionary workers’ movement, emerges in England
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  • 5 May, Marx begins writing for the Rheinische Zeitung (front-page pictured) in Cologne, where he becomes editor-in-chief on 15 October and publishes increasingly more radical articles
  • 12 April to 22 December, Engels anonymously contributes a total of seventeen articles to the Rheinische Zeitung
  • 3 March, Freiherr Ludwig von Westphalen, the father of Marx's fiancée Jenny, dies in Trier
  • 16 November, Marx first encounters Engels, who visits the office of the Rheinische Zeitung on his way to England [6]
  • In Manchester, Engels met Mary Burns (1823–1863), a young working woman with radical opinions. They begin a relationship that lasts until her death two decades later, although they never marry
  • 17 March, under censorship and heavy pressure from the Prussian government, Marx resigns as editor-in-chief of the Rheinische Zeitung
  • 31 March, the last issue of the Rheinische Zeitung is published before it is completely banned the following day
  • 19 June, Marx marries Jenny von Westphalen in Bad Kreuznach
  • October, seeing that further political activity in Germany is impossible, Marx moves to Paris
  • Late December, in Paris Marx meets the expatriate German poet Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), his third cousin once removed
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  • 3 February, under pressure of the Prussian government Marx is expelled from Paris and moves to Brussels
  • 24 February, publishes The Holy Family , written together with Engels the year before
  • Spring, writes the "Theses on Feuerbach", first published by Engels in 1888
  • 6 September, birth of Jenny and Karl Marx's second daughter Laura
  • Summer, finishes work on The German Ideology together with Engels, however they find no publisher and the work is not published until 1932

Publication of the first German edition of The Poverty of Philosophy , translated by Eduard Bernstein and Karl Kautsky

  • 24 February, publication of the Communist Manifesto in German
  • 4 March, arrested in Brussels and expelled to Paris
  • 1 June, editor-in-chief of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung , writes approximately 80 articles until 19 May 1849
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  • 16 January, the Marx's youngest child Eleanor (1855–1898) is born in London [9]
  • 6 April, the son Edgar dies in London at the age of 8 from gastric fever
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  • 30 November, Marx's mother, Henriette, dies in Trier
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  • During 1870 and the following year Engels writes about 60 articles on the Franco-Prussian War for the London daily newspaper the Pall Mall Gazette
  • September, Engels moves from Manchester to London
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  • 2 December, Marx's wife Jenny dies in London after a long illness
  • 11 January, At the age of 38, Marx's eldest daughter Jenny dies at Argenteuil near Paris, probably from cancer of the bladder, a condition which had afflicted her for some time
  • 14 March, Marx dies in his home in London
  • 17 March, Marx is buried at Highgate Cemetery
  • After the death of Marx, Engels dedicates himself to the editing and publication of their works
  • Engels publishes the second volume of Das Kapital
  • After nine years of work Engels publishes the third volume of Das Kapital
  • 5 August, at the age of 74, Engels dies in London of throat cancer
  • 31 March, at the age of 43, Eleanor Marx commits suicide after discovering that her partner, Edward Aveling, had secretly married a young actress in June the previous year [10]
  • 26 November, at the age of 66, Marx's second daughter Laura commits suicide together with her husband Paul Lafargue, 69, in Draveil outside of Paris


  1. Wheen 1999 , p. 18
  2. Berlin 1996 , pp. 17–23
  3. Hunt 2009 , pp. 9–16
  4. Easton & Guddat 1997 , p. 35
  5. Hunt 2009 , p. 55
  6. Hunt 2009 , p. 65
  7. McLellan 1969 , p. 41
  8. Hunt 2009 , pp. 119–124
  9. Hunt 2009 , p. 1
  10. Holmes 2014 , p. 435
  11. Wheen 2006 , p. 76


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