Wilhelm Mannhardt (March 26, 1831, Friedrichstadt – December 25, 1880, Danzig) was a German scholar, mythologist and folklorist. He is known for his work on Germanic mythology, on Baltic mythology, and other pre-Christian European pantheons; and for his championing of the solar theory, namely in the early years of his career, under the influence of Jakob Grimm. Later on, Mannhardt focused more on vegetation spirits from an evolutionist point of view, namely the primitive tree cult and its later developments.
He was also a collector and carried out field work despite poor health. He was a forerunner of James Frazer's The Golden Bough (1890), and like Frazer, his theories have subsequently been heavily criticized.
- Rosa, Frederico Delgado, 2018. « Avant Le Rameau d’Or : biographie de Wilhelm Mannhardt, précurseur oublié de James Frazer » in Bérose, Encyclopédie en ligne sur l’histoire de l’anthropologie et des savoirs ethnographiques, Paris, IIAC-LAHIC, UMR 8177.
- For example, von Sydow, C. W. (Dec 1934). "The Mannhardtian Theories about the Last Sheaf and the Fertility Demons from a Modern Critical Point of View". Folklore. 45 (4): 291–309. doi:10.2307/1257855. JSTOR 1257855.