Ecclesiastical historian; b. Bingen, Germany, Oct. 25, 1831; d. Mainz, Nov. 5, 1903. After his ordination, he made postgraduate studies under Johannes dÖllinger in Munich. In 1857 he began teaching Church history at the seminary in Mainz and became a full professor in 1862. In 1885 he became professor of Canon Law there also. He was consecrated bishop of Mainz in 1899. Brück was a productive scholar and one of the first Catholic historians to study the 18th and 19th centuries methodically and comprehensively. Since this period was marked in many countries by a decline of Catholic rights and influence and by a struggle for their maintenance, a defensive attitude crept into his books. The kulturkampf provided him with scholarly leisure by closing the Mainz seminary, but it also heightened the apologetical tone in his writings. His first book, Die rationalistischen Bestrebungen im katholischen Deutschland, shaped the Catholic outlook on the theological and pastoral implications of the enlightenment in Germany into the 20th century. His Geschichte der katholischen Kirche in Deutschland im 19. Jh. and Die Kulturkampfbewegung in Deutschland, 1807–1900 exhibit an acute awareness of the importance of current problems, but are now outdated except for the source materials contained in them. Brück's textbook on Church history, Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte, was translated into French and Italian; it appeared in English as History of the Catholic Church. Brück lacked warmth in human contacts, but he had a strong energetic personality.
Bibliography: g. allemang, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1912–) 10:882–883. a. p. brck, Neue deutsche Biographie (Berlin 1953–) 2:654. l. lenhart, "Dr. Heinrich Brück, 1831–1903: Der Kirchenhistoriker auf dem Mainzer Bischofsstuhl 1900–03," Archiv für mittelrheinische Kirchengeschichte 15:261–333.