RIESS, LUDWIG (1861–1928), German historian. Born in Thuringia, Riess studied at the University of Berlin. Although his doctorate Geschichte des Wahl rechts zum englischen Parlament (1885; abridged translation History of the English Electoral Law in the Middle Ages; 1940) was widely hailed for its brilliant scholarship, Riess was unable to obtain a university position because he was a Jew. He therefore accepted an appointment at Tokyo Imperial University in 1887, and during the following 15 years was instrumental in furthering the spread of western historical methods, particularly of his mentor, Leopold von Ranke, in Japan. In 1902 he returned to Germany where he served as lecturer, later associate professor, at the University of Berlin.
A prolific writer, he produced many works on European history and a number of studies on Japanese topics. Best known are his Lectures on English Constitutional History (1891); Allerlei aus Japan (1904); and Historik (1912).