Institute of Medieval History


Research focus


Ongoing and recent research project

Doctoral training network „East and West 400–600“

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen PatzoldProf. Dr. Irmgard Männlein-Robert (Institute of Philology), Prof. Dr. Mischa Meier (Institute of Ancient History)

Project Homepage: Doctoral training network East and West 400–600"

Prosopography of the Gallic episcopate (400–700) (DFG project)

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold

DFG Kolleg-Forschergruppe „Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages“

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner (Institute of Ancient History), Prof. Dr. Mischa Meier (Institute of Ancient History), Dr. Paolo Tedesco (DFG Kolleg-Forschergruppe)

Projekt Homepage: DFG Kolleg-Forschergruppe „Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages“

Nomen et Gens

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold

„Nomen et gens“ is an interdisciplinary research project in which historians and linguists work together. The primary objective of the project is to enhance our comprehension of the transformation of the Roman World at the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. On the one hand we make personal names, which have not yet been taken into account as historic-cultural or etymological sources, available. Furthermore, a prosopography of the continental European gentes ranging from the 4th century AD to the 8th century AD is being developed. The centerpiece of the project is a database which aims to register all the recorded Names and Persons of continental Europe between 400 to 800. The data has been gathered peripherally since the mid-nineties and shall now be made publicly available online.

Project Homepage:

Priests in the Carolingian Period

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold

Local Priests and their communities in the early middle ages. An edition of handbooks of priests

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold, Andreas Öffner

Project description :

Human resources: Propping up agrarian labor and threatened ruling orders between 300 und 900 C.E.

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner (Institute of Ancient History), Prof. Dr. Mischa Meier (Institute of Ancient History)

Project Homepage: SFB 923

Project E02 studies how elites in late antiquity and the early middle ages managed the threat (some­times latent, more often real enough) to their socio-economic power base posed by a paucity of agra­rian labor. Central to this project is the traditionally accessible instrument of re-ordering, i.e. recourse to regulations designed to inhibit the social and spatial mobility of agrarian labor. The project will undertake a comparative study of three phases in which this phenomenon underwent signi­fi­cant aggravation, to the point of generating a threat discourse along with attendant practices of re-ordering in the form of new legal institutes, administrative measures, and administrative correspondence.

Edition of the Carolingian capitularies

Contact person Tübingen: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold

Projekt Homepage: Capitularia

Edition of the False Capitularies of Benedictus Levita

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schmitz, Dr. Veronika Lukas (Munich)

Projekt Homepage: <>

The project of critically editing the capitulary collection of Benedictus Levita, which was composed by the Pseudo-Isidorian forgers or by someone close to them and which comprises three books with a total of more than 1700 chapters and purports to be a continuation of the much smaller Collectio of Abbot Ansegis of Fontanelle, has a long and troublesome history.

Researchers still have to rely on the edition prepared by Étienne Baluze in 1677, which was an excellent achievement in its time, but does no longer meet modern requirements.

The edition that appeared in 1837 within the MGH Leges is basically just a revised reprint of Baluze's work: Pertz was not very much interested in Benedictus Levita, as he believed amongst other things that this collection – contrary to Ansegis's collection – "had never been in official use in Germany." That is why he had young Ludwig Bethmann only compare the text with the Gotha manuscript I 84 (then unknown to Baluze) and Friedrich Heinrich Knust prepare an analysis of the sources. Thus he wanted to create a "makeshift improvement" of Baluze's edition, which he otherwise held in high regard, and "leave it to posterity to do more work on the text". The result was a strange mixture of texts, which was on the whole not better than what had been provided by Baluze, and in some places even worse.

Thus there was no denying that the collection of Benedictus was amongst the more pressing desiderata for a critical edition, when, as the Folio edition had gone out of print, the Zentraldirektion decided to prepare a new edition and when the studies by Alfred Boretius had shown that Pertz's edition was in need of a revision. But neither Boretius nor his designated successor, the very talented Victor Krause, ever touched the text. Krause died 1891 while proofreading the index of his second volume of capitularies at the age of just 31 years.

That very year the Zentraldirektion assigned the task to Emil Seckel, then a young private lecturer at the university of Berlin. Seckel worked on Benedictus Levita until his death in 1924: He did groundbreaking work on the sources of Benedictus, but did not yet tackle the edition itself. Seckel's successor, Josef Juncker, continued the studies on the sources, but he also got stuck in the beginnings of the critical edition. Anyway, he is most probably responsible for the strange text samples which are kept as "schedulae pseudoisidorianae" in the archives of the Monumenta.

After Juncker's death in 1938 Johannes Hollnsteiner was tasked with the continuation of the work, but he made no discernible contributions. And thus the whole project died off. In 1972 Horst Fuhrmann remarked succinctly: "A new edition of the capitulary collection of Benedictus Levita is currently not planned within the MG."

It was only in 1998 that the Zentraldirektion decided to resume work on the project: Both an edition in book form and an online edition are planned. (Schmitz)

From Carolingian order to société féodale? Threatened order and re-ordering around 900 C.E. (SFB 923)

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold/Dr. des. Annette Grabowsky


Projekt Homepage: SFB 923

Project F02 studies the threatened order of the crumbling Carolingian Empire around the year 900, showing how actors in three of the Empire’s regions were able to mobilize legal texts of both worldly and ecclesiastical provenance and historical memory itself as re-ordering resources. The operant assumption is that although legal texts and historical memory were essential for practicing crisis management, such was the manuscript culture by then (900 C.E.) that their availability could no longer be assumed. This first had to be secured by a process of excerption, compilation, etc., from extant manuscripts, before actors could be mobilized for such purposes.

Space and Politics: Perception and practice in the Frankish and Post-Frankish kingdoms (9th to 11th century)

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold

Project Homepage: Espace et politique


Regino of Prüm, Handbook for Visitation

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Wilfried Hartmann

As part of the Freiherr-vom-Stein series, a bilingual edition of Regino von Prüm's canonical work (written around 906) was published in 2004. Preparations are also being made for a new critical edition of this work.

History of Medieval Canon Law

Contact person and affiliates: Prof. Dr. Wilfried Hartmann, Kenneth Pennington, Contributors: over 50 scholars from Germany, USA, Canada, England, Italy, France, Spain, Greece

Funding: National Endowment for the Humanities (USA); Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung; Humboldt-Stiftung (Transcoop)

For several years now, a multi-volume handbook on the history of canon law in the Middle Ages is being prepared and successively published in English.

Doctoral training network „Castle and Nobility“

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold, Prof. Dr. Sigrid Hirbodian (Institut für Geschichtliche Landeskunde und Historische Hilfswissenschaften), Prof. Dr. Klaus Ridder (Institute of German Language and Literature), Prof. Dr. Jörn Staecker (Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology)

Project Homepage: Doctoral training network „Castle and Nobility“

Violent Protests in Cities and Clerical Institutions: The Age of the Investiture Controversy in a European Perspective

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Steffen Patzold

Projekt Homepage: SFB 923

Project A01 compares violent protests in cities and religious communities in the German-speaking regions in the southwest of the Holy Roman Empire, Anjou, and northern Italy around 1100 A.D. It aims to 1) identify more sophisticated explanations to account for the severity and protracted length of the Investiture Controversy, 2) examine the social changes that occurred around 1100 as a European phenomenon extending beyond the boundaries of national master narratives, and 3) further develop the field of medieval conflict studies and its methodology by overcoming the dichotomy of “modern” and “pre-modern.”

Prekarie, Leibding, feudum: Provision, supply, and the dichotomy of society north of the Alps, 11th–14th century

Contact person: Dr. Marco Veronesi

Precariae, life annuities, and feuda: Provision, maintenance, and the dichotomy of society north of the alps, 11th–14th century: Medievalists in Germany as in other countries have done a great deal of research on the different forms of charity in the Early and High Middle Ages, yet they did not consider any forms of individual ,provision‘, i. e. measures regarding the sustenance for one's old age or for cases of invalidity and poverty. Older approaches, which recognized the early-medieval precaria as a precursor of late­medieval life annuities (LeibdingLeibgeding), fell victim to the model of a bipartite, dichotomic society, established in the 19th century. This model separated a higher, vasallitic feudalism from a rural, mean system of land tenure (the ,Grundherrschaft‘) in which the precaria didn't fit anymore. In this regard the research field of individual provision leads directly to the debates about Susan Reynolds work Fiefs and Vasalls from 1994. In the wake of this study the precaria was recognized as not being a mere prefiguration of the later fiefs, but a contractual form on his own, being still in use during the High Middle Ages, with significant impact on economy and society. As recently a strong affinity between the precariae and many ,lesser‘ forms of fiefs is claimed, i. e. the so­called ,Rentenlehen‘, whose beneficiaries have been neither peasants nor any noblemen, these ,lesser‘ forms of fiefs will be equally object of the study. They will be considered under the perspective of feudal or lordly ,maintenance‘. The aim of the study thus consists of a thoroughgoing investigation of the forms of ,provision‘ and ,maintenance‘ from the 11th to the 14th centuries and the social role they played in a recently disintegrating concept of feudalism.

Welfish court regulations up to 1600

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Ellen Widder

In recent years, court regulations have come into the focus of research as a means of understanding the functioning of late medieval and early modern courts. In cooperation with the Residence Commission at the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and the Chair of Niedersächsische Landesgeschichte at the University of Göttingen, a repertory of the Welfish court regulation will be established.


Heinrich VII.

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Ellen Widder

Projektbeschreibung: For the Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, a biography of Emperor Henry VII. (*1278/79, died 1313) is under preparation.


Dynastic Ruptures as Threats to Political and Social Order in the 14th/15th Centuries (SFB 923)

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Ellen Widder


Projekt Homepage: SFB 923

Project C02 examines the threat to socio-political order associated with dynastic ruptures in the late Middle Ages. On both a macro and micro level, the individual comparative studies will respectively analyse what kinds of threats emerged when rulers had no legitimate heirs, how these threats were communicated and the consequences associated with these threat situations.

Regesta Imperii – Regestenkommission Arbeitsstelle Papstregesten

Contact person: Prof. Dr. Klaus Herbers (Erlangen), Dr. Karin Baaken, Dr. Karl-Augustin Frech, Dr. Ulrich Schmidt, Prof. Dr. h. c. Dr. phil. Dr. theol. Harald Zimmermann
Further information: Homepage of the Regesta Imperii

Funding: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz; Land Baden-Württemberg