Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft
Transforming matter: craftsmen, mobility, networks and skills in the Carolingian world (751-888)

The aim of this project is to focus on early medieval craftsmen. These agents are distinguished from the others by their titles, since they refer to their ability to transform raw materials into material goods, and constitute a specific component of early medieval societies, displaying a consciousness linked to their work. They are certainly workers, but they are also repositories of specific technical skills that move with them. There are many kinds of craftsmen that emerge from medieval sources: from those who deal with more easily accessible materials to those who handle more precious materials and are subject, therefore, to special control by the public authority; a fact that gives these agents a special status connected to the preciousness of the material itself. My research will carry out a comprehensive mapping of the attestations of craftsmen in written sources from the Carolingian Age (751-888). I will focus on the areas that offer more consistent documentary evidence for the regnum Italiae, reviewing the evidence contained in the public and private early medieval sources. This will allow a comparison between the situation before and after the Frankish conquest of the kingdom. Private sources will make it possible to detect and observe not only the presence of craftsmen in certain areas and their mobility, but also their networks and in some cases their writing skills, thus opening a window on the literacy of these agents. In order to study other areas of the Carolingian empire, reference will instead be made to the cartularies and to the Libri traditionum of some Carolingian monasteries and bishoprics. This will provide a better understanding of the multiple regional contexts within which artisans and their work fit into and moved through the Carolingian empire. Thus, other types of sources from the Carolingian Age, such as the Capitularies, the Epistolae, the Annals, or other narrative sources will also be investigated. A further aspect that could be studied is the transmission and circulation of practical knowledge transmitted by manuscripts produced in the various cultural centres of Carolingian Europe. The investigation will also be able to use some IT tools, such as the database Languages and Agents of the Carolingian Power in Italy, which I helped to set up as part of the PRIN 2017 project (Ruling in hard times) – which allows the geo-referencing of the agents' mobility through GIS system – and the various other databases currently available. By doing so, I will be able to observe the mobility of these agents both over long distances and locally, the creation of networks of relationships and patrimonial interests, as well as the similarities and differences between the various regions of the Carolingian world.