Research Field

The Legal History of the Church

One of the defining elements in the self-image of Western legal culture is the particular ordering process that took place between secular rule and religion from the High Middle Ages to the Confessional Age. In their mutual antagonism and struggle for supremacy, they were inseparable and interdependent.

As a result of the legalist and étatist thinking that has prevailed since the turn of the 20th century and influenced by theories of modernisation and secularisation, the importance of religion for law has been underrated. For its part, the church has tended to write the history of its own law in light of theological and confessional preconceptions and a particular view of reality. Moreover, certain central but clearly delineated eras have consumed almost all the attention of modern scholarship: the history of canon law in the decades before and after Gratian for Catholicism and the 16th century for Protestantism.

Against this background, several research projects are looking to establish temporal and methodological counterpoints. These would include post-classical canon law, especially the proximity of ecclesiastical law to moral theology; the lexical examination of ecclesiastical law and theological knowledge bases in the transition from the Late Middle Ages to early modernity; and religious conflicts, migrants and the history of the Jews in German-speaking areas during the Confessional Age.

 

Research Projects

 
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