Responsible Researchers

Prof. Dr. Caspar Ehlers
Caspar Ehlers
Group Leader
Phone: +49 (69) 789 78 - 163

Dr. Christoph H.F. Meyer
Christoph H.F. Meyer
Phone: +49 (69) 789 78 - 166
Fax: +49 (69) 789 78 - 169

Research Project | Department I/II

Perspectives for the Interpretation of Medieval Legal Texts

The project “Perspectives for the Interpretation of Medieval Legal Texts” is in his first phase focused on the exploration of the written sources of the first millennium AD. This era is in some way peculiar as far as the sources are concerned. The overwhelming majority is written in one language–Latin in the West, Greek in the East–and comparatively of a manageable size. Moreover a big deal of them is accessible in databases. However, the role of normative sources contained in this databases is relatively big as in the text of the Church Fathers. The same goes for legal texts. These works are a challenge for every analytical examination, one has to think only about problems concerning the comprehension in terms of content, the grade of investigation done until today, and the very complicated subordination dependencies to each other.

Hugo of Saint Victor; Source: Bodleian Library, Oxford, public domain Zoom Image
Hugo of Saint Victor; Source: Bodleian Library, Oxford, public domain

The analysis of words or sentences, which can be taken out of different contexts or genera, should mark the center of the investigation of these texts. Three keywords outline the horizon of the project: The sources, their quality and the quantity of the references. But these were connected only by the formulation of the question which guides the selection itself (e.g. “normative sources of the Latin west during the first millennium”).

That is why the formulation of the central question has to be the very beginning of the search, because the way of resolving is as open as the final results. The hypothesis defines the criteria for the selection of sources and has an effect therefor on the ordering of the texts such as normative texts, legal sources, writings of the Church Fathers and so on. Little consideration will be taken on the historiography of the first millennium AD. But under the aspect of adoption and dissemination they might be seen as relevant. The same goes for special kinds of sources, like liturgy and hagiography et al.


  • Caspar Ehlers, Considering the Historiography of National Laws in the Carolingian Period, in: Regional History as Cultural Identity, ed. Kenneth J. Bindas and Fabrizio Ricciardelli. Kent State University European Studies 3 (2017) 27-39
  • Caspar Ehlers, Rereading the Speech of Otto of Northeim against the Tyranny of Henry IV in Saxony, in: Confiance, bonne foi, fidélité. La notion de fides dans la vie des sociétés médiévales (vie-xve siècles) ed. Wojciech Falkowski et Yves Sassier, Paris 2018, 191-206

Supervised dissertation (Universität Würzburg)

  • Phillipp Gey, Zitate in der Historiographie der Jahrtausendwende. Funktion – Strategie – Nutzung.
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