Leibniz Institute for European History

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The Domus Universitatis in Mainz, seat of the Leibniz Institute

The Leibniz Institute for European History (IEG) in Mainz is a non-university research institute and has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 2012 .


Founded in 1950 on the initiative of Raymond Schmittlein , the head of the Direction Générale des Affaires Culturelles of the French military government, the new institution was supposed to help overcome the historically grown national and confessional rifts between the European states and their populations by means of ›prejudice-free‹ historical research, in particular the Support German-French understanding. In particular, the research carried out at the institute should serve to revise (“detox”) the (school) history books with the long-term goal of establishing a “European history book”.

This idea came up at the end of the 1940s during the Franco-German historians' talks in Speyer, which Schmittlein had launched in 1948/49. It mingled with the Christian “Occidental” conceptions of history of a group of German historians, to whose circle the Bonn medievalist Fritz Kern (1884–1950) belonged. In 1948 he had headed the German delegation. The Catholic theologian and church historian Joseph Lortz (1887–1975) also took part in those conversations.

The first plans for the establishment of an "Institute for the History of Culture and Religion" were drafted by Kern who - as the first director of the institute - wanted to realize a religiously based, universal history ("Historia Mundi") in several volumes in addition to the didactic objective. Another founding director was Lortz, who in 1950 was appointed to an extraordinary professorship for Occidental Religious History at the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Mainz. This founding intention and history explains the division of the research institution founded in 1950 as the "Institute for European History" (IEG) (the statutes came into force on April 19, 1951) into a department for "Western religious history" and a department for "Universal history". Both departments were and are headed by a director (currently Irene Dingel and Johannes Paulmann ) who are now also appointed as professors at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.


One of the main tasks of the IEG is research into the historical foundations of Europe. According to the statutes, these are “research on the religious and spiritual traditions of Europe, their changes and crises, especially on religious differentiations, their effects and the possibilities of overcoming them”, as well as “Europe-related basic research that is suitable for the process of Europe's growing together and to understand historically the individual historical paths of the European states and peoples.

The Leibniz Institute for European History pursues these tasks in accordance with its statutes

  • through his own research projects in individual and joint work of his relatives with domestic and foreign scientists.
  • by supporting younger post-graduate scientists from Europe and other continents who work on research projects on European history and live in the institute as fellows.
  • through cooperation with other institutions at home and abroad that pursue similar goals.
  • through own publications and the promotion of other publications in which scientific issues of European research are put up for discussion.
  • through knowledge transfer to society.

Research program

The Leibniz Institute for European History (IEG) researches the historical foundations of Europe in modern times. His research is developed on an interdisciplinary basis by the Department of Western Religious History and the Department of Universal History. They range across epochs from the beginning of modern times to contemporary history. From a cross-border perspective, Europe is examined as a communication space whose internal and external borders have been repeatedly shaped by a variety of transcultural processes.

The main theme of the current research program at the IEG is dealing with difference in Europe - the forms of establishing, coping with and enabling difference in its religious, cultural, political and social dimensions. Europe is seen as a laboratory for the development of forms of regulation and limitation, but also the creation and preservation of otherness and inequality. The conflict-ridden dynamics of the "Europe" area result from the diverse interactions and entanglements that led to exchange, appropriation and integration as well as to demarcation and confrontation on the continent and beyond its borders. The research program brings together the interdisciplinary, cross-epoch and European-oriented competencies available at the IEG in three research areas:

  • Pluralization and marginality
  • Sacralization and desacralization
  • Mobility and Belonging

From 2008 to 2018, the IEG and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz ran the DFG-funded graduate college The Christian Churches Facing the Challenge of ›Europe‹ .

In addition, the IEG reflects on and promotes the ongoing digital transformation of historical research and publication. The aim is for the research areas of the IEG to include digital methods, processes and instruments in their scientific work in dialogue with the digital humanities. In 2019, the area “Digital historical research | DH Lab “newly established. On the one hand, the development of digital methods and the activities of digitally supported research are bundled here and, at the same time, the area acts as a cross-sectional unit in the work of the research areas at the IEG.

Scholarship and visiting scholars program

The Leibniz Institute for European History (IEG) awards research grants for young researchers (doctoral candidates and postdocs) from Germany and abroad. Research projects by doctoral students and postdocs who deal with the religious, political, social and cultural history of Europe between around 1450 and around 1970 are funded. Comparative, transfer history and transnational projects as well as questions related to the history of the humanities and religions related to historical developments in the three monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) are particularly welcome.

The institute also accepts scholarship holders from other funding organizations as visiting scholars, such as B. the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation or the German Academic Exchange Service .

The Senior Research Fellowship Program enables renowned scientists from European and non-European countries to be invited to the IEG in Mainz for two to six months. The Senior Research Fellows can pursue their own research project there and exchange ideas with the scientists based at the institute. This means that existing collaborations are implemented and strengthened, and new joint research projects are prepared in the future.


With around 87,000 titles, the library offers literature on the history of Europe since the mid-15th century. The focus is on European and international history as well as the history of Christianity since humanism and the Reformation. The library holds numerous international specialist journals and periodicals, more than 500 in current subscriptions (see ZDB journal overview ). A large number of specialist bibliographies and general bibliographic resources are also available. All holdings can be researched in the institute's online catalog (OPAC). There you will also find the new additions for the current acquisition year as well as a large number of DFG-funded online resources and databases. The library belongs to the local library system (LBS) Rheinhessen (organization and technology: UB Mainz) within the framework of the higher-level library network HeBIS .

See also


  • Claus Scharf: History as social and transnational communication The Institute for European History Mainz under the direction of Karl Otmar Freiherr von Aretin . In: Christof Dipper , Jens Ivo Engels (ed.): Karl Otmar von Aretin: Historian and contemporary. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2015, ISBN 978-3631666142 , pp. 101–128.
  • Winfried Schulze , Corine Defrance : The establishment of the Institute for European History Mainz (= publications of the Institute for European History Mainz. Supplement 36). von Zabern, Mainz 1992, ISBN 3-8053-1349-7 .
  • Institute for European History Mainz 1950–2000. A documentation. Published by the Institute for European History Mainz. von Zabern, Mainz 2000, ISBN 3-8053-2688-2 .
  • Winfried Schulze: Between the Occident and Western Europe. The establishment of the Institute for European History in Mainz in 1950. In: Ulrich Pfeil (Hrsg.) The return of German history to the “ecumenism of historians.” An approach to the history of science (= Paris historical studies. Vol. 89). Oldenbourg, Munich 2008, ISBN 3-486-58795-1 , pp. 239-254 ( digitized version )
  • Winfried Schulze: German History after 1945. DTV, Munich 1993, p. 212f.
  • Robert Pech: Southeast Research in Mainz? Fritz Kern, Fritz Valjavec and the establishment of the Institute for European History. In: Rainer Bendel, Robert Pech (Hrsg.): Historiography and culture of remembrance in the European context (= displaced persons - integration - understanding. Vol. 5). Lit, Berlin 2017, ISBN 978-3-643-13788-3 , pp. 79-103.

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