Matthias Becher

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Matthias Becher (born June 7, 1959 in Meßkirch ) is a German historian who researches the history of the early and high Middle Ages . Becher has been teaching as a professor of medieval and modern history at the University of Bonn since 1998 .

Live and act

Matthias Becher studied history and political science at the University of Konstanz from 1980 . In 1986 he passed the first state examination for the higher teaching post at grammar schools and obtained the master’s degree at the same time. From November 1989, Becher was Jörg Jarnut's research assistant at the University of Paderborn . In 1990 he received his doctorate with Michael Richter in Konstanz with the thesis Eid und Herrschaft. Investigations into the ruling ethos of Charlemagne . From 1995 to 1998 he was senior research assistant at the University of Paderborn. Becher completed his habilitation in 1995 with the thesis Rex, Dux and Gens. Investigations into the development of the Saxon duchy in the 9th and 10th centuries , for this work he was awarded the Ignaz-Theodor-Liborius-Meyer Prize . This was followed by substitute professorships at the University of Regensburg in the 1995 summer semester and at the University of Tübingen in the 1996/97 winter semester. Since 1998 Matthias Becher has been teaching as successor to Gerd Althoff as professor for the history of the Middle Ages at the University of Bonn . In 2006, Becher turned down an offer at the University of Zurich . Becher has been a corresponding member of the Historical Commission for Westphalia since 2003 , since 2008 a member of the Konstanz Working Group for Medieval History , since 2013 a full member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Arts , since 2014 a member of the Central Directorate of Monumenta Germaniae Historica . Florian Hartmann is one of his academic students .

Becher's research focus is the history of the early Middle Ages . Becher is a leading expert on the Merovingian and Carolingian times . At the center of his Konstanz dissertation were the oaths of loyalty that Charlemagne ordered in 789 and 802 across the empire. With these orders all free people of the empire were bound to the ruler by an oath. Becher sees the first oath not only as a reaction to the Hardrad conspiracy of 786, but also makes a connection with the overthrow of the Bavarian Duke Tassilo III. plausible in 788. In 1999, Becher published a brief introduction to Charlemagne, the sixth edition of which appeared in 2014. Together with Jörg Jarnut, Becher organized a conference in Bonn in April 2002 about the events that led to the replacement of the last Merovingian by King Pippin 1250 years ago . The articles about the dynasty change of 751 were published in 2004. In 2009, he published a brief account of the history of the Merovingians and Carolingians in the history compact series .

Another focus of Becher's research is the age of the Ottonians . Becher's habilitation on the emergence of the Saxon duchy in the 9th and 10th centuries and numerous other studies significantly improved the understanding of early medieval Saxony and made him an expert on the rise of the Liudolfingers .

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the death of Wilhelm Levison , Becher and Yitzhak Hen organized a conference in Bonn in October 2007. Her concern was to uphold the memory of Wilhelm Levison and his achievements and to honor “Levision's life and work in the field of tension between scientific recognition and politically determined exile”. The 16 contributions appeared in 2010 in an anthology edited by Becher and Hen. In 2009, Becher, together with Alheydis Plassmann, organized the conference “Dispute at the court in the early Middle Ages”. Dispute at the royal court was understood as "the negotiation of conflicting interests in a dispute". The 16 contributions were published in 2011 by Becher and Plassmann. In 2013, Becher initiated an autumn conference of the Constance working group on the island of Reichenau about the medieval succession to the throne in a European comparison. In researching the succession to the throne, the focus was more on a temporal and spatial comparison. In addition to the Merovingian, Carolingian and Ottonian succession to the throne, which has been intensively researched since the 19th century, other empires such as Byzantium, France, England and Spain were also in the focus. Above all, the late Middle Ages were given greater consideration at the conference. With the legitimation and representation strategies for the establishment of the succession, the construction of dynastic history and the staging of the succession to the throne as a performative act, fundamental problems of the continuation of rule were dealt with. The anthology was published by Becher in 2017. In November 2014, Becher, together with Harald Wolter-von dem Knesebeck, organized a conference entitled “Bonn 1314 - Coronation, War and Compromise” on the 700th anniversary of the coronation of Frederick the Beautiful in Bonn. The results of the conference were published in 2017 by Becher and Harald Wolter-von dem Knesebeck as an anthology.

In recent years, Becher has mainly worked on the biographies of medieval rulers. He wrote the biography of Charlemagne for the CH Beck Wissen series , which was published for the sixth time in 2014. In 2011, on the 1,500th anniversary of Clovis' death, he published his first German-language biography about the Frankish king. In 2012, Becher published a new biography of the emperor on the 1100th birthday of Otto the Great . According to Becher, Otto's success and his acquisition of the imperial crown gave decisive impetus to German history.

Since 2016, Becher has been the spokesman for the DFG special research area “Power and Rule - Premodern Configurations in a Transcultural Perspective”, in which forms of power and rule in Asia, Europe and Northern Africa are subjected to a comparative study.


Collections of articles

  • Linda Dohmen, Florian Hartmann, Hendrik Hess and Daniel König (eds.): Power and rule. Practices - structures - justifications. Selected essays for the 60th birthday. V&R unipress, Göttingen 2019, ISBN 978-3-8471-0968-6 .



  • with Dieter R. Bauer : Welf IV. - Key figure of a turning point. Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3-406-10665-1 . ( Review )
  • Sources on the history of the Guelphs and the chronicle of Burchard von Ursberg (= selected sources on the German history of the Middle Ages. Freiherr-vom-Stein-Gedächtnisausgabe. Vol. 18b). Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2007, ISBN 978-3-534-07564-5 ( review )
  • with Harald Wolter-von dem Knesebeck (Hrsg.): The King's rise of Frederick the Beautiful in 1314. Coronation, war and compromise. Böhlau, Cologne et al. 2017, ISBN 978-3-412-50546-2 .
  • The medieval succession to the throne in a European comparison (= lectures and research. Vol. 84). Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2017, ISBN 978-3-7995-6884-5 .

Web links


  1. See the reviews of Joachim Ehlers in: Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter . 62, 1998, pp. 386-389 ( digitized version ); Dieter Lent in: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte. 80, 1999, pp. 272-273 ( online ); Michel Parisse in: Francia 25/1 (1998), pp. 324-325 ( digitized version ).
  2. See the discussions by Lothar Kolmer in: Mitteilungen des Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung. 103, 1995, pp. 139-141; Hans Hubert Anton in: Historical yearbook . 118, 1998, p. 392.
  3. See the review by Hans-Werner Goetz in: Hessisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte. 51, 2001, pp. 293-294.
  4. ^ Matthias Becher, Jörg Jarnut (ed.): The dynasty change from 751. Prehistory, strategies of legitimation and memory. Munster 2004.
  5. See the review by Jennifer Dobschenzki in: H-Soz-Kult , December 21, 2009, ( online ).
  6. ^ Matthias Becher, Yitzhak Hen (ed.): Wilhelm Levison (1876-1947). A Jewish research life between academic recognition and political exile. Siegburg 2010, p. 7.
  7. Matthias Becher: Thoughts on the introduction. In: Matthias Becher, Alheydis Plassmann (ed.): Dispute at the court in the early Middle Ages. Göttingen 2011, pp. 9–15, here: p. 10.
  8. Matthias Becher, Alheydis Plassmann (ed.): Dispute at the court in the early Middle Ages. Göttingen 2011.
  9. Matthias Becher: The medieval succession to the throne in European comparison. Introductory Thoughts. In: Matthias Becher (Hrsg.): The medieval succession to the throne in European comparison. Ostfildern 2017, pp. 9–20, here: p. 19.
  10. See the reviews of Rudolf Schieffer in: Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters 74 (2018), pp. 312–313; Carsten Fischer in: Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History, German Department 136 (2019), pp. 559–563; Gerhard Lubich in: Journal for Historical Research 46 (2019), pp. 104–105 ( online ); Christian Alexander Neumann in: Sources and research from Italian archives and libraries 98 (2018), pp. 499–500 ( online ).
  11. See the reviews of Ralf Lützelschwab in: Mediaevistik. 30, 2017, pp. 448-450; Herwig Weigl in: Communications from the Institute for Austrian Historical Research. 126, 2018, pp. 185-188.
  12. See the discussions by Stephan Freund in: Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter . 79, 2015, pp. 278-282 ( online ); Thomas Wozniak in: H-Soz-Kult. October 31, 2012, ( online ); Christine Kleinjung in: Sehepunkte 13 (2013), No. 9 [15. September 2013], ( online ); Harald Derschka in: Journal for Württemberg State History. 72, 2013, pp. 525-526; Herwig Wolfram in: Communications from the Institute for Austrian Historical Research. 121, 2013, pp. 175-176 ( online ).
  13. Matthias Becher: Otto the Great. Emperor and Empire. A biography. Munich 2012, p. 271.