Monumenta Germaniae Historica

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Martina Hartmann as President of MGH at her workplace.

Monumenta Germaniae Historica ( MGH , Latin for "Historical monuments of Germany") is a scientifically edited edition series of historical documents to German history of the Middle Ages . The same name is used to designate the Munich- based institute that publishes this collection. It emerged from the Society for Older German History , founded in 1819, and today it bears the name Monumenta Germaniae Historica (German Institute for Research into the Middle Ages) . The aim of the institution is to make medieval text sources accessible to research and to contribute to scientific research into German and European history through critical studies.

The MGH editions represent a central collection of sources on medieval history; they are often also the authoritative academic editions of the respective texts. The MGH also publishes the German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages (DA), one of the most important specialist journals in medieval studies . In the 19th century in particular, the editions exerted a decisive influence on German medieval research; to this day it is one of the largest coordinated works in the field of historical research.


Start of the project and conception

Freiherr vom Stein (painting by Johann Christoph Rincklake , 1804)

The Monumenta Germaniae Historica project was founded at the beginning of 1819 by Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom und zum Stein and set itself the ambitious goal of editing the essential historical sources on the “German” past. Initially, the company was organized in the form of a “Society for Older German History”, the general management of which was set up on January 20 in Stein's apartment in Frankfurt. After five consultative sessions, the statutes were announced on June 12, 1819 and the society was opened to a broader (scientific) public. Johann Lambert Büchler gave her and with it the MGH the motto Sanctus amor patriae dat animum (Latin for "The holy love of the fatherland gives the (right) spirit") - a motto in the sense of romantic nationalism at the beginning of the 19th century. Initial differences of opinion about the type and scope of the source collection were fundamentally clarified with the central management plan of 1824, for example it was decided to divide the publications into the five main departments (see next section). At that time, among other things, the following were given as editorial rules: The best manuscripts of a work should be considered in full, the poorer ones only in a selection. The original spelling of the manuscripts should be retained except for the distinction between u, v and w, the punctuation could be modernized.

The publisher Heinrich Wilhelm Hahn the Younger was responsible for the printing ; he passed the order on to Friedrich Bernhard Culemann . The publication was then held by Hahnschen Buchhandlung until 2014 .

In addition, the time from around 500 to 1500 was set as a guideline for the duration of the Monumenta, from the cessation of classical literature to the general use of the art of printing . Ancient classical writers - such as Tacitus - should only be taken into account in extracts. With regard to the spatial extent , the medieval expansion of the Roman-German Empire should be decisive, so that German Switzerland, Alsace-Lorraine, the Baltic provinces and the Netherlands would also be taken into account. In addition, the most important Germanic tribes such as the Vandals , Burgundians and Lombards should also be taken into account: “Until they are mixed up or their fall”, their story “in the broader sense also belongs to ours”, says the company's plan for older German historians 1824. However, the warning from Barthold Georg Niebuhr was also followed , who had great reservations about including the sources of some of the “emigrated tribes”: the Franks were to be accepted without further ado, because their settlement area was part of the Carolingian Empire ; but the Anglo-Saxons , he objected, were toto orbe divisi (Latin: "with their entire (settlement) area separated from [the Roman-German Empire]"), as were the Visigoths .

Further development

Georg Heinrich Pertz was the head of the company for many years (1823–1873) ; During the first decades, the secretary was Johann Friedrich Böhmer . One of the most important other employees was Georg Waitz , who was primarily responsible for the scriptores series . Also in 1875 the association was converted into a public corporation, whose first president was Pertz. A central directorate was set up in Berlin, which was financed by the German Reich . In 1935 the Monumenta Germaniae Historica was dissolved into a Reich Institute for Older German History .

In 1945 the Monumenta Germaniae Historica was restored by representatives of all German academies and the Austrian Academy of Sciences . The MGH have been based in Munich since 1949, and in the Bavarian State Library since 1967 . In 1963, the Free State of Bavaria gave the institute the legal form of a corporation under public law . In 2004, MGH, financially supported by the German Research Foundation , began to put all of its editions that are older than three years online in the form of digitized scans and full texts (see web links). The volumes of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica have been published by Harrassowitz Verlag since 2014 .

Numerous MGH chairmen have obtained their doctorates from previous presidents of the publishing company, which documents the high level of personal continuity and the close amalgamation of university teaching and institute work. Since April 2012 the Fuhrmann student Claudia Märtl has been President of MGH for a limited period of two years. Shortly afterwards, the MGH were subjected to an evaluation by the State Ministry for Education, Culture, Science and Art. The intention was to unite the institute with the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Märtl's efforts to institutionally secure the presidential position on a permanent basis failed because of the hesitant attitude of the ministry under the leadership of Wolfgang Heubisch ( FDP ). In this context, at the instigation of the central management, a letter was written to the then Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer , in which the dangers of the evaluation proposals for Bavarian science policy were pointed out. On March 31, 2014 Märtl resigned as president in protest against the austerity measures of the Free State of Bavaria and reform demands of the State Ministry, which had been taken over by Ludwig Spaenle (CSU) . In view of the savings measures taken by the Free State of Bavaria, which endanger the continued existence of the institution, Märtl decided not to extend the term beyond March 31, 2014.

From 2014 to 2018 Marc-Aeilko Aris was acting president of the MGH. During this time the statutes of MGH were changed, which resulted in significant structural changes. The Schieffer student Martina Hartmann became MGH President in 2018. Stefan Petersen became the President's deputy . The regular budget of the MGH had expenses of 1,804,137.35 euros. Of this, 1,750,752.10 euros went to the state budget and 53,385.25 euros were financed by third-party funds.

On January 20, 2019, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica celebrated the 200th anniversary of its foundation. On this occasion, events will take place in Berlin, Munich, Rome and Vienna in 2019. The anniversary publication “Making the Middle Ages Readable” was published in summer 2019. A target agreement was signed with the Bavarian Minister of Science Bernd Sibler in January 2019. The aim is to advance digitization and to intensify work with foreign scientists.

Publications and departments of the Monumenta

Title of the edition "Diplomata Imperii", Volume I, Hanover 1872

The publications of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica appear mainly in five sections, the Scriptores (Latin for “writer” - contains narrative sources such as vitae , chronicles , annals , state writings ), the Leges (Latin for “laws” - legal sources in the broader sense; normative texts ), the Diplomata (Latin for "documents" - mainly documents of the Frankish and German rulers), the Epistolae (Latin for "letters") and the Antiquitates (Latin for "antiquities" - contains among other things poems, necrology , memorial books ). The individual publications and various subordinate edition series appear within these departments. The numbers of bands mentioned here refer to the respective row count; regardless of this, some of the individual numbers contain several partial volumes.

Division I: Scriptores

  • Auctores antiquissimi (15 volumes, 1877-1919): Texts from late antiquity and the history of the Germanic peoples
  • Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum (7 volumes, 1885–1951): Time of the Merovingians
  • Scriptores rerum Langobardicarum et Italicarum saec. VI – IX (1 volume, 1878): Italian historians of the 6th to 9th centuries
  • Gesta pontificum Romanorum (1 volume, 1898): Edition of the Liber Pontificalis ; A continuation of the sub-series is planned
  • Scriptores (with the addition in folio ; so far 39 volumes, 1826–): actual main series of the department
  • Scriptores rerum Germanicarum, Nova series (so far 25 volumes, 1922– ?: Second main series of the department in octave format )
  • Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum separatim editi (so far 81 volumes, 1841–): individual editions of Latin source texts for study use, also in octave format
  • Scriptores qui vernacula lingua usi sunt / German chronicles and other history books of the Middle Ages (6 volumes, 1877–1909): German-language chronicles on medieval history
  • Libelli de lite imperatorum et pontificum saeculis XI. et XII. conscripti (3 volumes, 1891–1897): pamphlets from the epoch of the investiture controversy and the 12th century
  • State writings of the later Middle Ages (so far 8 volumes, 1941–): political treatises etc. of the late Middle Ages

Department II: Leges

  • Leges (5 volumes, 1835–1889): Original series of publications in folio format for legal sources, now largely replaced by editions in other sub-series
  • Leges nationum Germanicarum (so far 5 volumes, 1888–): Collections of the people's rights of Germanic tribes of the migration period
  • Capitularia regum Francorum (2 volumes, 1883–1897): Capitularies of the Merovingians and Carolingians
  • Capitularia regum Francorum, Nova series (so far 1 volume, 1996–): New edition of the Franconian capitularies
  • Capitula episcoporum (so far 4 volumes, 1984–): Bischöfliche Kapitularien
  • Concilia (so far 8 volumes and 4 supplement volumes, 1893–): documents on the medieval councils , so far only on the early and high Middle Ages
  • The council ordines of the early and high Middle Ages / Ordines de celebrando concilio (1996): Edition of various council ordines
  • Constitutiones et acta publica imperatorum et regum (so far 13 volumes, 1893–): Laws and treaties of the Roman-German rulers
  • Formulas Merowingici et Karolini aevi (so far 1 volume, 1882–1886): Early medieval formulas for the formulation of documentary texts
  • Fontes iuris Germanici antiqui in usum scholarum separatim editi (so far 16 volumes, 1869–): Individual editions of important legal sources of medieval German history for study use
  • Fontes iuris Germanici antiqui, Nova series (so far 10 volumes, 1933–): New series of medieval legal sources, especially the right mirror

Department III: Diplomata

  • The documents of the Merovingians / Diplomata regum Francorum e stirpe Merovingica (2 volumes, 2001): Documents of the Franconian Merovingian Empire ; replaces the volume Diplomata regum Francorum e stirpe Merowingica from 1872.
  • The documents of the Arnulfingen / Diplomata maiorum domus regiae e stirpe Arnulforum (1 volume, 2011): Documents of the Arnulfingischen Hausmeier
  • The Carolingian documents / Diplomata Karolinorum (so far 4 volumes, 1906–): Carolingian documents except for the rulers of the East Franconian Empire
  • The documents of the Burgundian Rudolfinger / Regum Burgundiae e stirpe Rudolfina Diplomata et Acta (1 volume, 1977): Documents of the Guelph rulers of the Kingdom of Burgundy
  • The documents of the German Carolingians / Diplomata regum Germaniae ex stirpe Karolinorum (4 volumes, 1932–1960): Documents of the East Franconian rulers
  • The documents of the German kings and emperors / Diplomata regum et imperatorum Germaniae (so far 19 volumes in significantly more sub-volumes, 1879–): documents of the Roman-German rulers, so far with interruptions from Conrad I (911) to Alfonso of Castile (1265)
  • Lay prince and dynasty documents of the imperial era (so far 2 volumes, 1941–): documents of secular princes
  • The documents of the Latin kings of Jerusalem / Diplomata regum Latinorum Hierosolymitanorum (1 volume in 4 parts, 2010): Documents of the crusader kings of Jerusalem

Division IV: Epistolae

  • Epistolae (so far 8 volumes, 1887–): Letters of the Early Middle Ages, from Gregory the Great to Hinkmar von Reims (in quarto format )
  • The letters of the German Imperial Era (so far 9 volumes, 1949–): Letters of the High Middle Ages
  • Letters of the Late Middle Ages (so far 3 volumes, 2000–): Letters of the Late Middle Ages
  • Epistolae saeculi XIII e regestis pontificum romanorum selectae (3 volumes, 1883–1894): Letters of the 13th century and Pope regesten
  • Epistolae selectae (so far 5 volumes, 1916–): Various other letter editions

Department V: Antiquities

  • Poetae latini medii aevi (so far 6 volumes, 1881–): Poetic texts from the time of the Carolingians and Ottonians
  • Necrologia Germaniae (5 volumes, 1886–1920; Supplementary volume 1884): Nekrologe deutscher Bishoprics; largely replaced by the following two rows
  • Libri memoriales (so far 2 volumes, 1970–): Liber memorialis of the Remiremont monastery and the Carolingian imperial calendar
  • Libri memoriales et necrologia, nova series (so far 8 volumes, 1979–): New series for necrologists and memory books

Other publications

Outside of the five sections (or published) at the Monumenta Germaniae Historica:

  • the magazine “ German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages ” (since 1937; predecessors were 1820–1874 the magazine “Archive of the Society for Older German History” and 1876–1935 the “New Archive of the Society for Older German History”; until 1951 “Deutsches Archive for the history of the Middle Ages ")
  • the series of publications "Writings of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica" ​​(57 volumes so far, 1938–)
  • the publication series "Sources on the intellectual history of the Middle Ages" (30 volumes so far, 1955–)
  • the publication series “German Middle Ages. Critical study texts "(4 volumes, 1937–1949)
  • the publication series "Hebrew Texts from Medieval Germany" (so far 3 volumes, 2005–)
  • the series “Monumenta Germaniae Historica - Aids” (30 volumes so far, 1975–): accompanying studies on the source editions, manuscript indexes, incipit indexes , concordances
  • the publication series "Studies and Texts" (so far 62 volumes, 1991–)


The presidents of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica were from its foundation until today:

The " Selected Sources on German History of the Middle Ages " (Freiherr vom Stein Memorial Edition / FSGA) prints the medieval sources in the original language and in German translation.


  • Harry Bresslau : History of the Monumenta Germaniae historica. Hahn, Hanover 1921 (reprint Hanover 1976, ISBN 3-7752-5276-2 ; digital version ).
  • Michael Klein: From the beginnings of the “Monumenta Germaniae Historica”: Karl Georg Dümgé (1772-1845) in reports and personal reports. In: Journal for the History of the Upper Rhine 140 (1992), pp. 221-265.
  • Herbert Grundmann : Monumenta Germaniae Historica 1819–1969. MGH, Munich 1969 (reprint 1979), ISBN 3-921575-90-7 .
  • Medieval text traditions and their critical appraisal. Contributions from the Monumenta Germaniae Historica to the 31st German Historians' Day MGH, Munich 1976, ISBN 3-921575-02-8 .
  • Alfred Gawlik (Red.): On the history and work of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Exhibition on the occasion of the 41st German Historians' Day in Munich 17. – 20. September 1996. Catalog. MGH, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-88612-090-2 .
  • Lothar Gall , Rudolf Schieffer (Ed.): Source editions and no end? Symposium of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and the Historical Commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Munich, 22./23. May 1998 (= historical magazine. Supplement; NF, vol. 28). Oldenbourg, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-486-64428-9 (the essays by Arnold Esch : The handling of the historian with his sources. About the continuing need for editions and Rudolf Schieffer: The development of the Middle Ages using the example of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica also as Special edition, MGH, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-88612-145-3 ).
  • Horst Fuhrmann : "Everything was just human". Scholarly life in the 19th and 20th centuries, illustrated using the example of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and its staff. CH Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-40280-1 ( online ).
  • Bernhard Assmann, Patrick Sahle : Digital is better. The Monumenta Germaniae Historica with the dMGH on the way into the future - a snapshot (= writings of the Institute for Documentology and Editing. Volume 1). Universitätsverlag Cologne, Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-8370-2987-1 , full text: Cologne University Library , Wikipedia (PDF).
  • MGH, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Hrsg.): Making the Middle Ages legible. Festschrift. 200 years of Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2019, ISBN 978-3-447-11240-6 .

Web links


  1. Herbert Grundmann : Monumenta Germaniae Historica 1819-1969. MGH, Munich 1969, p. 2.
  2. ^ Hugo Thielen : Culemann, (1) Friedrich Bernhard. In: Dirk Böttcher , Klaus Mlynek, Waldemar R. Röhrbein, Hugo Thielen: Hannoversches Biographisches Lexikon . From the beginning to the present. Schlütersche, Hannover 2002, ISBN 3-87706-706-9 , p. 88.
  3. Harry Bresslau : History of the Monumenta Germaniae historica. Hanover 1921, p. 138 f.
  4. Monumenta Germaniae Historica , accessed on January 8, 2019.
  5. ^ Claudia Märtl: Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Report for the year 2013/14. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages , vol. 70 (2014), issue 1, pp. I – XVIII ( online ).
  6. Heribert Prantl: A monument wavers. The "Monumenta Germaniae Historica" ​​are the memory of core Europe. Bavaria sinned against it. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , No. 69, March 24, 2014, p. 9 ( online ); Claudia Märtl: Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Report for the year 2013/14. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages 70 (2014), pp. I – XVIII. ( online ).
  7. Heribert Prantl : A monument wavers. The "Monumenta Germaniae Historica" ​​are the memory of core Europe. Bavaria sinned against it . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , March 24, 2014 ( PDF ); Astrid Herbold : The nation's memory is threatened. In: Der Tagesspiegel , April 1, 2014 ( online ).
  8. Martina Hartmann: Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Report on the year 2018/19. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages 75, 2019, pp. I – XVIII, here: p. III.
  9. Wolfgang Görl: The memory of the Middle Ages. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , January 19, 2019, p. R4.
  10. Gesta pontificum Romanorum on , accessed on April 3, 2017.

Coordinates: 48 ° 8 ′ 52.6 "  N , 11 ° 34 ′ 51.4"  E