Paul Münch (historian)

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Paul Münch at the age of 65

Paul Münch (born July 24, 1941 in Bichishausen ) is a German university professor and historian .


Youth and education

The son of a farmer and village mayor in the Swabian Alb grew up in social circumstances that around 1950 still had the character of traditional societies: firmly rooted in religion, in Bichishausen in Catholicism and rural living conditions.

Paul Münch attended elementary school, one of the then notorious dwarf schools . At the age of ten he first moved to the Catholic boarding school of the Pallottines in Schwäbisch Gmünd , later in Bruchsal , where he graduated from high school in 1960. From 1960 to 1962 he attended the Pedagogical Institute Weingarten in order to be trained as a primary school teacher, and then taught at various rural and urban primary and secondary schools until 1964. a. in Indelhausen (Lautertal). In 1964 he married and at the same time began studying German and Latin studies, from 1966 also history at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen , which he completed in 1969 with the state examination. In 1973 he did his doctorate under Ernst Walter Zeeden with the study of breeding and order. Reformed church constitutions in the 16th and 17th centuries. This work formed the basis for his later work on the history of religion and denomination. His children were born in 1973 and 1977.

At the Federal Academy for Musical Youth Education in Trossingen , he was trained as a state-certified music teacher. From 1974 to 1984 he was the conductor of the Thanheim band . On June 5, 2016, Paul Münch was appointed Honorary Conductor of the Thanheim Music Band in the Hohenzollernhalle Bisingen at the ceremony "225 Years of the Thanheim Music Band" .

Academic activity

From 1969 to 1982 Paul Münch worked as a research assistant, later assistant at Ernst Walter Zeeden's chair and in sub-project Z of the Collaborative Research Center 8 Late Middle Ages and Reformation . In 1982 he completed his habilitation with a thesis on the bourgeois canon of virtues, in particular the terms order, diligence and thrift . Shortly after his appointment as professor of modern history in Tübingen (1984 for a limited period), Paul Münch was also appointed professor of modern history (focus on early modern times) at what was then the University of Essen in 1984 . He was vice dean and dean of Faculty 1 (1986 to 1990), elected expert reviewer of the German Research Foundation (2000 to 2004), chairman of the Early Modern Age Working Group in the Association of Historians in Germany (1999 to 2001) and, since 1994, chairman of the advisory board of the Institute for European Cultural history in Augsburg .


From a scientific point of view, Paul Münch's work shows numerous links to the work of his academic teacher Ernst Walter Zeeden, especially at the beginning of his publication activity. This is not only evident from the numerous contributions to historical atlases from the early days of his publishing activity, but above all from his religious and cultural-historical works.

The denominational historical works are first aligned constitutional history, but devote himself increasingly to questions of a social history of the religion , which differs from the former ruling denominational certain religious history knows delineate. At the same time, Paul Münch strives to relativize the dominance of Protestant perspectives, which since the small German narrowing (1866/1871) at the latest led to a view that tried to disqualify everything Catholic as backward-looking, backward, unenlightened, dogmatic, etc. Paul Münch countered this with examples of Protestant dogmatism (Calvinism), Catholic industry and industrial development in Catholic territories, as well as the dogmatic effect of the Enlightenment (race). The north-south divide that existed with the Protestant perspective was therefore always reversed by Paul Münch: When there was still no culture in northern Germany, there was already culture in what later became Catholic in southern Germany and what later became Austria.

The socio-historically guided analysis is particularly clearly recognizable in the contribution to the so-called second Reformation, in which, in connection with the ecclesiastically organized neighborhood surveillance, it becomes clear that Calvinism, alongside and perhaps even before the reformatio doctrinae, i.e. the change in teaching, is about a reformatio vitae went, d. H. about the improvement, even moralization, of human everyday life . It was precisely in this that Reformed church practice differed from the Lutheran practice.

The cultural-historical works of Paul Münch are primarily committed to the paradigm of the history of mentality , i.e. questions that are devoted to the change in fundamental social values ​​and forms of belief. In the beginning, it is also about showing that social change began before the Reformation and by no means excluding the Catholic areas of the empire , a final reflex on the denominational models of a backward Catholicism and a modern Protestantism , and on the other hand about that Mission statement of the father of the country . Increasingly, however, questions of historical anthropology are being taken up that deal with two focal points: the relationship between humans and animals and the problem of the - mostly judgmental - differentiation between humans ( skin colors , races ). Confessional and anthropological aspects are also discussed in the work on physiognomy .

Paul Münch's main work is the study The Forms of Life in the Early Modern Period 1500–1800 , in which many of his constitutional , denominational and socio-historical works are bundled. The diverse image and text sources of the early modern period, which have always been the basis of his historical work, are prepared here to provide an overview of everyday human life in earlier times. At the same time, Paul Münch not only uses the diverse visual material in this work, which he also knows how to use in some exhibition projects. In addition to some music-historical works, Paul Münch also devotes himself to more recent sections of history.



  • The century of conflict. Germany 1600–1700. Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-17-010823-9 .
  • Life forms in the early modern period. 1500 to 1800. Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-548-26520-0 .
  • Discipline and order. Reformed church constitutions in the 16th and 17th centuries. Stuttgart 1978, ISBN 3-12-911530-7 .


  • Jubilee, Jubilee ... On the history of public and private memory. Essen 2005, ISBN 3-89861-206-6 .
  • “Experience” as a category of early modern history [contributions are based on lectures held at the third conference of the “Working Group Early Modern Age” in the German Association of Historians (Essen, September 16-18, 1999)]. Munich 2001, ISBN 3-486-64431-9 .
  • Animals and people. History and topicality of a precarious relationship. Paderborn 1998, ISBN 3-506-75805-5 .
  • Order, diligence and thrift. Texts and documents on the origin of the “civil virtues”. Munich 1984, ISBN 3-423-02940-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. JW: Thanheim is happy to have two honorary conductors. Retrieved August 2, 2016 .