Edition Practices

Monumenta Germaniae Historica

This long-term Academy Project publishes source materials for the constitutional history of the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century. Under the responsibility of Prof. Dr. Michael Menzel.

The volumes present a critical edition of select mediaeval imperial documents, letters, alliances of magnates (Fürstenbündnisse) and declarations of public order (Landfrieden), which can be regarded as the Empire’s most important constitutional documents. The project encompasses the entire middle ages, but parts of the reign of the Emperors Louis IV (1314–1347) and Charles IV (1346–1378) are still to be covered; for both these rulers together, more than 16,000 documents are passed down. Every item selected appears in its historic linguistic form as read from the manuscript source, with a commentary on the readings of the text and on its content.
The mediaeval Empire extended from Flanders in the West to Pomerania and Silesia in the East, from Holstein in the North as far as Central Italy in the South. The Emperor also maintained contacts with the Pope and the rulers of the neighbouring countries. It is therefore necessary to track down the relevant documents across an area that today comprises twelve modern states. International cooperation is indispensable.
This work brings a number of gains for research in Germany and abroad. Materials that are already known, but hard to locate, are published in a focused and scholarly form. Numerous unknown or unpublished items are presented, adding to the sources available for mediaeval studies. And, not least, these Constitutiones provide a fixed record of the documents surviving in archives, and so help to preserve a key part of the cultural heritage of central Europe.