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Virtual German Charter Network - "Virtuelles deutsches Urkundennetzwerk" (VdU)
Sub-Project: Communication Networks of Monasteries in the High and Late Middle Ages

Head of the Project: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gert Melville - Research Member: Michael Hänchen, M.A.

The project “Communication Networks of Monasteries in the High and Late Middle Ages” is part of the “Virtuelles deutsches Urkundennetzwerk” (Virtual German Charter Network). The project as a whole is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It is run in cooperation with the directorate-general of the Bavarian state archives, the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg and the Landesarchivverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz as well as the department Historisch-kulturwissenschaftliche Informationsverarbeitung (HKI) of the University of Cologne, the Institut für Geschichtliche Landeskunde (IGL) at Mainz, the chair of Historische Grundwissenschaften und Historische Medienkunde at the LMU Munich. Its aim is to establish a virtual research environment for an extensive and ubiquitous group of medieval sources, i.e. charters in order to facilitate the study of this material through the use of modern information technology.

The initial stage of the project will be the creation of methods to allow the digitisation of all German deeds and charters in a continuous, long-term and cooperative process. The second stage will be the creation of tools to create a working environment within information technology. The final stage will be the integration of carefully prepared pilot projects to test the usability of this working environment in academic research and teaching.

One of the pilot projects is the “Communication Network of Monasteries in the High and Late Middle Ages”, which was begun at the FOVOG in September 2009 and completed in August 2012. It dealt with the large number of monastic documents from this period. These deeds and charters constitute an important group of sources for the exploration of medieval history because they are very close to actual events, documenting a wide variety of legal transactions, functioning as proof, creating and preserving a normativity and reporting events of which they themselves formed part. In the project monastic documents from the diocese of Passau from about 1050 to 1300 were initially digitised, assessed and analysed in the environment of the “Virtual German Charter Network”. A comparison between the situation in different monasteries was based on criteria relating to contents and stucture. The analysis of papal or royal interests or the relationship between religious houses and the aristocracy allowed the identification of specific monastic landscapes. The core of the work consisted of the digitisation and listing of the sources on the website, which aims to make this kind of source available for research and teaching by providing images as well as meta data. The overall aim of the project is to prepare a comparative structural history of monasteries in the high and late middle ages ‘from below’ in order to place each monastery in its context and to reveal how the world interacted with the religious institution. Finally, the project will help to explore to what extent the material can be analysed and used in further research.


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gert Melville:
    Tel: +49 (0) 351 4793 4181
    Email: gert.melville(at)

M.A. Michael Hänchen:
    Tel: +49 (0) 351 4793 4184
    Email: michael.haenchen(at)

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gert Melville

Academic Manager and Research Coordinator:
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Cristina Andenna

Technische Universität
D - 01062 Dresden
Email: fovog-dresden(at)

Tel: +49 (0) 351 4793 4180
Fax: +49 (0) 351 4793 4189

The FOVOG is a centrally incorporated institute of the Technical University of Dresden
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