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Governance through serial courses of procedures. A historical analysis of the organisational practice in medieval orders.

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

The project’s aim is to answer the question of how the organisational mechanisms of medieval religious orders functioned. Orders required continuous acts of governance to ensure that the use of their spiritual and material resources was maximised and to prevent or respond to disturbances, deviances or other shortcomings. As a part of this task the order’s central institutions (general chapters, visitations), were permanently obliged to make decisions in individual cases, these decisions being based on the parameters of the respective norms, documenting and archiving the resulting material.

In this project these serial texts will be subjected to a systematic analysis for the first time on the basis of Cluniac, Cistercian, and Dominican materials (12th – 13th c). For the analysis of the sources methods of microhistory will be applied. Since procedural processes targeted at the reduction of complexities were formalised, there will be an extensive and varied range of routine events which can be structured by cataloguing their constitutive elements. The integration of individual cases into an analytical pattern will allow an assessment of the efficiency of control mechanisms. The systematic study of the complexities in the numerous cases beyond the routine activities will indicate the potential and limits of procedures. This will be followed by a typological survey of the spectrum of control mechanisms and the procedures to coordinate them – including the approaches of Governance-Research. The ultimate aim will be to reconstruct the orders’ applied mechanisms of government and control which – because of their rational design and their sophisticated procedures – were far ahead of their times.


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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