The project

The Transformation of the Carolingian World

Plurality and Its Limits in Europe, 9th to 12th Century


The decades after the formation of the Carolingian empire around 800 and its territorial expansion to encompass most of Western Europe are correctly seen as a formative period for the emergence of a distinct European culture of Western Christendom. However, research in the last three decades has fundamentally changed the ways in which we perceive the Carolingian achievement. It is no longer a story of the restoration of imperial rule and Christian unity after the Dark Ages between the end of the Roman Empire and its renovation under Charlemagne. Instead, the Rise of the Carolingians is now seen as part of a longer history of cultural and social experimentation, of emulation and innovation, after the end of the Western Roman Empire, in which Carolingian politicians, rulers, bishops, theologians, intellectuals and lawyers built on the diverse social and political experiments of post-Roman societies and polities. The Carolingian reforms did not replace post-Roman multiplicity but integrated the inherited diversity in a new imperial framework.

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News and events

News and Events


11 April 2019

Blog posts by TCW members

Several members of the TCW Network have written blog posts on their studies of tenth- and ninth-century history. Have a look at the Research Blog website of the After Empire project and the blog series of the Institute for Medieval History of the Austrian Academy of Sciences to read them!

1 April 2019

Upcoming conference: After Empire in Vienna

The After Empire closing conference titled ‘Uses of the past in times of transition: Forgetting, using and discrediting the past’ will take place from the 29th of May to the 1st of June. 


30th of May

10.00-10.15    Welcome

Walter POHL


10.15-10.45     Introduction



11.00-12.30     Iberian pasts

Matthias M. TISCHLER (ICREA/UAB, Barcelona), Using the Carolingian Past in a Society of Transformation. The Case of Early Medieval Catalonia in the Long Tenth Century (900–1050)

Eduardo MANZANO MORENO (Instituto de Historia-CSIC), How and when the Islamic-Christian Frontier in Iberia began to crack


12.30-13.30     Lunch break


13.30-16.30    Imperial and post-imperial governance

Stefan ESDERS (Freie Universität Berlin), The church as a governance actor in a period of post-imperial transition: Legal plurality and legal change in 10th-century Raetia

Cecilia PALOMBO (Princeton University), Decentered archives in the Abbasid Middle East: modern narratives of imperial governance and the impossible transaction costs of monastic libraries


Eric GOLDBERG (MIT), The Last Capitularia: Carloman II, the Vikings, and the Capitularies of Compiègne (883) and Ver (884)


16.30-17.00    Coffee break


17.00-18.30    Changing modes of writing

Richard CORRADINI (OEAW), Hucusque Romanorum principum gesta et pontificum Romane aecclesie enarravimus. Writing history as a process of transformation

Giacomo VIGNODELLI (Bologna), Reinventing Satire in times of change. “Literary experimentalism” and power shifts in post-Carolingian Europe


31st of May

10.00-12.00    Diocesan pasts

Jelle WASSENAAR (OEAW), Dioceses and identity politics in tenth-century Europe

Paul GAZZOLI (OEAW), Using the past in charters for the Danish bishoprics in the 10th century

Claudia RAPP (OEAW), Response


12.00-13.00    Lunch break


13.00-15.00    Remembering rulers

Simon MACLEAN (St Andrews), Families, dynasties or kingdoms? The Carolingians and the Ottonians in the mid tenth century

Tim GREENWOOD (St Andrews), Negotiating the Roman past in later tenth-century Armenia

Sarah GREER (St Andrews), Hic deficit regnum Karoli magni: remembering dynasties in eleventh-century Sens


15.00-15.30    Coffee break


15.30-17.00    Ecclesiastical pasts

Sarah HAMILTON (Exeter), Understanding the Church’s Past: Usuard’s Martyrology in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century England

Emma LOOSLEY (Exeter), Creating an ‘Orthodox’ past: Georgian Hagiography and the construction of a denominational identity


1st of June

09.00-10.30    Liturgical pasts

Ekaterina NOVOKHATKO (ICREA/UAB, Barcelona), Back to the Carolingian discussion on images: Beirut legend and veneration of the crucifix in Catalonia (10-12 cc.)

Lenneke VAN RAAIJ (Exeter), Celebrating a local bishop-saint in 10th c. Trier. What liturgy tells us about local pasts


10.30-10.45    Coffee break


10.45-12.15    Politics and historical writing

Alice HICKLIN (Freie Universität Berlin), Aitire, 人質, тали, όμηρος, رهن, obses: Many terms, one custom? Hostages, political instability, and the writing of history c. 900–1050 CE

Clemens GANTNER (OEAW), Qualis quantusve vir iste fuerit! On the image of Emperor Louis II in Italian historiography (late ninth and tenth centuries)


TCW sessions at IMC Leeds 2019

In collaboration with the After Empire Project, the TCW network organises several sessions for the 2019 International Medieval Congress:

Session 512, Tuesday 02 July, 09.00-10.30
Using and Not Using the Past in the Transformation of the Carolingian World, I: Negotiating Carolingian Identities, c. 800-900
Chair: Charles West
Eric J. Goldberg – Hincmar of Reims, Carloman II, and the De ordine palatii
Cinzia Grifoni – Glosses Reconsidered: On the Purposes of Biblical Commentaries from Late Carolingian Wissembourg
Carey Fleiner – Humour in the Work of Ermoldus Nigellus: A 9th-Century Carolingian Poet
Maximilian Diesenberger – Straining after Effect: Regino of Prüm, the Death of Charles the Fat, and the Hungarians 

Session 612, Tuesday 02 July, 11.15-12.45
Using and Not Using the Past in the Transformation of the Carolingian World, II: Negotiating Culture between Centre and Periphery
Chair: Maximilian Diesenberger
Edoardo Manarini – Carolingian Culture and Politics in the Kingdom of Italy through Nonantola’s Acta Sanctorum
Francesco Veronese – A Peripheral Lagoon: Venice in the Post-Carolingian World, Late 9th-10th Centuries
Matthias Martin Tischler – Carolingian Culture between Centres and Peripheries: The Case of Early Medieval Catalonia

Session 712, Tuesday 02 July, 14.15-15.45
Using and Not Using the Past in the Transformation of the Carolingian World, III: Negotiating Communities
Chair: Levi Roach
Jelle Wassenaar – Bishops, Letters, and Belonging in the 10th Century
Chris Halsted – Saxon Rebel, Slavic March: Wichmann the Younger and the Limits of Ottonian Power in the 10th-Century Baltic
Cullen Chandler – Spanish March and Carolingian Monarchy in the 10th Century

Session 812, Tuesday 02 July, 16.30-18.00
Using and Not Using the Past in the Transformation of the Carolingian World, IV: Negotiating Memory
Chair: Eric J. Goldberg
Lenneke Van Raaij – Liturgy as Carrier of the Local Past in the Long 10th Century
Charles West – ‘The Tale of One-Ox’ and the Appropriation of the Mythical Past in 11th-Century Francia
Clemens Gantner – ‘Ever since, battles, slander and plunder have pervaded the realm’: Louis II of Italy’s Death and Afterlife




9 October 208

Upcoming conference: Oliba de Vic, Un bisbe de mil anys enrere

Thousand years ago, Oliba de Cerdanya (971-1046), abbot of Ripoll and Cuixà was ordained bishop of Osona (Vic). The important reform activities, carried out from his prominent position, have been interpreted since the so-called Catalan Renaissance (of the 19th century) essentially as an initial impetus on the history of Catalonia. Today, the perception of the figure and the  performance of Oliba has also to take into consideration his vital historical context and has to compare him with other prelates of his time within the framework of Western Europe. The  International Congress “Oliba of Vic. A Bishop One Thousand Years Ago” aims to provide this perspective offered by internationally renowned scholars, coinciding with the exhibition Oliba  episcopus organised by the Museu Episcopal de Vic (27 october 2018 – 10 february 2019).

Link to the programme

23 March 2018

Upcoming conference: Private Charters and Documentary Practice in the Long 10th Century

On the occasion of the publication of the twelfth and final volume of the edition of the ninth century St.-Gall charters, the Institut für Mittelalterforschung of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, the Stiftsarchiv St. Gallen  and the University of Groningen are organizing a conference on the changes of documentary practice in the long tenth century in Europe. This conference is a follow-up to an earlier one (Die Privaturkunden der Karolingerzeit) on the continuation and spread of the Roman heritage of documentary-legal administration, taking into account, among other things, the standardizing tendencies of the Carolingian empire. This time we will be dealing with what happened when the different parts of the Carolingian empire started to diverge after 870. The genre of documentation (private charters as opposed to royal charters) is chosen, since these documents were produced at slightly lower, regional levels of society as well. It permits us to observe how people who did not belong to the highest levels of society went about their legal affairs.

Link to the programme 


19 March 2018

The Transformation of the Carolingian world at IMC Leeds 2018

The TCW-network sponsors two sessions at the upcoming IMC in Leeds. Both have been organised by Richard Corradini of the Institut für Mittelalterforschung at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.


The Transformation of the Carolingian World, I


Moderator: Stefan Esders, Geschichte der Spätantike und des frühen Mittelalters, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin


Prelates in Royal Service under the Ottonian Kings of Germany

David Bachrach, Department of History, University of New Hampshire


Money on the move: Changing Patterns of Coin Circulation and the ‘Transformation of the Carolingian Empire’

Elina Screen, Trinity College, University of Oxford


From gens to Territory? Territorial Foundations of Power in the East Frankish Kingdom

Hans-Werner Goetz, Fakultät für Geisteswissenschaften, Historisches Seminar, Universität Hamburg


The Transformation of the Carolingian World, II


Moderator: Stuart Airlie, School of Humanities (History), University of Glasgow


Historiography, Time Tables, Poetics – Some Observations on the Diversification of Knowledge

Richard Corradini, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien


Commemorating – or Not – Queens and Common Women in the Verses of the Carolingian Poet Ermoldus Nigellus (fl.826)

Carey Fleiner, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Winchester


Abbo of Saint-Germain-des-Prés’s Poetics of Martyrdom

Matthew B. Gillis, Department of History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville



7 October 2017

Conference: Charlemagne’s Ghost

Legacies, Leftovers, and Legends of the Carolingian Empire

44th Annual New England Medieval Conference
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Saturday, October 7, 2017


Keynote Speaker
Chair: Eric Goldberg (M.I.T.)

  • Simon MacLean (University of St. Andrews), “What Was Post-Carolingian about Post-Carolingian Europe?”


Session I: People on the Move in the Late Carolingian World
Chair: Helmut Reimitz (Princeton University)

  • Shane Bobrycki (Harvard University), “A Mid-Ninth Century Peasant Massacre: The Rise of ‘Feudalism’ or Charlemagne’s Ghost?”
  • N. Kıvılcım Yavuz (University of Copenhagen), “The Story of the Trojan Origins of the Franks: A Carolingian Legacy?”
  • Craig R. Davis (Smith College), “Frankish Goths at the Court of King Alfred” 


Session II: Carolingian Legacies in the German Empire
Chair: Eric Weiskott (Boston College)

  • David Bachrach (University of New Hampshire), “The Comital Office in East Francia”
  • Jennifer R. Davis (The Catholic University of America), “The Legacy of Law: The Frankish Capitularies in Cava dei Tirreni, Manuscript 4”
  • Judson J. Emerick (Pomona College, emeritus), “Staging Imperial Burial in the Cathedral of Speyer: King Henry IV and Carolingian/Ottonian Architectural Tradition”


Session III: Carolingian Echoes and Murmurs in Royal Charters
Chair: Sean Gilsdorf (Harvard University)

  • Susanne Zwierlein (Harvard University), “Long, Lucid, and Looming Shadows: Charlemagne’s Inheritance in Post-Carolingian Charters”
  • Alice Hicklin (Freie Universität Berlin), “In the Name of the King: Confirmation Charters and Royal Appellations in Ottonian Diplomata”
  • Yanick Strauch (Philipps-Universität Marburg), “Carolus gratia dei rex et imperator: The Evocation of Charlemagne’s Posthumous Imperial Authority in Falsified Royal Charters of Ninth- to Twelfth-Century Languedoc and Catalonia”


Session IV: Remembering and Forgetting the Carolingians
Chair: Mary Dockray-Miller (Lesley University)

  • Dallas Alexander Grubbs (The Catholic University of America), “Recycling the Merovingian and Carolingian Past in the Vita Dagoberti Regis”
  • Anne Latowsky (University of South Florida, Tampa), “It’s All My Fault: Charlemagne’s Tears of Guilt and the Problem of Spain”
  • Hagar Barak (Independent Scholar), “’Hunting According to the Custom of the Kings of the Franks’? The Royal Hunt in Primat’s Chronicles of Saint Denis”
  • Courtney M. Booker (University of British Columbia), “Machiavellitico praecepto: Learning from the Carolingians in Late Sixteenth-Century France”


12 September 2017

New project cluster in the TCW network: The Transformation of History in the Late and Post-Carolingian World

In this project or project cluster we would like to explore the changes in regard to the writing of history, the forms historical works took and historical thinking from the 9th to the 13th century. In several independent, but connected projects we would like to study the composition and transmission of historical works in different regions and cultural centers of the (former) Carolingian empire. The comparison of these different case studies should help us to get a better sense of the changes in regard to the writing of history and to historical culture from the early to the high Middle Ages. 

In so doing each of the different case studies should provide us with a panorama of possibilities, its arrangement and rearrangements in a certain cultural center or context. From early on, most of the historical texts that were written in the early Middle Ages have not been copied as single and independent texts and narratives but thought of and put into context with other historical works but equally with other genres. The teams working on different cultural centers will try to establish an overview over the “historical library” in different places and how the available historical resources were further used copied, rewritten and complemented by new texts over several centuries. The specific conditions and histories in the different places will of course lead to the development of questions and approaches designed for the specific case. Taken together, however, they will allow us to put each case study in a wider context and a wider panorama of possibilities.

The planning of the first sub-projects is already under way. Richard Corradini will be starting a project on the cultural centers in Alemannia and Alsace such as St. Gall, Reichenau, Murbach and Einsiedeln. He will be posting his ideas for the project and a possible research design (that will of course be further developed) next week. Another team of scholars (Peggy Brown, Patrick Geary, Rolf Große, Rosamond McKitterick, Helmut Reimitz, and Matthias Tischler) has already started to discuss the history of historiography in the Seine-Loire region from the 9th to the 13th century with centers such as St. Germain-des-Prés, St. Denis and St. Benoit-sur-Loire. Helmut Reimitz will be posting the plans of this group soon as well. A further project group on 9th to 13th-century Southwestern France (Aquitania), Southern France (Septimania) and Northeastern Spain (Spanish March) with centers such as St. Martial of Limoges, St. Cybard d’Angoulême, Moissac, St. Gilles, Aniane, Ripoll, etc. will be established by Matthias M. Tischler in Barcelona, Patrick Geary and Helmut Reimitz are developing a project on Fleury. We do hope that these projects will inspire many more corresponding case studies, which will be posted as they come along.

In the course of the next two years Steffen Patzold from the University of Tübingen and Richard Corradini from Austrian Academy of Sciences will be working on an application for a large project for the establishment of a comprehensive data-base of all manuscripts with early medieval histories until the 13th century, a “Bibliotheca scriptorum historiographorum medii aevi”. The idea is to apply for a long-term funding of a project in which several researchers will be working on a bibliotheca which will provide us with a comprehensive panorama of all the histories that were written and rewritten in the early and high Middle Ages.  

To prepare and support the future application for the Bibliotheca-project we will begin to collect data in the different sub-projects of the Transformation of historiography project now. We will ask and invite participants of the project (and all other members of the network) to put into a database a basic descriptions of manuscripts they are working on or they find interesting. A simple mask for the task will be provided on the TCW-webpage.

All data will be georeferenced and an (online) GIS will be created. This geographical information system will use interactive methods to visualize the centres of manuscript productions, the different manuscript traditions and their interconnectedness. Also the spatial evolution of these entities over time can be traced by this application. Otherwise hardly noticeable connections and developments can thereby be more easily detected. A user-friendly screen- and interaction design will make the application an easy-to-use tool for research and a way to disseminate research findings to the public.

8 December 2016

TCW at Leeds IMC 2017

The Transformation of the Carolingian World-Network will sponsor four sessions at the upcoming Leeds International Medieval Congress (3-6 July 2017). See the IMC Leeds website for paper titles and participants: 

TCW Session I

TCW Session II

TCW Session III

TCW Session IV


7 December 2016

Upcoming conference: using and not using the past

From 17-19 May the kick-off conference for the TCW-associated HERA-project ‘After Empire: Using and not using the past in the Carolingian world’ will be held in Berlin. It is titled ‘Using and not using the past in 10th century Europe, and will be organised by Stefan Esders.

Upcoming conference: legitimacy, lordship, and government

From 12-14 October the University of New Hampshire will host the TCW-associated conference ‘Legitimacy, lordship, and government in the Post-Carolingian World’, organised by David Bachrach.


14 November 2016

Related project: ‘After Empire’

The related project ‘After Empire: Using and not using the past in the crisis of the Carolingian world, c. 900-c. 1050’ has started in September 2016. The project is funded through HERA, and is run as a joint effort by the Freie Universität Berlin, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Exeter, the University of St. Andrews, and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. For further information see the project’s page at the HERA-website.





network: Advisory Board

Stuart Airlie

School of Humanities, University of Glasgow
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Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak

Department of History
New York University (NYU)
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Geneviève Bührer-Thierry

Laboratoire de Médiévistique Occidentale de Paris LAMOP
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
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Jennifer Davis

Faculty of History
Catholic University of America
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Philippe Depreux

Universität Hamburg
Fakultät für Geisteswissenschaften

Max Diesenberger

Institut für Mittelalterforschung
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien
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Stefan Esders

Freie Universität Berlin
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Patrick Geary

School of Historical Studies
Institute for Advanced Study Princeton
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Eric J. Goldberg

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge-Mass.
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Maria Cristina La Rocca

Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche Geografiche e dell’Antichità (DISSGeA)
Università degli Studi di Padova
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Conrad Leyser

Faculty of History
Worcester College, University of Oxford
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Steffen Patzold

Philosophische Fakultät, Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft, Seminar für mittelalterliche Geschichte
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
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Walter Pohl

Institut für Mittelalterforschung
Österreichische Akademie des Wissenschaften Wien
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Helmut Reimitz 

Department of History
Princeton University
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Bernd Schneidmüller 

Historisches Seminar
Universität Heidelberg
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network: Members

William Jordan, Princeton University
Anna Boreczky, Research scholar, Budapest national library
Tina Bawden, FU Berlin
Beatrice Radden Keefe, Universität Zurich
Eric Ramírez-Weaver, University of Virginia
Éric Palazzo, Université de Poitiers
Sabine Utz, University of Geneva)
Charlotte Denoël, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Joshua O’Driscoll, The Morgan Library & Museum
Lynley Herbert, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
Francesca Demarchi, Independent Scholar, Turin
Kristin Böse, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf
Erika Loic, Harvard University
Megan McNamee, University of Michigan
Loretta Vandi, Scuola del Libro, Urbino
Karen Gross, Lewis & Clark College, Portland)
Susannah Fisher, Washington University in St. Louis
Genevieve Bührer-Thierry, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Steffen Patzold, Universität Tübingen
Helmut Reimitz, Princeton University
Maximilian Diesenberger, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Stefan Esders, FU Berlin
Richard Corradini, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Matthew Gillis, University of Tennessee
Eric Goldberg, MIT, Princeton
Kathrin Henschel, Freie Universität Berlin
Nikolas Jaspert, Universität Heidelberg
Peter Stih, University of Ljubljana
Valerie Garver, Northern Illinois University
Stefano Gasparri, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Sara Poor, Princeton University
Courtney Booker, University of British Columbia
John Magee, University of Toronto
Hagar Barak
Stuart Airlie, University of Glasgow
Shane Bobricky, Harvard University
Jan van Doren, Princeton University
Sarah Greer, University of St. Andrews
Adam Izdebski, Jagiellonian University
Scott Bruce, University of Colorado Boulder
Hans Hummer, Wayne State University
Ekaterina Novokhato, Autonomous University of Barcelona
Alice Rio, King’s College London
John Haldon, Princeton University
Ian Ward, Princeton University
Cecilia Gaposchkin, Dartmouth College
Beatrice Kitzinger, Princeton
Sara McDougall, City University of New York
Herwig Wolfram, Universität Wien
Anton Scharer, Universität Wien
Geoffrey Koziol, University of California Berkeley
Meg Leja, Binghamton University
Lenneke van Raaij, Exeter University
Bernard Bachrach, University of Minnesota
Jennifer Davis, Catholic University of America
Charles Barber, Princeton University
Matthias Tischler, Autonomous University of Barcelona
David Bachrach, University of New Hampshire
Irene van Renswoude, Huygens KNAW
Tom Noble, University of Notre Dame
Paul Kershaw, University of Virginia
Ann Lester, University of Colorado Boulder
Jason Glenn, USC Dornsife
Paul Dutton, Simon Fraser University
Emmanuel Bourbouhakis, Princeton University
Merle Eisenberg, Princeton University
Deborah Delyannis, Indiana University Bloomington
Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
Will North, Carleton College
Abigail Firey, University of Kentucky
Warren Brown, Caltech
Maya Maskarinec, USC Dornsife
Karl Ubl, Universität zu Köln
Simon MacLean, University of St Andrews
Patrick Geary, Institute for Advanced Study Princeton
Albrecht Diem, Syracuse University
Molly Lester, Princeton University
Andrew Romig, New York University
Wendy Davies, University College London
Celia Chazelle, College of New Jersey
Rory Naismith, King’s College London
Clemens Gantner, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Francesco Borri, , Austrian Academy of Sciences
Charles West, University of Sheffield
Janet L. Nelson, King’s College London
Alice Hicklin, Freie Universität Berlin
Bernd Schneidmüller, Universität Heidelberg
Rosamond McKitterick, University of Cambridge
François Bougard, Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes
Jamie Kreiner, University of Georgia
Maria Cristina La Rocca, University of Padova
Maureen Miller, University of California Berkeley
Adam Kosto, University of Columbia
Paolo Squatriti, University of Michigan
Sarah Hamilton, University of Exeter
Conrad Leyser, University of Oxford
Barbara Rosenwein, Chicago University
Philippe Depreux, Universität Hamburg
Bernhard Zeller, , Austrian Academy of Sciences
Anne Latowsky, University of South Florida
Graeme Ward, Oxford University
Brigitte Bedos-Rezak, New York University
Rob Meens, Utrecht University
Elizabeth A.R. Brown, City University of New York
Glenn McDorman, Princeton University
Tim Newfield, Princeton University
Jasmin Damerius, Freie Universität Berlin
Matthieu van der Meer, Syracuse University
Teresa Shawcross, Princeton University
Marek Jankowiak, University of Oxford
Lawrence Nees, University of Delaware
Andrew Sorber, University of Virginia
David Kalhous, , Austrian Academy of Sciences
Patrick Marschner, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Sylvie Joye, Université de Reims
Daniela Mairhofer, Princeton University
Walter Pohl, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Kelly Gibson, University of Dallas
Bart van Hees, Independent scholar
Richard Pollard, Université de Québec à Montréal
Thomas Kohl, Universität Tübingen
Andreas Fischer, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Edward Roberts, University of Liverpool
Racha Kirakosian, Harvard University



Max Diesenberger

Institut für Mittelalterforschung
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien
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Richard Corradini

Institut für Mittelalterforschung
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Wien
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