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

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.


13 June 2017

Call for papers

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: Simon MacLean, University of St. Andrews

“What Was Post-Carolingian about Post-Carolingian Europe?”

It is well known that the Frankish emperor Charlemagne (768-814) and his dynasty – the Carolingians – played an important role in the formation of Europe. Yet scholars still debate the long-term consequences of the collapse of the Carolingian empire in 888 and the diverse ways in which Charlemagne’s family shaped subsequent medieval civilization. This conference invites medievalists of all disciplines and specializations to investigate the legacies, leftovers, and legends of the Carolingian empire in the central and later Middle Ages. We welcome papers that consider a wide array of Carolingian legacies in the realms of kingship and political culture, literature and art, manuscripts and material artifacts, the Church and monasticism, as well as Europe’s relations with the wider world. We urge participants to reflect on the ways in which later medieval rulers, writers, artists, and communities remembered Charlemagne and the Frankish empire and adapted Carolingian inheritances to fit new circumstances. In short, this conference will explore the ways in which Charlemagne’s ghost haunted the medieval world.

Please send an abstract of 250 words and a CV to Eric Goldberg ( via email attachment. On your abstract provide your name, institution, the title of your proposal, and email address. Abstracts are due July 1, 2017.


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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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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