Germania Sacra

Volume 44 of the 9th series
Volume 12 of the 3rd series

Germania Sacra (Latin for "Holy Germania" or "Holy Germany") is a long-term research project into German church history from its beginnings through the Reformation in the 16th century to the period of secularisation in the early 19th century.

History and Structure

Following in the footsteps of earlier researchers, of whom Martin Gerbert is considered the first and most important - Paul Fridolin Kehr, of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of German History, attempted in 1917 to establish the Germania Sacra as the unifying national history project linking all German church history projects. This tradition was embraced after 1945 by Hermann Heimpel of the Max Planck Institute for History in Göttingen. To him was assigned a responsible scientific director who coordinated the work of external experts. Since 2008, the project has been located at the Göttingen Academy of Sciences because the Max Planck Institute of History was rededicated. Currently about 50 employees - mostly archivists - work part-time, but sometimes devoting considerable effort to the individual projects. This close cooperation between the archives and institutionalized research is unique in Germany.

The project is currently (as at: February 2016) headed by Hedwig Röckelein.

Aims and methods

The aim of the Germania Sacra is to deliver a historical and statistical description of the church institutions of the Holy Roman Empire. To that end it aims to capture and display all sources and literature of ecclesial institutions from the bishoprics (with a focus on the episcopal series or Bischofsreihen) to the cathedral chapters and monasteries for the medieval and early modern periods until their demise in Reformation or under secularisation.

The aim of the project is the establish the fundamental information on which further research may be based. The publications are divided into an old and new series; in 2008 a "third series" was begun that concentrates on describing the bishoprics and cathedral chapters on the territory of modern-day Germany. In addition there are the "Studies of the Germania Sacra" and recently published "Supplementary volumes of the Germania Sacra".

The project website makes the biographical database available; this enables searching through biographical lists in the published volumes: Digitales Personenregister der Germania Sacra.

In addition the project has a database of monasteries and foundations (Stiften) of the Old Empire: Monasteries and Foundations of the Altes Reich.


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