Archiv für den Monat: Dezember 2017

Jour fixe | 17.1.2018 | Lenka Veselá: The Library of Hieronymus Beck von Leopoldsdorf in the Context of 16th Century Central European Aristocratic Libraries

Vortragende: Lenka Veselá (Prag)

Titel: The Library of Hieronymus Beck von Leopoldsdorf in the Context of 16th Century Central European Aristocratic Libraries

Ort: 1010 Wien, Hauptgebäude der Universität Wien, Universitätsring 1, Hörsaal 45 (2. Stock, gegenüber dem Institut für Geschichte)

Zeit: Mittwoch, 17.1.2017, 18:30 Uhr s.t.

Moderation: Karl Vocelka


The Beck von Leopoldsdorf library from the end of the 16th century was unique in many aspects. This Lower Austrian book collection contained between 2.000 to 2.500 volumes and was carried off to Sweden as a part of the war booty from Bohemia and Moravia towards the end of the Thirty Years’ War.  The detailed reconstruction of this book collection from Ebreichsdorf castle showed that it belonged amongst the little known progressive aristocratic libraries of an intellectual archetype, whose owners were not bound either by a family tradition or an intention to create collectors’ libraries of a universal nature. This library reflected some elements of Hieronymus Beck’s life and his world outlook, difficult to ascertain otherwise and uncaptured from other primary sources. His book collection is a unique proof of interaction between the Viennese learned and aristocratic environments of the second half of the 16th century.
The lecture will build on Beck library acquisitions and owner’s reader preferences, deciphering intellectual horizons of its creator that were until now unknown and classifying the Beck book collection within the context of other contemporary aristocratic libraries in the Czech and Austrian Lands in the second half of the 16th century.

Zur Person:
Dr. Lenka Veselá is a researcher at the Library of the Academy of Sciences in Prague. She deals with the history of libraries and book culture in the early modern period and especially with the Swedish War booty books from Bohemia and Moravia acquired during the Thirty Years’ War.

Frühneuzeit-Info 2017 | Themenschwerpunkt Neue Wege der Frühneuzeitgeschichte | Abstracts

Vor kurzem ist die diesjährige Ausgabe der Frühneuzeit-Info erschienen, ein Inhaltsverzeichnis ist auf unserer Homepage zu finden. An dieser Stelle folgen die Abstracts des Hefts.







Tracking early modernity – heterogeneous views of the founding and identity of a discipline

(in German language)

Using three dozen in depth interviews with senior historians in Germany, Britain and the United States this article depicts the multifarious ways in which historians understand the founding and development of the field of early modern history. Despite some chronological differences this process unfolded in rather similar terms in all three countries. Still, perceptions of this process vary widely as the interviews show. Amongst the most crucial disparities rates the understanding of early modern as simply a tool of periodization against its perception as a means of methodological innovation. While the former is commonplace among German historians, many American and British historians see early modern as a label for specific methods, mostly borrowed from the Annales School. In addition, comparing the interviews shows that the perception of the semantic problem of the early modern – its inevitable affiliation to modernity – is much more prevalent in the English speaking world. Lastly, while Germans take the existence of a discipline of early modern history for granted most Anglophone historians dispute this claim. Even so, the paper argues, the label early modern does generate an integration that in effect leads to a disciplinary culture even if unacknowledged by senior members of the field.



Der Planet atmet. Überlegungen zu einer Globalgeschichte der Frühen Neuzeit

(in German language)

Wolfgang Behringer’s essay “The Planet is Breathing. Reflections on a Global History of the Early Modern Period” is divided into three parts: Part 1 analyses the position of the early modern period in recent multivolume world histories, compares various attempts at periodizing early modernity and eventually argues for a “long early modern period” in global history. Part 2 emphasises the importance of climatological “teleconnections” in history: Simultaneous drought or cooling, famine and rebellion in India, China, Africa, and Europe can sometimes be explained by the global impact of ultra-Plinian volcanic explosions or El-Nino-Southern-Oscillation-events (EN-SO-events). Endogenic explanations should accommodate or exclude a possible exogenic causation. What will we make of recent attempts to politicise early modern history in the light of the Anthropocene theory? Part 3 asks whether in our moralizing academic universe the very subject of early modern history will be under the suspicion of being politically incorrect. Whereas in an ideal world all civilizations are equal, in the early modern period we have to explain major shifts in their importance. Starting from the observation that today all the major civilizations of 1500 have returned to importance, Behringer offers a package of 21 factors for the rise of Europe, and reconsiders the reasons not just for the dramatic fall, but also for the obvious resilience of traditional civilizations, and their ability to cope with the “great divergence”. The author concludes that the exploration of the multiple early modernities deserves increasing effort.



Historical Climate Research: Origins, Trends and Future Perspectives of an Interdisciplinary Field of Research

(in German language)

This article discusses recent trends and future challenges of historical climate research (also, though somewhat less precisely, known as “climate history” or “historical climatology). We focus on its two main branches: climate reconstruction from documentary evidence, and the study of human-climate interaction in history. It is important to look back into the origins of historical climate research to understand that its development depended on the idea that climate changed in historical periods, i.e. after the end of the last ice age and the onset of the interglacial period of the Holocene, which went through a number of highs and lows. Already born in the 18th century, when climate became historicised, it lost ground when the Pleistocene ice age(s) were discovered and recognised during the 19th century. Only in the 20th century, new methods and approaches in paleoclimatology inspired the return of the “climates of history” on the agenda of modern climatology. The most significant incentives for renewal came from glaciology (the study of glaciers). Now, historians, geographers and climatologists reconsidered the value of documentary evidence. However, historians were particularly reluctant to develop historical climate research beyond the narrow field of climate reconstruction. The spectre of climate determinism delayed reconsideration of the complex relationship between climate and history well into the 1970s. The 1990s brought new developments, as now climate impact research started focusing more on extremes and natural hazards. That, however, revealed a mismatch between the two branches of climate reconstruction and climate impact research, because efforts in reconstruction had initially focused on long-term climatic fluctuations, mostly with regard to temperature, precipitation and air pressure, while extremes and natural hazards had not been systematically researched. Today, historical climate research is a rapidly expanding field of study. While it used to have a strong spatial focus on Europe and China and a temporal focus on the early modern period, to which it became systematically linked through the debate on the “General Crisis” of the 17th Century, it is now globalising and expanding back into the Middle Ages.



Die Vielfalt des Räumlichen. Stand und Perspektiven der frühneuzeitlichen Raumforschung

(in German language)

Focussing on the early modern period, this article reflects on the development and progress in the field of spatial history. What has been labelled the spatial turn in the social sciences about 25 years ago has also been taken up by historians, although there has never been a uniform understanding of the term or, indeed, a unified methodology behind the approach. The present article thus tackles the latter by proposing a range of questions intended to systematize the analysis of the spatial dimensions of (past) societies. In particular, these target (i) spatial configurations, (ii) spatial dynamics, (iii) subjective constructions of spaces (perceptions, representations), as well as (iv) spatial practices/usages. While it is clear that, in reality, several spatial levels are often overlapping, subdivisions into micro-, meso- and macro-spaces are made for the sake of analytical clarity. The article closes with a discussion of selected historical studies with a spatial focus, applying the methodology previously introduced.



Die Wiederkehr der Wirtschaft? Neuere Trends und Perspektiven der deutschsprachigen Frühneuzeitforschung

(in German language)

Apparently, economy has made its comeback in early modern studies. While the major turns inspired by cultural studies have foregrounded other perspectives, economic issues seem to experience virtually a renaissance these days. This renaissance, however, follows its very own, specific path and might not always serve well to bridge the gap between economic and cultural history. At worst, it might even amplify it at times. By surveying a wide range of publications from the past ten years, the paper points first at important new perspectives, assessments, and findings in recent historiography from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, hence the indubitable progress that can be expected – and was actually reached – by the last decade’s inching towards each other of economic and cultural history. Second, however, it will also show that proponents of cultural history have often too unilaterally demanded the opening of economic history towards cultural perspectives, while only seldomly have shown the same openness towards the methodologies and research questions of economic historians. Consequently, the paper closes with an appeal for more bilateral cooperation.



Sexualitäten in der Frühen Neuzeit. Die Unsichtbarkeit der Vielfalt

(in German language)

Enlightenment and scientification were carried out essentially by means of linguistic differentiation and clarification. With respect to sexually based identities, this process has only intensified in recent decades. It is difficult to trace correspondences for this multitude of today’s sexually based identities in the past, because the people of the past have lacked the conceptuality.
Sexual orientations and identities are key scientific categories that are always to be examined in relation to categories such as class, ethnicity, religion and age. The biblical tradition of sex laws led in Christianity to a special way of persecuting and threatening the death of men, especially men who had same-sex sexual contacts. However, since a significant part of the population did not have legal access to sex, people who we call today homosexuals do not appear. It was only the withdrawal of heterosexual men from the same sex sexual acts, which were also common to them throughout the pre-modern period, during certain phases of life, which left those men who sexually sought men back and visible, while they were previously invisible in the mass of so-called “sodomites”. This also applies to other forms of deviant sexuality, for example, for the predisposition we now call zoophilia.



Frühneuzeitliche Sportgeschichte 2.0

(in German language)

This article deals with the historiography of early modern sports. As the pioneers of the field defined sports as a specifically modern as well as British phenomenon, research on the 16th to 18th centuries and the European continent lagged behind for a long time. In the last fifteen years the “modern sports paradigm” has been increasingly questioned by new findings and approaches that go beyond the dispute whether the early modern voluntary movement, physical games and exercise can be defined as sports. Focusing on space, economy and knowledge, this chapter shows how the historiography of sports has profited from new methods and concepts that gained importance in general history, as well as vice versa. Thus, the spatial approach does not only allow to view developments in the history of sports in a more differentiated and subtle way, but also to consider sports as a forerunner or preserver of traditions compared to developments in other fields or as an utopian and at the same time contested space of representation. Furthermore, new research shows sports as an important aspect of the early consumer society as well as of leisure and cultural industries well before the 18th century and beyond the British Isles. Finally, analysing early modern treatises on sports, physical exercise and body techniques tells us a lot about the cognitive preconditions and repercussions of representing the body and its movements, both linguistically and graphically.



Established as a Historical Discipline. The Ottoman Empire in Early Modern Historiography of the Past Two Decades

(in German language)

Ottoman history has been integrated into the general discourse on early modern history since the mid-1990ies to a much larger degree than before. The reasons for this development need to be assessed as a combination of glocal dynamics in contemporary academia and discursive rearrangements among Ottomanists. History-writing in an Anglo-Saxon mode has become the model to follow for many scholars. Taking the Cambridge Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire of 1994 as point of departure, the article discusses Karen Barkey’s and Baki Tezcan’s attempts to frame the Ottoman Empire in a new way. While both may be regarded as ultimately failed they have inspired discussion that have foregrounded the 17th and 18th century Ottoman Empire over that of earlier times. The cohesion of Ottoman polity and society appears as source of a fruitful debate; political households and law are given as examples for new perspectives assumed. The conclusion identifies some difficulties studies in early modern Ottoman history are likely to encounter in the future.





„Settling the Goths at the Gates of Rome“? Anglo-American Immigration to Spanish Lousiana, 1783–1803

(in English language)

This article examines Spaniards’ attitudes towards Anglo-American immigration to the Spanish colony of Louisiana from 1783 to 1803. In Spain’s strategic design, Louisiana was to function as a buffer to protect the kingdom of New Spain from foreign encroachment. With a vast territory, extensive frontiers, and few inhabitants, Spanish authorities believed Louisiana’s success as a barrier colony depended on its population increase. This article examines the high-wire act that Louisiana’s colonial government performed as a result of the gradual liberalization of immigration policies. Breaking with restrictive immigration laws, the imperial administration in 1788 allowed Anglo-Americans – including non-Catholics – to settle in the Mississippi Valley. This was a risky path to take. It opened Spanish territories to a group of subjects whose loyalty was far from secure, despite the oath of allegiance each was obliged to take. The question at stake was whether non-Spanish immigrants would help to secure Madrid’s rule in Louisiana – or ally themselves with foreign powers to end it. Instead of seeing the flow of migrants leaving the U.S. for Louisiana as just a problem for the Spanish government, I examine how this movement caused concern for both Louisiana and U.S. officials. My argument places U.S.-American expansion into the Mississippi Valley within the broader context of U.S.-Spanish relations, showing how Anglo-American immigrants were perceived as threat to Spanish possessions throughout North America.



Revolution, War, and Estates. Emperor Francis II’s Visit to the Austrian Netherlands in 1794

(in German language)

In 1794, the young Emperor Francis II visited the Austrian or Southern Netherlands. Although he was only the second ruler in one and a half centuries to do so, his stay in the westernmost part of the Habsburg Monarchy has almost completely passed unnoticed by historians. Francis’ visit took place in turbulent international and internal circumstances. Austria was waging war against France that had conquered the Netherlands a first time in 1792/93 and launched a new offensive in 1794. Internally, agitated public opinion in the wake of the Brabant Revolution alarmed the Brussels government, and the provincial estates only very reluctantly contributed financially to Austria’s war efforts. In the first place this article focuses on the debates about whether or not this imperial visit was appropriate. Secondly, it examines the ways in which the emperor tried to influence public opinion. Lastly, it analyses the circumstances that led to Francis’ speedy journey back home. His return preceded the definitive implosion of the Austrian regime in the Southern Netherlands by some weeks only. Taken together, this article demonstrates that Francis’ visit is revealing for Austria’s diplomatic and military challenges as well as for the factions and opinions influencing – and hampering – decision making concerning the Netherlands. It is also a plea to fully integrate the second Austrian restoration in the Netherlands (1793/94) in analyses of the Brabant Revolution and its aftermath.



Der Löw von Mitternacht, Ist kommen ins Teutschlandt. Die zeitgenössische Flugblatt-Propaganda rund um Gustav Adolf von Schweden in illustrierten Flugblättern (1630–1648/50)

(in German language)

From the moment on the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus (1594–1632) landed with his troops on the northern German island of Usedom on July 6th 1630 the pro-Swedish and Swedish publicists and propagandists started to intensify the publication of illustrated broadsheets. The Swedish king was above all depicted as a militarily strong general, an ancient and Old Testament hero figure, as the Lion of the North and even as a physician. These graphic accounts of Gustavus Adolphus were often combined with the publicistic stylistic device of the Miles Christianus.
Based on the broadsheet-collection of the National library of Sweden (Kungliga biblioteket; literally translated as The Royal Library) the change of the publicistic image of the Swedish king, between his landing at Usedom on July 6th 1630 and his death on November 16th 1632 at the battlefield of Lützen and later, will be discussed. Many modern historians who work with illustrated broadsheets maintain that Gustavus Adolphus was only present in protestant popular press until around 1634/35. Thereafter, protestant authors and propagandists didn’t refer to him in their broadsheets. However, in this paper it is posited that the Swedish king was indeed present in protestant propaganda for a longer period than has been heretofore assumed.