The MGH Constitutiones et acta publica publish selected texts, namely privileges, mandates and letters of the ruler and texts produced by electors, princes and cities, which, without thematic limitation, are open for all possible research questions. Each selected item is given verbatim in the historical form in which it appears in the manuscript source, together with a text-critical and factual commentary. Within the project, which covers the period 911–1378, only the final years of the reigns of the emperors Ludwig IV (1314–1347) and Charles IV (1346–1378) have yet to be completed. From these two rulers more than 16,000 documents survived, of which almost half have already been published in the Constitutiones series. In total these contain, so far, around 11,000 texts of documents and registers.
The medieval Roman Empire extended from Flanders in the west to Pomerania and Silesia in the east, from Holstein in the north to Central Italy in the south, and so across more than a dozen modern states. Since the emperor maintained many and varied contacts with the pope and the rulers of the neighbouring countries, the relevant documents must be located all around Europe. This makes close international cooperation indispensable.
The benefits of this work for research in Germany and beyond is, on the one hand, the expansion of the source material by publishing a large number of hitherto wholly unknown or unpublished documents. On the other hand, texts that had been printed only in inadequate versions will now be published in scholarly form, which makes the source-basis of medieval studies significantly more secure. Beyond this, the MGH Constitutiones, by recording the material present in archives, is making a central contribution to the preservation of Europe’s written cultural heritage.
The Academy Project ‘Monumenta Germaniae Historica’ is part of the Academy Programme funded by the German Federation and States, which preserves, secures and communicates our cultural heritage. The Programme is coordinated by the Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities.