The production of genealogical knowledge in pre-modern times

The production of genealogical knowledge in pre-modern times

Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel and the chair for Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit der Universität Hamburg; Conveners: Jost Eickmeyer (Berlin), Markus Friedrich (Hamburg), Volker Bauer (Wolfenbüttel)
Bibliotheca Augusta: Bibelsaal
Vom - Bis
10.04.2017 - 12.04.2017
Bauer, Volker

Decades ago, J. H. Plumb spoke of a „genealogical craze“ that seized Europe in the later Middle Ages and particularly in the early modern period. Modern scholarship has not overlooked the importance of genealogy. A wide range of publications has discussed, among other questions, the social motives behind early modern genealogies, their representational functions, their media, and their crucial role in matters of ceremonial status. Historians, art historians, and historians of literature have discussed various approaches to answering two important questions: why were genealogies important for people, and how were they presented in order to fulfil their function?

What has attracted much less attention, however, is another question: How did early modern Europeans actually acquire genealogical knowledge? While scholars regularly think about the function and presentation of genealogies, they only rarely address the equally important point of knowledge production. Yet this was a question of great concern to contemporaries. Early modern Europe saw a significant shift in what counted as proper genealogical knowledge. While „Fable genealogies“ (Roberto Bizzocchi) retained some importance well into the 18th century, genealogy largely came to be based on written evidence, usually gathered from archives and libraries. In addition to authentic charters and other manuscript documentation, material sources – coins, epitaphs, coats of arms – became highly important. This meant that the production of family genealogies frequently turned into wide-ranging research projects. The social role of the „genealogist“, capable of locating, evaluating, deciphering, and interpreting pertinent documents in a range of repositories, emerged. These genealogists developed a wide range of technical knowledge helpful in the complex processes of researching family ties.

The conference at Wolfenbüttel attempts to investigate in a coherent and pan-European manner both the people and the procedures involved in producing genealogical knowledge. It turns away from the end products of early modern genealogy, the finished and splendidly presented genealogical tables. Instead, it focuses on genealogies in the making. It investigates research strategies and inherent difficulties and discusses the media involved in researching genealogies (notebooks, manuscript copies, drawings of evidence). A key question is if and how the genealogists’ research strategies relate to the erudite traditions of antiquarian historiography in the 17th and 18th centuries. Another important topic to investigate is the authenticating role of research practices: How did sources considered to be ‚authentic‘ make genealogical reconstructions trustworthy, how were sources actually deployed to construct dynastic lineages? We are also interested in the social dimension of the production of genealogical knowledge: Who were the genealogists and what relationships did they have with their patrons? What role did genealogical research have in their careers? How did genealogical research work on day-to-day basis? To what degree is it actually meaningful to distinguish at all between historians and genealogists in early modern Europe?


Monday, 10.04.2017

13.30 h Welcome
Friedrich, Markus: Introduction

Biblical Contexts

14.00 h Gruhl, Reinhard: Inconsistencies in the Lord's bloodline? The exegetical, historical and apologetic discussion about the different genealogies of Jesus Christ among early modern authors

14.45 h Macfarlane, Kirsten: Sacred History in Secular Form: The Collaborative Production of the Genealogies prefixed to the King James Bible (1611)

15.30 h Coffee break

Cases of individual genealogists:

16.00 h Eickmeyer, Jost: The Production and Application of Genealogical Knowledge in Elias Reusner’s Academic an Poetical Work

16.45 h Kampkaspar, Dario: The difficulties of finding the source's sources. – Pleickhard von Helmstatt's pedigree charts

17.30 h Harding, Elizabeth: Estors Practische anleitung zur ANENPROBE (1750) and genealogical techniques for proving nobility

Tuesday, 11.04.2017

09.00 h Friedrich, Markus: How an early modern genealogist got his information. Jacob Wilhelm Imhoff and the respublica genealogica

09.45 h Winnerling, Tobias: Three families, two professors’ sons, one second wife, or: How to disentangle four generations of Anthonii Matthaei

10.30 h Coffee break

11.00 h Poncet, Olivier: The genealogical making of of André Duchesne (1584-1640)

11.45 h Tölle, Tom: Generation, Theft, and Dynasty in 18th-century Württemberg: Preacher Johann Ulrich Pregizer’s Genealogies

12.30 h Lunch

Dynasties and the political impact of genealogical knowledge-making

14.00 h Hecht, Michael: Production of genealogical knowledge and the invention of princely ‚dynasties‘

14.45 h Brakensiek, Stefan / Heinemann, Olav: Ancestors drawn from the shadows. The construction of the Wettin ancestry in 16th century Saxony

15.30 h Coffee break

16.00 h Al-Baghdadi, Saniye: Arbor and tabula. A visual insight into the production of genealogical knowledge at the Savoy court in the Sixteenth century

16.45 h Erdner, Sven: Leibniz´s Search for the Ancestors of Azzo II. of Este (d. 1097). His Genealogical Studies on the Origins of the House of Brunswick

Noble houses and their genealogical heritage across Europe

17.30 h Pietri, Valérie: Family papers and family tales: the making of domestic genealogies in Ancient Regime France

Wednesday, 12.04.2017

09.00 h Jettot, Stéphane: “I am ye worst genealogist in ye world but in answer to yours ye best account I will give you I believe the family came in with the conqueror”: Family input in the making of London genealogical directories in the 18th century.

09.45 h Flurschütz da Cruz, Andreas: Genealogies in the Making. (Re-)Constructing genealogical Contexts in Southern German Aristocracies (16th–18th c.)

10.30 h Coffee break

11.00 h Lurdes Rosa, Maria de: The production of genealogical knowledge for the arrangement of noble family archives in Portugal, 15th – early 19th century

11.45 h Guy, Ben: Writing Genealogy in Early Modern Wales: Sources and Practitioners

12.30 h Final Discussion:
Comment: Alexandra Walsham


Dr. Volker Bauer

Herzog August Bibliothek, Postfach 13 64, D-38299 Wolfenbüttel