The volume is a tribute to Hagen Keller, whose long scientific activity has influenced medieval studies in many different fields, which are dealt with in the ten chapters of the book. The first chapter, edited by Christoph Dartmann and Jenny Oesterle, is divided into two sections: the first discusses in a synthetic way with the development of historical science and political history, a process which was profoundly influenced by Keller himself (p. 8); the second part contains the long presentation of the scientific profile of the dedicatee of the book, together with a review of the thematic cores of his production (p. 15).
Jörg Busch focuses his chapter on the destruction of the royal palace in Pavia (1024). The title does not exhaust the complexity of the intervention because the proposed themes are varied and wide. Taking the examples of Otto III, Arduino of Ivrea and Henry II, who reigned in very different contexts, Busch underlines the importance of the existence of a seat of royal power in Italy that would allow continuity and documentary memory, without the succession of kings conditioning it. However, according to the author, the uniqueness of the documentation produced over time in Pavia does not support the thesis of the independence of the so-called “öffentliche Ordnung” from the “personalen Bindungen”, thus mitigating the exaggerated sense of modernity (p. 52).
The third chapter is entrusted to one of the editors of the work, Christoph Dartmann, who deals with the implications of the broad concept of "Transmarine Staatlichkeit", a topic already discussed in the context of the Konstanzer Arbeitskreis. After a long excursus dealing with the concepts of “Staat-Herrschaft-Staatlichkeit” (pp. 55–62), which Keller has studied in depth in the Ottonian context, the second part of the chapter deals with the maritime projection of the city of Genoa from the 12th century (pp. 62–68). In the conclusion, questions are left open on the degree of centralization that the city comune of Genoa managed to organize in the 14th century, a fundamental passage in its history as a “Seestadt”.
“Der Verschriftlichungsprozess und seine Träger in Oberitalien“, focus of the Münsteraner Sonderforschungsbereich 231 led by Hagen Keller, becomes the heart of Petra Schulte's contribution (p. 71). The author underlines the delay of historical science compared to philosophy in tackling the issue of the history of information (p. 73). Schulte, who correctly uses the Latin word informatio, illustrates the object of work in private and public communication within the city context in the last centuries of the Middle Ages (p. 75). The concept of informatio is addressed to in four separate definitions: “als Formung, Unterweisung” (p. 76), “als Entscheidungsgrundlage” (p. 78), “als Staatsraison” (p. 81), “als Erweiterung des Gesichtsfelds” (p. 88) in whose analyses numerous sources belonging to very different European contexts are called into question. The conclusions, which assume the character of a status quaestionis, highlight the great potential of this area of medieval studies.
Marita Blattmann participates in the volume with the most demanding contribution, which deals with the mosaic inside the Benedictine monastery of Schuttern. In the seventy-five pages of her work, Blattmann summarises the state of research on the subject and provides useful suggestions for reading the numerous inscriptions (pp. 98–108). In the long central section of her analysis, Blattmann also deals with regional political and religious history since the 12th century as an age in which the reforming will of the regular clergy is also evident in the German regional monastic centers.
The chapter entrusted to Franz-Joseph Arlinghaus deals with the use of “Gnadenbitten” in late medieval German cities. The discussion starts from the fundamental studies of Hagen Keller and Bernd Schneidmüller on the concept of “konsensuale Herrschaft” (p. 173), declined in the urban context. The request for royal pardon is commonly understood as a “ritualhafter Akt” but in the city context it takes on a more sober and less spectacular, more individual and less collective connotation (p. 180) with the addition of increasingly substantial written documentation which reports these scenes, unlike what happened in the same rituals involving the aristocracy (p. 181). Finally, Arlinghaus proposes the transfer of Gerd Althoff's theses concerning the ruling classes of the X–XII centuries to the society of the Late Middle Age on the basis of “konsensuale Herrschaft”, following the model already anticipated by Hagen Keller.
Jenny Oesterle presents her chapter “Kirchenasyl im Wandel – von der Merwingerzeit bis zur Gottesfriedensbewegung” focusing on the changes that affected this practice from the Merovingian age, “goldenes Zeitalter des Kirchenasyls” (p. 193), up to the 12th century.
Thomas Scharff analyses the consequences and significance of the battle of Fontenoy (841) through the presentation of contemporary documents, up to the twentieth century. Thus, the author presents an example of the use of military events helpful to form a certain political discourse, exalting the events themselves and creating new images of history (p. 231). Christoph Weber presents the interesting figure of a jurist, Johann Becker, who wrote a (false) biography of a master of the Teutonic order. Weber underlines the historical value of a text written only for amusement.
The last chapter proposes the interview conducted with Hagen Keller by the editorial staff of Reti Medievali in 2008. In this long interlocution Keller talks about himself and, beyond the sections focused on the accademic side, those on his youth, on his decision to become a professor, on his relationships with his academic colleagues and on the special one with Italy, which began with his stay in Rome in 1963 at the DHI, strongly desired by his mentor Gerd Tellenbach prove definitely interesting.
The volume presents the great variety of themes that characterized Hagen Keller's scientific production, giving us back the figure of a multifaceted historian in his studies. Even if the contributors have been exhaustive in their expositions, the great variety of topics could make their enjoyment not too immediate but, generally, the depth and accuracy of the contributions make up for this drawback. This book becomes a one more opportunity to celebrate Hagen Keller as one of the historians who marked a decisive and innovative turning point in many areas of medieval studies, as well as a helpful introduction to his works for new generations of students.