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Geschichte des Unternehmens

The origins of the project go back to the year 1896. It was then that Paul Fridolin Kehr (1860-1944) proposed to the Königliche Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (the Royal Society of the Sciences at Göttingen) that the complete surviving output of papal documents down to 1198 should be collected and edited along the lines of the Regesta Imperii. Also planned were a collection of facsimiles and a new edition of Philipp Jaffé’s Regesta of papal documents, which had been compiled on strictly chronological lines. Out of this plan for a ‘Collection and Edition of the Older Papal Documents down to Innocent III (1896)’ eventually grew a scheme with a completely new methodological approach, the Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, a ‘history of documentary sources’ for each of those churches which had been in contact with the papacy on at least one occasion before the end of the twelfth century.

From the beginning the Göttingen Papsturkunden project was, as this name suggests, supported by the Königliche Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, nowadays the Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Since 1931 support has also come from the Pius-Stiftung für Papsturkunden- und mittelalterliche Geschichtsforschung, based in Zürich, whose financial endowments were supplied by Pope Pius XI (1922-39). Since 1948 the Pius-Stiftung für Papsturkundenforschung has been supervised by an academic committee consisting of one representative each from the Archivio Segreto Vaticano or the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, the Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung and the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Geschichte under the direction of the president of the philological and historical division of the Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen. Academic direction is the responsibility of the secretary of the Pius-Stiftung, a post first held by Walther Holtzmann (died 25 November 1963). He was succeeded by Theodor Schieffer (died 9 April 1992) and by Rudolf Hiestand (1987-2003, Düsseldorf). In January 2004 the academic direction of the project passed to Klaus Herbers (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg).

The materials collected for the project since 1896 (photographs, microfilms, tracings, drawings, handwriting specimens, manuscript copies) are to be found today not only in the {centre for operations} on Papsturkunden research in Göttingen (formerly Bonn) but also in Rome, Paris, Munich (formerly Berkeley), Düsseldorf and Erlangen. In addition to these Göttingen possesses the extensive compilations of Harald Zimmermann, a valuable gift.

Annual reports on the activity of the Pius-Stiftung can be found in Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters, in the Jahrbuch der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, in the Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung, in the Miscellanea Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae and also in the Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia.


Further reading on the project: Rudolf Hiestand, ‘100 Jahre Papsturkundenwerk’, in idem, ed. 100 Jahre Papsturkundenforschung. Bilanz – Methoden – Perspektiven, Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissen- schaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-Historische Klasse, 3rd series, 261 (Göttingen, 2003), 11-46.