Recent Publications


From about 1550 onwards, the Mantuan antiquary and architect Jacopo Strada (1515–1588) created a thirty-volume corpus for the Augsburg banker and politician Hans Jakob Fugger (1516–1575), depicting coins of the Roman Empire from Gaius Julius Caesar to Charles V: the Magnum ac Novum Opus. Now preserved in the Gotha Research Library, it contains almost nine thousand drawings of Roman Imperial coins. Strada also created an eleven-volume coin catalogue, A. A. A. NumismatΩn Antiquorum ΔΙΑΣΚΕΥΕ, of which two surviving manuscripts are preserved in Vienna and in Prague. The latter work contains coin descriptions that, Strada claimed, complemented the Magnum ac Novum Opus. In a project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), images and texts have been combined for the first time. The two works have been studied in their relationship to each other and have been placed in their antiquarian-numismatic and art historical context. The first results of this combination of diverse scholarly approaches are published in this volume. They include numerous new aspects of and perspectives on antiquarian scholarship during the second half of the sixteenth century, and thus represent an important contribution to the history of antiquarian studies, in particular of early numismatics.


The New World was the place of longing for many missionaries in the early modern period. The Jesuits, in particular, helped to carry the Catholic faith beyond the edges of the known world of the time. Beginning in the late 17th century, hundreds of Jesuits from Central Europe participated in the global mission. The journey to the New World was full of risks and uncertainties. The way first led the missionaries across the Mediterranean to Spain. In the Andalusian port cities they had to wait for the onward journey across the Atlantic – some for a few months, others for several years. This study focuses on this waiting period and examines the life and emotional world of the central European Jesuits on the threshold to overseas.


What is secret diplomacy and how was it conducted in the past? The search for answers leads into the shady underground of political events, into the dark corridors of history. Behind it lies a labyrinth of betrayal, secrets, deception and risk. The adventurers, spies and their profession take form in the reports of their hunters. Some of their careers are almost cinematic, up to the point of becoming state prisoners at the Königstein fortress. Until the espionage hysteria of the Seven Years' War, the power play unfolded in the competition between the courts for the best cipher and the smallest informational advantage. The system of elaborate intelligence services becomes clear from countless coded letters and cipher boards. The ‘silent war’ had many protagonists, secret places and practices.

Anne-Simone Rous, 2009–2013 fellow at the graduate centre "Untergrundforschung 1500–1800" of the Gotha Research Centre, for the first time systematically analyses the factors, actors and methods of secret diplomacy and discusses them using examples from the major European conflicts of the early modern period, when Saxony was the second most important power in the Holy Roman Empire. The sources tell of the early bureaucracy in the chancelleries and the fear of those involved, but also of pitfalls that still have an effect today.


In his new book on the global history of ideas, Martin Mulsow interprets the early modern period as an age of risky references in which transcultural references sometimes succeed, but often go awry, come to nothing, or lead to misunderstandings.

In eight chapters, each of which traces pre-modern entanglements that sometimes present themselves as aberrations or confusions, a Hamburg physician, for example, sets out in search of Turkish combat drugs; the philosopher Leibniz researches the earliest Chinese characters; Spaniards in Peruvian Potosí have to see how the devil is worshipped in the mines, and a collector of the Lord's Prayer despairs of the vocabulary of the African Khoikhoi.

Cover das Haar als Argument

Whether beard, bald pate, wig or plait, long, short or bouffant – the hairstyle always says something. It can connote visible demarcations between religions, denominations, ethnic groups or statuses, an individual desire for distinction, an expression of emotions, or humiliation by others, for example in shaving a beard or head of hair. Knowledge about historical hair fashions and their meaning has fed into contemporary debates throughout the Middle Ages and the early modern period.

The authors, who tap into a broad spectrum of literary, religious, political, scholarly and pharmaceutical sources as well as artistic works, simultaneously understand the cultural history of hair as its history of knowledge. They discuss how knowledge about hair practices and meanings was archived, circulated and instrumentalised as an argument in 'hair-loving' societies. In the process, disciplines that traditionally work with text philology and object history are combined with current social and body-historical questions.


Pre-modern war entrepreneurship was by no means only a transitional phenomenon in a linear development to the 'nationalised' army of the 18th to 20th centuries, as suggested by the talk of a 'return of mercenaryism' that is circulating in the media and political science, but a phenomenon that transcended space and epochs. The volume asks under which political, social, technological and economic conditions such a connection between warlike and entrepreneurial action could arise, but also lose its significance again – without ever disappearing completely. The concept of the capitalisation of war is used as an analytical category.