Recent Publications

2023

The volume edited by Markus Meumann, the Managing Director of the Gotha Research Centre, and Uta Wallenstein, the curator of the 2023 Friedenstein exhibition on Freemasonry, provide extensive insights into the lodge life of the Freemasons and the Illuminati Order in Gotha during the regency of Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. The enlightened duke had been a member of the Gotha Masonic Lodge "Zum Rautenkranz" since 1774 and was the Provincial Grand Master of the Great Provincial Lodge of Germany from 1775 to 1777. From 1782 he promoted secret lodge leadership through the Gotha-based Illuminati Order, which he joined in 1783. A look at Ernst II's private Masonic library reveals his great interest in the mysteries of Egypt. Supposedly the oldest and most perfect mystery culture, Ancient Egypt was considered by 18th century Freemasons to be the epitome of symbolic expression and mysteries. A special thematic section of the catalogue is dedicated to this spiritual enthusiasm for Egypt, which also left its mark in Gotha.

2022

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.

2023

Foreign coins from India, Japan or Arabia radiate an auspicious attraction. How did they get to Europe? What do the inscriptions and symbols they contain mean? And who were the people who used to pay with them? In this richly illustrated cultural-historical essay, Martin Mulsow tells the story of coin research using a wealth of hitherto completely unknown material from various European archives, thus drawing attention to an early chapter of globalisation. It is the story of a so-called intellectual encirclement of Asia. A group of scholars in the 17th and early 18th centuries explored the Middle and Far East from their armchairs with the help of these coinages: Arabia was captured on cardboard, China was chronicled in notebooks, and the Mughal emperor in India came to life by deciphering intricate Persian inscriptions. They minted the coins once again with their research and projections.

2022

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.

2023

The novel Die Zwei und vierzig jährige Äffin (1800), according to its subtitle "Das vermaledeiteste Märchen unter der Sonne" (The most wicked fairy tale under the sun), was a provocation when it appeared - anonymously, of course. As a hetaera, a black woman not only drives rows and rows of rich and powerful old men out of their minds, out of their money and sometimes out of their lives, she also becomes active in literature and ends up founding an academy. Now, on the 250th anniversary of the birth of its author Michael Kosmeli (1773-1844), the novel is being reissued, annotated and with an afterword by literary historian Dirk Sangmeister.

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.