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The Edition of Emperor Friedrich II's Charters


The Edition of Emperor Frederick II’s Charters

The edition of Emperor Frederick II’s charters is a project supported by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Munich. It focuses on researching and editing the legal documents of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1194-1250). The project has grown to about twice the size of the so far largest edition of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa’s charters, completed in Vienna in 1990. As of today, the critical edition of Frederick II’s charters represents the largest international edition of medieval documents.

All in all about 2.600 documents were collected, all made accessible to historical research in accordance with the strict editing rules of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH). The research focuses on the legal aspects of the document texts. Since only about a third of the Staufer’s 2.600 documents are passed on in their original form, the text of each and every record is being edited based on a thorough and comprehensive examination of all textual witnesses available.

To medieval kings and emperors, legal documents were important in various ways: Of course they primarily served as tools of legal communication between a ruler and his subjects, but they were also splendidly drafted and thereby represented a perfect medium of monarchical self-portrayal.

Significant Contemporary Witnesses

Research and edition of the documents not only make these essential contemporary witnesses available but also proves their importance as regards the history of politics, economy and society.

The project contributes to legal and constitutional history, specifically that of Germany (in terms of the old empire), of Italy and Southern France as well as to overall history, the history of chancellery and administration practices during the first half of the century as well as to the development of the Latin language at that time.  

All relevant materials are distributed between Malta and Stockholm or London and St. Petersburg. Review and collection of these records have basically been completed for some years. 1721 edition numbers of those 2,600 mentioned documents have already been published in seven volumes. At that point, Frederick II’s charters are edited up to the year of 1236, while a considerable inventory of records from another 14 years of his reign still lie ahead.

The individual volumes of the Diplomata-Series („Die Urkunden der deutschen Könige und Kaiser”) are published in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH).


Since 1990 the edition of Emperor Frederick II’s charters has been implemented within the Academies' Programmesupervised by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities.