The change from parchment to paper for writing is regarded in the research as a necessary condition for the rapid growth of scripturality in Late Mediaeval Europe. There has however been a dearth of studies to date that have empirically examined this thesis and gauged the extent of paper consumption or how it came to supplant the previously dominant parchment. The sub-project wishes to close this gap in the research by means of comparative artefactual analyses of the contents of offices and archives that have been handed down in toto, and by a combination of statistical research procedures and qualitative-descriptive analyses.
The aim is to arrive at deeper insights into innovatory processes that ran different courses from region to region. In addition to this geographical approach, a social categorisation is also aimed at: on the longer term, it is important to research the process of change from parchment to paper in (a) ecclesiastical offices which – being transpersonally organised and linked in a broad geographical network – soon had a great need to set down the administrative work in writing, (b) in royal chanceries, as the nerve centres of royal dominion, (c) in municipal chanceries, where the new medium was introduced by communal elites made up of traders, and (d) in the universities as centres of scholarly knowledge.
Point of departure is an exemplary in-depth analysis based on two regions, performed from a cultural historical perspective (habilitation project by Dr. Carla Meyer): it focuses on the one hand on the question of how the new medium established itself in northern Italy, the earliest European centre for paper manufacture, in which the scripturality of the nobility and the municipality mostly amounted to the same thing. In addition comes a quantitative and qualitative study of the processes of transmission in the north-Alpine region. Due to the close networks in trade, the choice has fallen here on examples from south-west Germany that possesses thorough documentation: it is presumed that the first social strata to use the new medium were those of the church and the royal chanceries.
This post-doc project during the first phase is flanked by a dissertation project (Sandra Schultz) researching the parameters of paper manufacture from the technical and socio-historical perspectives: the aim is to trace out how the technical requirements for the mass manufacture of paper created in thirteenth century northern Italy could spread across the whole of Europe. Here again two regions will be taken as cases in point which both were reached by the technology transfer just a few decades apart during the fourteenth century: on the one hand the south-German region and on the other the French area.
Collaboration Partners working with Sub-project A6
Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart (“Digitale Publikation der Wasserzeichendatei Piccard”, “Bernstein – The Memory of Paper”, “Wasserzeichen-Informationssystem Deutschland” (WZIS) among others) – Dr. Peter Rückert and Dr. Erwin Frauenknecht
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Cologne – Thomas Klinke, certified conservator and assessor of the IHK Köln for damage assessment and the conservation of European drawings, prints and books, and for ascertaining their technological features.