(English) Digital Approaches to Early Modern History: Frameworks, Tools and Resources (Workshop)

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Textual sources from the early modern period pose specific challenges with regards to their digital acquisition, analysis, and representation. First, the full-text digitization of sources is elaborate and time-consuming, and it still is far away from being fully automatable in a way sufficient to the needs of scholarly researchers. Second, the digital analysis of such data relies on specific historical and textual data models and ontologies and needs to be conducted, on the one hand, through time-consuming scholarly studying and manual annotation of the texts; automatic applications, on the other side, face a significant shortage of natural language processing tools applicable to „low-resourced“ languages such as early modern Spanish or Latin, or of linguistic and semantic resources appropriate for these specific periods and languages. Finally, while discussions about (textual) data representations and visualizations lie at the very heart of current digital humanities endeavours, there still is only rudimentary consensus about best practices in representing early modern texts and data in all their (multimedial/multimodal) variety in digital forms, as well as about their versioning, forms of readerly participation, underlying software architectures, etc.

Some methods and infrastructures that address these challenges are well-known: For instance, the acquisition of historical (text) data may be enhanced through forms of crowdsourcing and collaborative digital editing and technically facilitated by collaborative annotation tools; linked open data models and related infrastructures aim to provide means for annotating data in a way conforming to interoperable, semantic web standards. But also, there is an ever-increasing amount of specific linguistic and geographic resources as well as tools tailored by and for individual early modern research projects – projects that could potentially benefit through communicating and exchanging their resources and tools. In order to strengthen the community-driven use of already existing frameworks and tools, and to communicate methods and tools that were hitherto unknown outside specific use cases, an exchange of theoretical as well as methodological and practical knowledge about digital approaches to early modern historical questions seems crucial.

With the aim of enabling such an exchange on an interdisciplinary and, in a way, also intercultural scale, the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History and the project „The School of Salamanca: A Digital Collection of Sources and a Dictionary of its Juridical-Political Language“ organize a workshop with digital humanities experts from Latin America and Europe. The workshop will comprise a small number of individual project presentations as a common ground for in-depth, hands-on discussions about technical tools, methods and frameworks as well as about (linguistic, geographical, ontological, etc.) resources for the study of early modern sources and contexts.

Date: 23 October 2018
Place: Instituto Max Planck Argentina – Instituto de Investigación en Biomedicina de Buenos Aires, C1425FQD, Godoy Cruz 2390, Buenos Aires
The workshop will be held in Spanish, although contributions may be in English as well.

For registration, please contact us until 15 October 2018 at: salamanca@rg.mpg.de.

14:00 Thomas Duve: Welcome
14:05 Andreas Wagner / David Glück: Introduction
14:15 Andreas Wagner: Digital Humanities Research Related to Ibero-America at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History
14:45 David Glück: Methods, Frameworks, and Linguistic Resources in the Digital Edition of „The School of Salamanca“
15:15 Discussion
15:30 Hands-On Session: Frameworks, Methods and Tools for Digital Early Modern History
16:30-17:00 Coffee Break
17:00 Gimena del Rio Riande, Romina De León, Nidia Hernández (HD CAICYT Lab, CONICET): Integrating annotation, digital edition tools and GIS resources: Practical experiences from the LatAm project (project presentation and hands on session)
18:00 Discussion
18:30 Closing of the Workshop and Farewell

(English) The School of Salamanca: A Case of Global Knowledge Production? Conference, 24-26 October 2018, Buenos Aires

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by Christiane Birr

In 2018, the university of Salamanca celebrates its 800th anniversary, an event not only of Castilian or Spanish importance, but with world-wide reverberations. From the beginning of the 16th century until the 18th century, the so-called School of Salamanca shaped the juridical-political discourse and language of the two great Iberian empires, with its characteristic intertwining of science, jurisprudence, religion, and politics. Theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, natural sciences owe substantial innovations to this group of Spanish, Portuguese and American thinkers whose impact was never limited by frontiers of countries, continents, or religious denominations. In East and West traces of their thinking and teaching can be found. Universities followed the Salmantine curriculum; in America and Asia, texts from Salamanca were studied, excerpted, copied, and new works were written, based on the principles, content and scientific practices of this school. Without the American and Asian experiences and voices, modern jurisprudence, philosophy and theology, as we know them, would not exist.

For a long time, this world-wide significance of the school of Salamanca was understood as a phenomenon of the reception, in which the American and Asian actors appeared only as passive recipients of European knowledge and normativity. However, processes of global interactions are brought into focus by recent researches in the fields of legal history, philosophy, and history of knowledge. “Salamanca“ thus becomes a point of intersection in a world-encompassing network of normative knowledge production.

Normative systems which had deep roots in European history and traditions were replicated, complemented, changed, and adapted to local needs – and then reflected back to Spain, to Europe.  In the American context, the production of knowledge had to face new challenges: the encounter with hitherto unknown peoples and religions, the geographical distance to Europe and the enormous dimension of the American continent itself were only a few of them. Such external factors enabled and forced Spanish and Portuguese jurists, theologians, and philosophers to leave the well-trodden paths of medieval tradition and to find new answers for the new questions of a new time. Authors, books, and ideas then found their way back to Europe, into the lecture halls of the universities as well as into the session chambers of political bodies. The discourse about a law of nations and universal human rights began in the so-called School of Salamanca and is only the best-known example for the fundamental role the American experiences played in the development of a modern Europe.

The Conference shall provide an opportunity to reflect about how this normative knowledge was produced, with an especial attention on the American parts of the Iberian monarchies of the 16-18th centuries: in university lectures and writings, but also in political and/or juridical decisions. What was the institutional framework of knowledge production, and how did it influence the results? How to analyze the process of knowledge production under the perspectives of cultural translation and textuality? – Such questions can only be answered on a broad fundament of microhistorical studies of actors, practices, knowledge reservoirs, and institutions. As a result, we may expect a new, richly shaded image of the School of Salamanca’s global significance.

In preparation for the discussions and the conference, Thomas Duve has presented some ideas in his working paper “La Escuela de Salamanca: ¿un caso de producción global de conocimiento?“, SvSal WP No. 2018-02.


For further information, please contact us at salamanca@rg.mpg.de

(English) Taking Stock of Our Research Activities: The School of Salamanca in the Activity Report of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, 2015-2017

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Activity Report 2015-2017.

Every three years, the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt a.M. presents a report of its activities, and this year’s report is brandnew:


As associated researchers, SvSal team members José Luis Egío and Christiane Birr are also part of the institute’s activities: you can find their report on the research field Legal History of the School of Salamanca (pp. 58-60) and their personal research summary The School of Salamanca. A digital collection of sources and a dictionary of its juridical-political language (pp. 88-91), as well as detailed information about all the research going on in this vibrant community of scholars.

#wonachsuchstdu: Podiumsdiskussion am Max-Planck-Tag 2018

Am 14. September 2018 war Max-Planck-Tag, eine Feier der Wissenschaft in allen ihren Facetten. Thomas Duve war mit anderen Frankfurter MPI-DirektorInnen zu einer Podiumsdiskussion über Fragen und Facetten von Grundlagenforschung in die Evangelische Akademie eingeladen. Das Gespräch wurde von der Wissenschaftsjournalistin Regina Oehler geleitet.

Die Gesprächsrunde war gut aufgelegt, und das Publikum hat viel gelernt – wie man Max-Planck-Direktor wird, was ein Rechtshistoriker eigentlich macht und welche Fragen die Gesprächsteilnehmer schon immer gern mal ihren Kolleginnen und Kollegen gestellt hätten. Das Gespräch ist für hr-info aufgenommen worden und wird zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt im Radio gesendet.

(English) “Before Vitoria. Early Theological and Juridical Responses to the Spanish Expansion“ – New Publications

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by Christiane Birr

We are happy and proud that our „Before Vitoria“ focus in the latest edition of Rechtsgeschichte – Legal History 26 (2018) are out now.

There is a consensus among historians that the School of Salamanca brought something new to the development of early modern European legal thinking and methodology. Francisco de Vitoria is considered, not only by modern researchers but also by his contemporaries (from Melchor Cano onward), the origin of the school and its founding figure. He is famously claimed to have introduced Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae as the fundamental  text  for  theological  lectures  at  the  University of Salamanca and so prepared the ground for the upsurge of academic activity and intellectual brilliance of late or modern scholasticism at Spanish, Portuguese, and American universities. Regardless of the differences in the assessments of the late scholastics’ political stance (whether viewed as trailblazers on the way to human rights and a modern law of nations or as conservative imperialists, whose sole intent was the perpetuation and legitimation of the Spanish rule in the Americas), Vitoria and his followers are seen as intellectual innovators, opening the restrictive traditions of medieval scholarship to the modern exigencies of a globalized world.

This almost universal image has recently been called into question, with Jacob Schmutz showing that Vitoria was not quite the first to introduce Aquinas’s Summa into the teaching of Salamanca’s theological faculty, and Thomas Duve recently asking outright: Did everything actually start with Francisco de Vitoria?

Far from being a homogenous group, the School of Salamanca developed incredibly rich debates about juridical, theological, and philosophical ideas, bringing together traditions of medieval scholarship and the new historical dilemma arising from the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the ›discovery‹ of  new  pagan peoples.  Nevertheless, the innovativeness of those debates can only be gauged by studying them from a broad perspective that takes into account not only the well-known medieval traditions but also debates that took place between the authors of the 15th and early 16th centuries, who also saw themselves confronted with the problems of an ever-growing Spanish presence in the Atlantic world.

The following three contributions undertake to shed light on this constant and problematic evolution of the reflection about dominium and in fidelity among  Spanish  theologians and jurists, showing how dramatically the significance of a given juridical or theological topic can change in light of new historical circumstances. They offer glimpses into a close-knit network of personal contacts and academic debates in which important revisions and reconceptualizations of medieval concepts were shaped, both before and after Francisco de Vitoria took up his chair of theology at Salamanca’s university in 1526. The ideas offered here were first presented at the XIV International Congress of the Société Internationale pour l’Étude de la Philosophie Médiévale, Homo – Natura – Mundus: Human  Beings  and  their  Relationships, held at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, July 24–28, 2017. They were read and discussed in the congress’s special session, The Men of the New World in the Works of the Salamanca Jurists and Theologians / Os  homens  do  Novo  Mundo  nas  obras  dos  juristas  e dos  teólogos  de  Salamanca, proposed by Matthias Lutz-Bachmann from the Institute for Philosophy at Frankfurt’s Goethe University. These papers have been considerably re-worked and expanded for publication.

Check out our three articles:

Marco Toste: Invincible Ignorance and the Americas: Why and How the Salamancan Theologians Made Use of a Medieval Notion

José Luis Egío: Matías De Paz and the Introduction of Thomism in the Asuntos De Indias: A Conceptual Revolution

Christiane Birr: Dominium in the Indies. Juan López de Palacios Rubios’ Libellus de insulis oceanis quas vulgus indias appelat (1512–1516)

Die SvSal im Frankfurter Städel

Im Juli dieses Jahres hat unser Projektleiter Thomas Duve einen Ausflug ins Frankfurter Städel-Museum gemacht und über seine Sicht auf ausgewählte Werke dort gesprochen, unter anderem über den „Stammbaum der Dominikaner“ von Hans Holbein d. Ä. Am Beispiel von Johannes Vermeers „Der Geograf“ blickt er auf das Delft des 17. Jahrhunderts und die Ausbildung von informellen Imperien. Für alle, die nicht dabei sein konnten, gibt es ein kurzes Video:


Der „Stammbaum der Dominikaner“ im Städel-Museum:


Snapshot-Praktikum bei der Schule von Salamanca


Die Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, bietet allen StudentInnen, AbsolventInnen und Promovierenden der Uni Mainz die Möglichkeit zu einem Snapshot-Praktikum: Eine Woche lang kann man den Forschungsalltag im Projekt „Die Schule von Salamanca: Eine digitale Quellensammlung“ live miterleben.


Im August haben wir Laura Kopp von der Historischen Fakultät bei uns begrüßen dürfen. Editionsarbeit, Digital Humanities, Aufbau und Pflege einer Webanwendung für Forscher, die Arbeit in einem internationalen und interdisziplinären Forscherkreis, fachliche Gesprächsrunden über historische Fragen, viel Spaß und Spundekäs – wir haben nichts ausgelassen!

Kolloquium – Projekt „Die Schule von Salamanca“: „Perspectivas historiográficas y nuevos desafíos en la investigación sobre la Escuela de Salamanca“

Vortragender: Juan Belda Plans [Webseite: https://juanbeldaplans.com/]
Datum: 15.6.2018
Zeit: 15.00-18.00
Ort: MPIeR
Raum: Vortragssaal des MPI
Organisation: Christiane Birr, José Luis Egío

Juan Belda Plans ist seit langem einer der renommiertesten Forscher zur spanischen Spätscholastik und hat nicht nur mit seiner kommentierten Übersetzung von Melchor Canos „De locis theologicis“, eines der wichtigsten Werke der spanischen Spätscholastik, Maßstäbe gesetzt. Wir freuen uns deshalb besonders, dass er im Rahmen des Projektkolloquiums ein Resümee der Forschungslage zur Schule von Salamanca ziehen und aus seiner Sicht neue Forschungsperspektiven aufzeigen wird.
Die Veranstaltungssprache ist Spanisch.


Scandalum und Menschenrechte – Kolloquium des Projekts „Die Schule von Salamanca“

Castillo de Bobadilla: Política para Corregidores. Erstausgabe: Madrid 1597.

Datum: 06.06.2018

Uhrzeit: 14:30 – 16:00

Organisation: Christiane Birr

Ort: Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte

Raum: Vortragssaal des MPIeR

Im Juni-Treffen des Salamanca-Kolloquiums stellen José Luis Egío und Pedro Henrique Ribeiro ihre Arbeit zum Thema „Scandalum und Menschenrechte“ vor. Die Vortragssprache ist Deutsch.

José Luis Egío studierte Philosophie und Europäisches Recht in Murcia, Padua, Salamanca und Genf. Er promovierte an der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Murcia und arbeitet derzeit an einer weiteren Promotion am Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas an der Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Er ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter des Akademienprojekts „Die Schule von Salamanca“ und assoziierter Wissenschaftler am Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte.

Pedro Henrique Ribeiro studierte Sozialwissenschaften an der Universität zu Sao Paulo (USP) und Rechtswissenschaften an der Katholischen Universität Sao Paulos (PUC-SP). Er ist DAAD-Fellow und promoviert am Institut für Öffentliches Recht der Goethe-Universität (Lehrstuhl für Öffentliches Recht, Recht und Theorie der Medien).

(English) Presentation of the Digital Edition Platform of the Project „The School of Salamanca“: Francisco de Vitoria’s „Confessionario“

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As a result of several years of working on the digital edition of texts of the School of Salamanca, and although the edition still is (and will remain) a ‚work in progress‘, the School of Salamanca project will officially release its digital edition as an online portal for research on the texts of the School of Salamanca on 9 May 2018.

The release of the digital edition will take place within the scope of a workshop on the Confessionario Útil y Provechoso by Francisco de Vitoria, one of the texts in the central group of works of the digital edition, and a work that is already edited to a great extent following the project’s extensive text preparation and annotation processes.

Following the discussion of Vitoria’s ‚Confessionario‘, the project will present the web application of the digital edition by means of a small ‚tech demo‘, during which the web application’s functionalities shall be explained by taking the example of the previously discussed work.

Organization: The ‚School of Salamanca‘ Project
Place: Max Planck Institute for European Legal History
Date & time: 9 May 2017, 18.00-19.30

– Christiane Birr: Introduction
– José Luis Egío Garcia: Epitomisation Processes and the Historiography on Vitoria’s „Confesionario“
– Manuela Bragagnolo: Epitomizing Knowledge between Portugal and Spain. On Martin de Azpilcueta’s „Manual de Confessores“
– David Glück / Andreas Wagner: The Online Edition of The School of Salamanca as a Digital Research Platform
(The papers will be complemented by further discussions involving the audience.)