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Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung

Vierteljahresschrift zur Erforschung des Spätmittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit

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Quarterly on Research of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age

The Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung is the only German-language journal that concentrates on the epochs of the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Age. It is published in four issues per year. In addition to essay articles, it offers current research reports and an extensive review section on a regular basis. A topic-oriented supplement is published with it twice per year.

The journal´s concept was developed by Johannes Kunisch, Peter Moraw and Volker Press at the beginning of the 1970s. The editors founded the first German-language publication forum that is dedicated to the Old European Age from the 12th to the early 19th century. When the journal was established in 1974, it was still possible to write that this middle epoch in Germany – unlike in England, France and America – has much less attention paid to it than the two »adjoining fringe epochs« of the 8th-12th century on the one hand and the 19th-20th century on the other hand. This has clearly changed in the meantime. The Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Age have not only become the object of intensive research but also an experimental field for innovative approaches.

This concept by the ZHF is based on the idea of discussing the history of the European Pre-Modern Period from the High Middle Ages to the Reformation and up to the revolutionary Saddle Period around 1800 as a structural unit. From the start, this was about including theoretic suggestions from the related sciences but simultaneously examining the methodical-theoretic instruments that have been acquired through the modern, differentiated industrial society for the disparate pre-modern phenomena. This concept of Old Europe – despite critical objections – has proved to be extremely sustainable and fertile in recent decades. Both the constitutional-historical and socio-historical structural elements such as the social classes and the findings of conceptual history – as revealed by the handbook »Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe« – speak for an epochal and spatial correlation of Old Europe. Since the 1980s, the new cultural history has also contributed to emphasizing the structural commonalities between the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age, as well as sharpening the consciousness for the foreignness of the epoch.

In a methodical and factual sense, the ZHF illustrates the diversity of German-language historical scholarship during the past three-and-a-half decades. It has a stable core in the area of political and constitutional history, but it has always been just as open to contributions from the history of religion, science and ideas, as well as from the legal, social and economic history. It also opened up to the cultural turnaround of the 1980s, but without relinquishing the field to it. The ZHF offers a mutual forum for the debates of old and new controversial research branches such as the history of the imperial constitution, patronage research, ritual history or historical pictorial science.

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