FNZGIS - Historical Information System on the World of Central European States in Early Modern Times

Research project in cooperation with Dr. Andreas Kunz, Mainz, funded by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, Essen, in the funding period 2016-2019

The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was already an intellectual imposition and challenge for its contemporaries. Neither an absolute central state nor a confederation of states, the abundance of different territorial structures with their diverse regional characteristics is very large. After a long phase of historiography, in which the functionality and ability to act of this empire was judged negatively, the researches of the last years have created a much more differentiated picture.

Nevertheless, a reliable historical-geographical basis of this state is still missing for further research, for school lessons and for general information for those interested in history. Either historical atlases are available on a relatively large scale, but they only cover one current federal state or region, or inadequate, small-scale overview maps whose range is also limited. The problem you regularly come across with project ideas is that you don't actually have a comprehensive map basis of the territories of the Old Kingdom. Especially for comparisons of a larger number of territories, the following project aims to provide a reliable and as exact an overview as possible of the internal territorial structure of the entire Old Kingdom and its neighbouring states as a basis for further research.

The project proposed here complements the HGIS Germany project funded by the Krupp Foundation from 2004 to 2008, in which the state worlds of Germany and Central Europe were presented on interactive surfaces with the aid of a geographical information system (GIS) between 1820 and 1914. The FNZGIS will therefore also focus on finding and interactively querying states and groups of states in GIS-based maps (=GIS interfaces) on two levels:

  1. World of Central European states in the early modern era - interactive access to more than 300 states from 1648 in their development until 1806 and 1820, respectively The complexity of territorial relations - especially in the area of the Old Kingdom - makes a yearly sequence impossible. Therefore, GIS surfaces are to be created for five time sections: 1648, 1791, 1803, 1806, 1810 (or: 1812), with whose help territorialization becomes graspable as a development process of the early modern era. For the understanding of this process of an increasing cumulation of spatial rights and the increasing access to people and resources, this comprehensive, precise and reliable map basis is a great step forward.
  2. Rewriting of the territorial development of the 40 states of the German Confederation and other Central European states appearing in HGIS Germany for the initial year 1820. In particular, interactive maps (so-called time difference maps) or videos of the territorial developments are to be used. Videos of this kind can now be created directly from the GIS program ArcGIS used in the project. They give a multimedia dimension that was not yet available in 2004-2008 when working on HGIS Germany. In the time difference maps/videos, additional time sections can also be considered, for example 1521, 1618, 1755, so that the total period 1500 to 1820 is taken into account here.