Persona, Politics, and Personnel through the Lens of Digital Prosopography

SFB F9200 ManMAX

Progress in historical research depends on the exploitation of new sources. While nineteenth-century historians concentrated on structural and administrative changes during Maximilian’s reign, recent studies have tended to focus on the Emperor’s personality and agency, presented him as a monomaniacal politician or patron of artistic and cultural productions, as a master of media manipulation and impresario of his own self-image and political strategy. Accounts of Maximilian’s so-called works of fame often present him as the one who conceived, commissioned, arranged, and supervised all the related artistic activities. Yet Maximilian was not the only genius behind this textual, musical and visual propaganda, nor was he the sole designer of his own politics. Where earlier accounts overemphasised Maximilian’s personal share in the conception and execution of his reign, modern scholars have often neglected his crucial interactions with those who implemented his rule. Even though studies on Maximilian have never denied the importance of relationships between the actors involved in his reign, they have generally failed to view his politics and government as the result of networks of individuals, and to examine their workings by using the tools of prosopography.

ManMAX presents a fresh approach to Maximilian’s reign, and to pre-modern rulership and governance more broadly. It systematically investigates all levels of his administration, not only the council or elite functionaries, others with personal bonds to the ruler, or the relatives and intimates of those at the highest political level. It considers all agents of Maximilian’s extensive rule who are named in the central documentation generated by his chanceries, ranging from high-ranking members of his household down to muleteers.

Short presentation of aims and goals of the SFB (Powerpoint with voiceover)


The SFB, which will run in a first period from March 1, 2023 to February 28, 2027, aims for a total of eight years at a comprehensive prosopographical analysis of Maximilian’s reign based on new principles for the interdisciplinary selection and assessment of sources.

One of its central research products will be an open-access dataset, which will include an estimated 200,000 persons and the nature of their interactions, presented in detailed digests according to the editorial guidelines of the Regesta Imperii series. The sheer mass of this material represents an entirely new dimension in Maximilian research. This dataset will provide the basis for detailed thematic studies.

ManMAX aims to surmount compartmentalisation by profoundly connecting and integrating several related aspects. Its concept transgresses anachronistic disciplinary boundaries while maintaining a disciplinary depth of field and includes eight tightly interlocking subprojects. They will draw on the dataset as a central and binding research tool, while contributing to its constant expansion and optimisation.

The broad interdisciplinary arrangement of the team ensures that the approaches of individual disciplines are optimally interlinked:

Armouring Maximilian – Chivalry, tournament, and the culture of the gift at the court of Maximilian

PI:Stefan Krause | Kunsthistorisches Museum, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer

(Con)Textualising Maximilian – Interaction and intertextuality, visible and invisible networks in Latin literature from the circle of Maximilian

PI: Elisabeth Klecker | Universität Wien, Institut für Klassische Philologie, Mittel- Neulatein

Creating Maximilian – Cultural networks for the production of text and images around Maximilian

PI: Stephan Müller  |  Universität Wien, Institut für Germanistik

Depicting Maximilian – Collaborative structures behind the imagery of Maximilian

PI:Christof Metzger | Albertina

Digitising Maximilian – Digital humanities and the prosopographical approach towards the reign of Maximilian

PI:  Georg Vogeler | Universität Graz, Zentrum für Informatiosmodellierung – Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities

Gendering Maximilian – Gendered Dimensions of Court Organisation and Representation

PI: Christina Lutter | Universität Wien, Institut für Geschichte/Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung

Singing Maximilian – Musical and cultural networks at court and beyond

PI: Birgit Lodes | Universität Wien, Institut für Musikwissenschaft

Writing Maximilian – Prince, Pen and Penmanship – Uses of Writing at Court and in the Chancery

PI:Andreas Zajic| Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Institut für Mittelalterforschung