GENS: Group terminology and Ethnic Nomenclature: a Semantic database (Latin Europe c. 400-1200)

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(Last update May 16, 2019)

The database GENS offers a selection of more than 4.200 passages derived from Latin works of varied genres, which were written in Latin Europe between 400 and 1200 and are available in modern editions. All these passages provide examples of the use and understanding of ethnic terminology or ethnonyms. In some cases, the selected extracts contain reflections on the different meanings that apparently similar ethnic terms carried, as, for instance, the discussions on the difference between the words natio, gens and genus contained within works of grammatical purpose. To an extent, these terms could be used as synonyms, but their uses may also follow the distinctions stressed by both contemporary and ancient grammarians.

A relevant bulk of entries of the database focuses on the notion of Romanness in the Middle Ages by recording all the occurrences of gens romana, as well as the most relevant of civis romanus. Moreover, it is hoped that phrasings such as natio gentium, which recur among the items recorded in the database, will support further research on the understanding and employment of such complex terms.

The database GENS is a work in progress and will be continuously enriched. For up-to-date, detailed information about the items included in the database, as well as for the criteria leading to the selection of the recorded passages please look at the Information page. There you can also find practical tips on how to search the database.

The research leading to these results initially received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement No. 269591: SCIRE - Social Cohesion, Identity and Religion in Europe, 400-1200. Currently, the database GENS is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) within the SFB-project VISCOM: Visions of Community.