DFG/FWF-Project Supplications filed by subjects at the Aulic Council

of Emperor Rudolf II (1576-1612)

Project Sections

Based upon the sources, which have been collected within the first year of the project, the two different aspects of supplications as acts of communication can be scrutinised thoroughly during the second phase of the project and be embedded in a wider and more complex notion of communication. As a result, supplications have to be examined from the perspective of the subjects who filed them and their authorities (project section “Eichstätt”), as well as from the perspective of the imperial addressee (project section “Graz”)

Supplicants’ Courses of Action and the Effects of Supplications in Selected Southern German Towns and Territories

The project section “Eichstätt” approaches supplications as acts of communication from the perspective of indirectly governed subjects and their territorial or communal authorities. The research project examines the communicative and praxeological effects of imperial intervention in selected Southern German towns and territories on the basis of supplicants’ civic status, as well as their social, biographical and statutory situation. Special emphasis is placed upon the perception, reflection and implementation of the imperial judicial and propitiating power, and on normative political discourses on the legitimacy of imperial power.

In addition to the files stored at the Austrian State Archives in Vienna, the project section “Eichstätt” analyses parallel sources from clerical and secular rulers in Franconia, Swabia and Old Bavaria. These sources, which were detected in many different archives, are not only of significance for the research of the legal and constitutional history, they can also be regarded as ego-documents as they contain genuine or fictitious self-descriptions which provide cultural and socio-historical insights into the lives and beliefs of various social groups.

Imperial Judicial and Propitiating Power in actu - the Aspect of the Addressee

The project section “Graz” takes up the general desideratum in scholarly research to add to our random knowledge on the procedural practices of the Aulic Council a detailed investigation of the normative dimensions of the actions carried out by the Aulic Council. The heuristical potentials of a detailed analysis of the discursive and performative procedural components for a cultural history of politics have been demonstrated well enough in recent times.

Analysing the action patterns of subjects who directed their supplications to the emperor is just one aspect of the highly complex supplication system. It has to be kept in mind that the delivery of supplications habitually forced the emperor into action. Consequently, the project section “Graz” considers the question of how and in what manner the Aulic Council dealt with supplications which they had received from subjects and investigates the supplication system in its de facto effects within the procedures of the Aulic Council. The study of this issue will provide insight into the so far only very selectively researched imperial judicial and propitiating power which forms the basis of the supplication system and is displayed therein.