The project focuses on the imperial power to grant clemency as a widely neglected and disregarded component of the Holy Roman Empire’s political system. This study converges on the examination of supplications which were filed at the Aulic Council by subjects both as individuals and as groups formed for the occasion. By means of transnational cooperation, supplications dating from the rule of Emperor Rudolf II (1576-1612) are systematically collected and included in a database, thereby making them available to a wider public. The texts do not only expose the emperor’s authoritative power over the imperial estates, which has already been studied abundantly, but also over the indirectly governed population. The examination centres on the reconstruction, analysis and interpretation of action patterns between the emperor and his subjects.
Methodically, the project follows the approaches of a cultural history of politics, which have been amply discussed over recent years, thus connecting and interrelating research on early modern supplications with studies on monarchic forms of government and their institutional frameworks. The project has been divided into two different sections in order to gain a deeper insight into the political communication of the time. As a result, the significance of semantic attributions conveyed through supplications as acts of communication can be deduced from both the perspective of subjects who filed supplications and from the perspective of the imperial addressee.