Archivum Laureshamense – digital: Virtual Monastic Archive of Lorsch

The once important archives of Lorsch Abbey, like its library, are now scattered to the four winds. Documents and archival records, which are of considerable value for economic, social and personal history, among other things, are stored in numerous archives and libraries in central and southern Germany and, for the most part, still have to be identified on site before they are available to the relevant subjects for systematic research. This is especially true for the period of the later Middle Ages from 1200 onwards and for the early modern period.

With the project "Archivum Laureshamense", the intention is to virtually compile the preserved documents in parallel to the Virtual Monastic Library of Lorsch, thus providing for the first time a useful basis for further research, especially on the hardly known late period of the monastery under the Premonstratensians. In addition, in a first focus project, the Lorsch possessions were made visible in space and time by visualizing the places named in the "Lorsch Codex" on interactive maps.

Already around the year 800, the Lorsch Abbey had reached the greatest extent of its possessions, which reached from the Dutch North Sea coast to Graubünden in what are now six European states. We know this because in the last third of the 12th century the entire monastery archive since the founding of the monastery was put into book form as a collection of excerpts: the famous Lorsch Codex is thus not a book in the true sense of the word, but an archival record, which was still used to clarify property claims into the 15th century.
So far, the rich tradition of the monastery history was mainly reflected in the Lorsch Codex on the one hand, but also in the Lorsch Cartulary, which was created only after the dissolution of the monastery in the 16th century. It contains the texts of legal transactions concerning the economic history of the monastery from the 13th to the 17th century.

The early documents corresponding to the entries in the Lorsch Codex are no longer preserved in the original. The late medieval and early modern documents, on the other hand, are still preserved in larger numbers in private and public archives as well as in church archives, or have survived in edited copies from the 16th to the early 20th century of originals that have since been lost, as earlier research in the 19th century and current research have shown. Their identification and digitization thus represents a decisive step in making the later monastic history of Lorsch visible.

The project (duration 2017-2021) was supported by the administration of Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Hessen. The digitization and the creation of the registers were realized in cooperation with Heidelberg University Library and the Institute for Franconian-Palatinate History and Regional Studies (Prof. Dr. Jörg Peltzer). The georeferencing project for the Lorsch Codex was carried out in cooperation with the Heidelberg interdisciplinary working group Historical GIS - "The HGIS Club".