For some years now, research has turned increasingly to the history of the European monarchy. Only recently, the theory of a continuous decline of the monarchy since the French Revolution of 1789 was fundamentally challenged. The monarchies had been a historical phenomenon of previously underestimated flexibility and efficiency, which was able to assert itself in the age of constitutionalism and parliamentarianism, and even to stabilize in the 19th century. The aim of the academy project is to examine the thesis on the “reinvention of the monarchy” in the 19th century from a European and global perspective. Using the Prussian example, it addresses the problem of adapting the monarchy as a specific political culture to a changing society in order to make its effective integration achievements, but also its limits, tangible.
For the last third of the nineteenth century, the dichotomy of a non-national Prussian state, which is conspicuous in a European comparison, and, since 1871/1889, the functions of a national court will have to be clarified. The focus of the examination is initially on courtly structures and the monarchic practice of rule in Prussia, followed in particular by the representative and political dimensions of monarchic rule and its strategies and reactions to social change. In addition to the dimension of integration and disintegration, the emotional history of the late Prussian monarchy comes into play. The aim of the project is to create for the first time a large multi-volume edition work for a European example, which provides unprinted sources on the history of the monarchy for international and comparative research from 1786 to 1918. Such a work does not exist for any of the European monarchies.
The archival tradition of the Prussian monarchy, which is rarely used in general, is extraordinarily good, but it is characterized by the fact that there is no single closed source corpus on the subject. It is rather the case that such a reference work, which is to be compiled from the collections of a wide variety of archives for research, is first put together for editorial purposes. The holdings of the Secret State Archives of Prussian Cultural Heritage in Berlin-Dahlem, where numerous unprinted sources from the official tradition of the Prussian monarchy and personal estates have been handed down, are particularly relevant for this purpose. In addition to the print edition volumes, the project will also make its research data available to the interested public online in digitally edited form. The project, submitted by Wolfgang Neugebauer (BBAW) and Monika Wienfort (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Bergische Universität Wuppertal), has a duration of twelve years.