Early medieval writing formulae in western Europe

Formulae, or templates for charters and letters, document the diversity of early medieval scholarly writing in western Europe prior to the 11th century. Mostly transmitted in collections, they attest the linguistic shift that took place between late antiquity and medieval times and contain information crucial for social, economic and legal history as well as for the history of culture and of mentalities.


  • A new critical edition of the early medieval formulae which will be published in print and via a digital infrastructure that will make it possible to investigate formulaic writing, on the basis of letters and charters, in western Europe prior to the invention of the Ars dictaminis

Project Description

The project is dedicated to the systematic examination of these formulae, critically editing, annotating and translating them and the exploration of formulaic writing. It thus stands at the interface between the disciplines of history, Latin philology and legal history.

The new edition will appear in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) and will also be available in digital form. In addition, a publicly accessible database including an electronic lexicon will be produced in the context of the project. This will facilitate further studies on formulaic writing in the early medieval period and allow comparison with other charters and letters, providing an important tool for further research.


The Long-term Project is funded in the framework of the Academies Programme, which is coordinated by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities.

The Long-term Project is carried out in cooperation with the Universität Hamburg in the History Department of the Faculty of Humanities.

Key facts
Complete title of the Long-term Project:

Formulae – Litterae – Chartae. New edition of the early medieval formulae with an exploration and analysis of early medieval letters and charters in western Europe (c. 500 – c. 1000)


Prof. Dr. Philippe Depreux


12.01.2017 bis 31.12.2031

For more information:

Project flyer

Project website

Project film

Project film with German Sign Language Synchronisation

The AGATE Portal (research information system of the Academies of Sciences and Humanities)


Project Formulae – Litterae – Chartae

Fakultät für Geisteswissenschaften, Fachbereich Geschichte
Universität Hamburg
Überseering 35#5, Raum 00100
22297 Hamburg

Dr. Horst Lößlein
Research Assistant
Email: horst.loesslein(at)uni-hamburg.de
Tel.: +49 40 42838 2690