Karl Ferdinand Werner RIP

This a rather belated notice, but I only found out a few days ago that the early medieval historian Karl Ferdinand Werner died on 9th December 2008. He was 84. Le Monde has an obituary (behind a paywall), and I’ve also found another brief summary of his work.

When I think of the works of his I’m read, I’m most struck by the variety of his research interests. His main focus was on the Carolingian and post-Carolingian nobility, but he also wrote on region of Prüm, was the first person (as far as I know) to suggest that Charlemagne wasn’t born in 742 and produced what is still one of the classic articles on Carolingian administration (K. F. Werner. ‘Missio-Marchio-Comes. Entre l’administration centrale et l’administration locale de l’empire Carolingien.’ in W. Paravicini and K. F. Werner (eds.), Histoire compare de l’administration (IVe – XVIIe Siècles). Actes du XIVe Colloque Historique Franco-Allemand de L’institut Historique Allemand de Paris, (Munich, 1980), pp. 191-239). His views could be rather implausible at times (like his claim that the poem Waltharius was written by Ermoldus Nigellus) and at an early stage in my academic career, when I struggled through his book Naissance de la noblesse (Paris, 1998), I was impressed and infuriated in equal measure. But not only in his research, but in founding the journal Francia and as the head of the German Institute in Paris, he played an important role in internationalising the study of the Carolingian period, by connecting German and French early medievalists together.

4 thoughts on “Karl Ferdinand Werner RIP

  1. I have very similar reactions to you, Magistra; I’ve been very annoyed by parts of his work (not least ‘Missus—Marchio—Comes‘, which summarises the whole Empire brilliantly and fits no single part of it completely) at the same time as finding their coverage and knowledge, and also their synthesis, jaw-droppingly accomplished. There’s loads of his stuff on my reading list. I shall read it with extra nuance now. Thanks for posting this.


  2. Wikipedia article on Pepin’s de Vermandois (born circa 815) wife’s name is unknown, and that K.F. Werner states that he may have been married to a daughter of Theodoric Nibelung. Does anyone know the source for this?


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