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From 2015 to 2020 the European Research Council will fund the research project ‘The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and its Slaves’ through a consolidator grant (principal investigator: Rebekka v. Mallinckrodt). The project has created three doctoral and postdoctoral positions and one coordinator position. Over the next few years the team will produce four case studies as well as a complementary quantitative database. The overall aim of the project is to make a systematic contribution to improving our understanding of the extent and meaning of human trafficking into the Holy Roman Empire.

At the same time the project pursues a conceptual discussion of the extent to which (and under which circumstances) it is plausible to speak of slavery in relation to persons trafficked to the Holy Roman Empire and which new perspectives such a discussion opens up for historical research.

Articles and Papers presented since commencement of project:


  • ‘There are no Slaves in Prussia?’, in Felix Brahm/Eve Rosenhaft (eds), Slavery Hinterland. Transatlantic Slavery and Continental Europe, 1680–1850, (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2016), 109–131.


  • ‘“How do the neighbours go about this?” Intra-European knowledge transfer in dealing with trafficked persons in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation during the eighteenth Century’, Paper for the DHI Washington Panel Series ‘Knowledge and Trans-Migrants in Late Holy Roman and Habsburg Empire’ at the German Studies Association Conference, San Diego, California, 29 September–2 October 2016
  • ‘Servants, slaves or serfs? German courts and administrations confronted with trafficked persons in the long eighteenth century’
    Paper for the workshop Domestic Slavery, 15th–19th Centuries: Sources, Cross-Perspectives, and Definitions, EHESS Paris, 24–25 March 2016
  • ‘“No room of one's own?” Über die (Un)Möglichkeit transkultureller Mehrfachzugehörigkeiten von verschleppten Menschen im Heiligen Römischen Reich Deutscher Nation‘ (On the (im)possibility of transcultural multiple belongings for trafficked persons in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation), Paper for the international conference Transkulturelle Mehrfachzugehörigkeiten: Räume, Materialitäten, Erinnerungen (Transcultural Multiple Belongings: Spaces, Materialities, Memories), Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, 4–6 February 2016
  • ‘Sklaverei im Alten Reich – (k)ein Thema?’ (Slavery in the Holy Roman Empire – no issue?), Paper for the Wednesday Evening Lectures, Frankfurt Humanities Research Centre, Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, 27 January 2016
  • ‘Gab es in Deutschland zwischen dem 16. und 18. Jahrhundert Sklaverei?’ (Were there any slaves in sixteenth- to eighteenth-century Germany?), Paper, Haus der Wissenschaft, Bremen, 15 October 2015


This pro­ject has re­ceived fund­ing from the European Re­search Coun­cil (ERC) un­der the European Uni­on’s Ho­ri­zon 2020 re­search and in­nov­a­tion pro­gramme (grant agree­ment No 641110).