Prof. Dr. Ludolf Pelizaeus


Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Room: 2.003
Niebuhrstr. 5
D-53113 Bonn

Pelizaeus, Ludolf .jpg
© Barbara Frommann

Academic Profile

A history of human trafficking in the early modern period in the Holy Roman Empire

The work is intended to be a survey on interdisciplinary research and the different levels of asymmetrical dependencies with the aim of summarizing different research on human trafficking in the Holy Roman Empire from XVIth to early XIXth century. As an approach, it is assumed that the study should be understood simultaneously as a history of developments and a history of ideas. The base for allowing the disposal of people was a system of reciprocal asymmetrical dependencies based on inner dependencies. Therefore, the project aims to shed light on the different levels of narratives and the actions that follow from them. Using the example of human trafficking in particular, it is possible to show power asymmetries between persons who are not granted the same capacities to participate in the process of finding a place to work and live. Power and participation are thus inextricably linked. Through unequal relations between "local" actors on the one hand and state and territorial decision-makers on the other, a network was developed that influenced many areas of life in the early modern period (Barnaud, d'Aquino, Daré, Mathevet).

Since a survey work is planned, subchapters for the individual research results have to be explained: First of all, some financial aspects have to be exploited more. Even if research has shown (Magnus Ressel, Cornel Zwierlein; Wolfgang Kaiser) that it was precisely in the North German cities that a huge network of insurance policies was established, which made it possible to cover endangered travelers who could end up in North African captivity, we do not know enough about church collections to free – or to pretend to free – people from captivity. A lot of money was also invested on another field, in the so-called "soldier trade". Either there was direct violence (Pröve) in the recruitment process, or promises were made that were later not kept (Bräker), or the specific economic situation in certain areas of Germany, Austria or Switzerland hardly allowed any other choice (Jaun). The last point in particular should be emphasized, since such "voluntary" entry into soldiering (Gräf) was by no means a matter of equal power balances. In recent years, a number of studies have emerged on the presence of Africans in German armies (Honeck, Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Mallinckrodt; starting point Fenwick). However, aspects have not yet been brought to light, such as the view beyond Hesse-Kassel and Prussia or the fate of African-born soldiers who went to Hesse after the American War of Independence and the references to the village in the park of Mulang (later Wilhelmshöhe) and the investigations of Thomas Sömmering, who was only able to carry out the autopsies and thus his theses on the "inferiority of the Negro" because of the presence of these persons of African origin. And we know still almost nothing about the entanglement of the soldier trade and the reinvestment of this money in London. Through to Rothschild bank, managed by Buderus the Landgrave of Hessia was able to reinvest money, which he recivied for hiring soldiers to England and the Netherlands, both countries deeply involved to Slave trade. More links on the different levels have to be discovered.

The asymmetrical dependency also included the sale of people on the galleys practiced by many German territories and thus the participation of German institutions in a network of dependency. Therefore, within dependency studies, research premises relating to convict labour and the exploitation of dependency relationships – sometimes through serfdom - will be included into our research. Furthermore, trafficking in human beings can be traced in the area of trafficking in corpses, whether for pharmaceutical or anatomical purposes, but this aspect has been quite well examined already (Groebner). Dissymmetrical directions, on the other hand, can be found especially in the sale of prisoners of war. For this group of prisoners, there is a fluid transition between employment in hard physical labour and the status as service personnel, which, however, never changes anything about the fundamental condition of asymmetrical dependence. Nevertheless, we still know far too little about numbers, places of origin, areas of deployment of these people. As far as the number of prisoners goes who were used for the work in large estates, we do not possess all sufficient information yet.
More research has also to be undertaken also on the sale of serfs from princely dominions, of children and on the for trafficking of women, for whom we know more for the 19th century which can’t be said for the early modern period.

In order to link different studies on slavery and dependent labour in the early modern period with older studies, it is crucial to bring together the entanglement that has emerged in the network of human trafficking in the German-speaking area and to complete it with extensive further research.

Qualification by the National Council of Universities (CNU, France) for History and German Studies

Habilitation and Venia legendi in Modern and Contemporary History

Ph.D. in Modern History Studies, University of Mainz, Germany

M.A. in Modern History, History of Arts and German Anthropology, University of Mainz, Germany

Studies of History, History of Arts and German Anthropology at Freiburg, Mainz, Würzburg (Germany), Dijon (France) and Salamanca (Spain)

since 2014
full Professor for Cultural and intellectual History of German Speaking lands, University of Picardy, Amiens, France

Researcher at the Institute for European History (Mainz) and at the University of Bonn, department of Contemporary and
Economic History

Extraordinary Professor for Early Modern History, University of Mainz (außerplanmäßiger Professor)

Chair in Modern and General History, University of Graz (Austria)

Invited Fellow at the National University of Ireland, Galway

Chair in Modern and General History, Mainz (Lehrstuhlvertretung)

Assistent Professor, Mainz (Hochschuldozent)

Research Fellow Spain

Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, Mainz 

  • 2021. Les villes des Habsbourg du XVe au XIXe siècle. Communication, art et pouvoir dans les réseaux urbains. Reims, EPURE.
  • 2019. Italien – Mainz – Vukovar. Die Familien von Eltz und von Stadion im Kulturtransfer, Kirche als Kulturträger», Die Rolle der Kirchen im Kulturtransfer des mittleren und östlichen Europa. Elisabeth Brunert, Andras Forgó et Arno Strohmeyer (dir.). Münster, Aschendorff, p. 195–216.
  • 2017. Landgraf Carl als Gegenbild, Vorbild oder Rivale ? Ernst-Ludwig von Hessen-Darmstadt zwischen Hessen-Kassel, Frankreich und dem Kaiser, Landgraf Carl. Fürstliches Planen und Handeln zwischen Innovation und Tradition. Ed. par Holger Th. Gräf e.a. Marburg, Historische Kommission, p. 49–60.
  • 2017. Die Ausbreitung der Guerilla als Prozess der Globalisierung von Krieg in der Sattelzeit », Globaler Krieg. Visionen und ihre Umsetzung. Harald Heppner (dir.). Wien, LIT, p. 95–112.
  • 2016. "Zivilisten aus der Sicht der “Generalin”. Friederike Riedesel zu Eisenbach zwischen militärischer und ziviler Gesellschaft im Amerikanische Unabhängigkeitskrieg », Soldats et Civils au XVIIIe siècle : Echanges épistolaires et culturels. Thomas Nicklas et Francois Genton (dir.). Reims, Epuré, p. 65-90.
  • 2016. Formen und Orte der Marginalität in der Frühen Neuzeit In Francoise Knopper (dir.), Das Abseits als Zentrum, (Wissensdiskurse/ Discours et Savoirs, 4), Halle / Saale, Presses universitaires, p. 49–70.
  • 2016. De Christoph Weiditz a Anton de Wyngaerde: Caminos de circulación en la representación de minorías españolas en la Alemania del siglo XVI., Minorías en la España medieval y moderna (ss. XV-XVII)/ Minorities in medieval and early modern Spain (15th-17th c.). Ed. par Rica Amrán & Antonio Cortijo Ocaña. In e-Minorias, p. 145–162, sur :
  • 2014. Gewaltexport zwischen “Ausschaffung” von Straftätern, Soldatenhandel und obrigkeitlichen Interessen an der Wende vom 17. zum 18. Jahrhundert », Söldnerlandschaften – Frühneuzeitliche Gewaltmärkte im Vergleich. Philipp Rogger et Benjamin Hitz (dir.). (Beihefte der Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, No. 49,). Berlin, Duncker und Humblot, p. 243–259.
  • 2012. Räumliche Bezugsebenen: Grenzüberschreitende Strafverfolgung im Oberrheinischen Kreis und der Steiermark bei der Verschickung auf die Galeeren im 18. Jahrhundert. In Wolfgang Wüst / Michael Müller (eds.): Reichskreise und Regionen im frühmodernen Europa – Horizonte und Grenzen im «spatial turn». Bern - Frankfurt (Lang).
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