David Ponwitz
© David Ponwitz

David Ponwitz

University of Bonn
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Research Associate in Research Area 
Niebuhrstraße 5
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 / (0)228 / 73 62571


Asymmetrical Dependency in Early Merovingian Gaul - a Pluralistic Perspective on Early Medieval Normativity

My project focuses on how varieties of normative phenomena helped to create and maintain strong asymmetrical dependencies in 6th century Francia. Drawing on the concept of legal pluralism as an analytical tool, my aim is to understand how a plethora of social and ethnical identities during what has been termed the "transformation" from the Roman Empire to the successor kingdom of Merovingian Gaul was reflected in various normative ideas of people's status. My focus thus lies on how norms were conceptually institutionalised and thus established as law through normative discourse, be it in what might have been legislation (i.e. Lex Salica, Capitularies) or formal legal formulae but also in literary sources, the latter perhaps being our only snapshots of actual legal practice. On the macro level, I intend to compare potentially conflicting societal paradigms such as Catholicism, the heritage of Roman law and culture and ideas of original Frankish governance as normative points of orientation. This is then to be compared to actual conflicts on the micro level where people are situated or need to situate themselves within different social settings.

The project is meant not only to challenge modern notions of a clear-cut social status strictly devised "top-down" by means of legislation but also to suggest potential substitutes for how people framed their normative ideas on social stratification in order to achieve what they envisioned to promote social cohesion.


  • 2019–2020                 MLitt in Legal and Constitutional Studies, focus on medieval legal history, University of St. Andrews, UK
  • 2018–2019                 Additional Studies in Protestant Theology
  • 2018                             Second State Examination in Law (Ass. iur)
  • 2009–2019                 Magister Iuris/First State Examnation in Law, Universities of Münster and Bonn, Germany

Academic Positions

  • 2021–present            Research Associate with Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (directly affiliated with Prof. Dr. Schermaier)
  • 2020                            Research Assistant, Roman Law and Comparative Legal History, University of Bonn, Germany 
  • 2015–2019                Research Assistant, Criminal Law and Legal Philosophy, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2013–2015                Student Assistant, Roman Law and Comparative Legal History, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2012                            Student Assistant, Private Law, Corporate Law and Labour Law, University of Siegen, Germany
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