START Project "Monastic Enlightenment and the Benedictine Republic of Letters" (2008-2014)

In November 2007, one of eight START Awards of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) was granted to the project "Monastic Enlightenment and the Benedictine Republic of Letters" (No. Y-390). The applicant and principal investigator was Thomas Wallnig, who led the project from inception on April 1, 2008, to its conclusion on December 31, 2014. At various stages, the project group included a total of ten researchers and one non-academic collaborator. The hosting institutions were the History Department at the University of Vienna, and the Austrian Institute of Historical Research.

Gruppenbild der Projektgruppe, Juli 2011

The main aim of the project was the scholarly edition of the learned correspondence of Bernhard and Hieronymus Pez, Benedictine monks and historians at the Abbey of Melk in the early 18th century. It built on previous work done in FWF Project "The Learned Correspondence of the Brothers Pez, 1709–1715" (No. P-16940), within which Thomas Stockinger and Thomas Wallnig, under the direction of Prof. Winfried Stelzer of the Austrian Institute of Historical Research, had published roughly one fifth of the extant Pez letters between 2004 and 2008. "Monastic Enlightenment" completed the second volume of the edition, published in 2015, and catalogued and transcribed the materials for the remaining volumes. Completion of the final volumes is among the goals of the successor project "Benedictines, Church Reform, and the State in Austria, 1720–1740", beginning in January 2016.

The "Monastic Enlightenment" project also accomplished other goals in both research and dissemination of results. The papers of the brothers Pez, preserved in the archives and the library of the Abbey of Melk, were completely digitised, catalogued and made available online in an Open Access database. The international symposium "Historia as Culture" was held in 2010, and its proceedings appeared as an edited volume in 2012. The members of the project also helped organise or participated in numerous other academic conferences and events both in Austria and internationally. Teaching materials for secondary education (in German) were prepared in order to make project-related topics accessible in a school context, and remain available for download.