Surprisingly, Fritz Kern (1884-1950) has never been studied closely although his work is well-known among medieval scholars. Not only across the English-speaking world, but also in Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, Russia and many regions beyond, Kern is a familiar name in the history of the Middle Ages. His position within the history of humanities, however, is less known.
Along with Friedrich Meinecke, Kern was among the principal initiators of the historiographical innovation which came to be known as Geistesgeschichte, a German version of the history of ideas that was based upon the specific circumstances and notions of the German Zeitgeist around 1900. Later, Kern turned towards a universal history approach, but his distinguished status, great influence and international resonance stem from his early medievalist works introducing the new patterns of Geistesgeschichte to the international constitutional historiography of the Middle Ages. Among other achievements, he conceptualized and established a near-legendary doctrine on the “good old law” (das gute alte Recht). Although its title refers to the good old law, the study is not primarily focused on legal historiography, seeking instead to explain Kern’s thoughts and work on a larger scale. By comprehensively examining his intellectual approach and its objects for the first time, the volume aims to elucidate the impressive and international success of Kern’s thinking.
Fritz Kern und das gute alte Recht. Geistesgeschichte als neuer Zugang für die Mediävistik, Frankfurt a. M. : Klostermann, 2016 (= Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte; 302)