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9781421445793
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9781421445793
English
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6.00 Inches (US)
$60.00 USD, £44.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Maker of Pedigrees

Jakob Wilhelm Imhoff and the Meanings of Genealogy in Early Modern Europe

A history of genealogical knowledge-making strategies in the early modern world.

In The Maker of Pedigrees, Markus Friedrich explores the complex and fascinating world of central European genealogy practices during the Baroque era. Drawing on archival material from a dozen European institutions, Friedrich reconstructs how knowledge about noble families was created, authenticated, circulated, and published. Jakob Wilhelm Imhoff, a wealthy and well-connected patrician from Nuremberg, built a European community of genealogists by assembling a transnational network of cooperators and informants. Friedrich uses Imhoff as a case study in how knowledge was produced and disseminated during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Family lineages were key instruments in defining dynasties, organizing international relations, and structuring social life. Yet in the early modern world, knowledge about genealogy was cumbersome to acquire, difficult to authenticate, and complex to publish. Genealogy's status as a source of power and identity became even more ambivalent as the 17th century wore on, as the field continued to fragment into a plurality of increasingly contradictory formats and approaches. Genealogy became a contested body of knowledge, as a heterogeneous set of actors—including aristocrats, antiquaries, and publishers—competed for authority. Imhoff was closely connected to all of the major genealogical cultures of his time, and he serves as a useful prism through which the complex field of genealogy can be studied in its bewildering richness.

About the Author

Markus Friedrich (HAMBURG, DE) is a professor of early modern European history. He is the author of The Birth of the Archive: A History of Knowledge and The Jesuits: A History.

Endorsements

"Markus Friedrich uses the working life and knowledge practices of an otherwise obscure late seventeenth-century author of genealogical publications, Jakob Wilhelm Imhoff, to probe how genealogical knowledge about Europe's nobilities was constructed. On the basis of masterful research, Friedrich makes intriguing arguments about our understanding of what constitutes a 'family,' about genealogy and self-representation, about the ceremonial and performative behavior of distinction, and about historical narrativity at a critical point in the history of historiography."

- Randolph C. Head, University of California, Riverside, author of Making Archives in Early Modern Europe: Proof, Information and Political Recordkeeping, 1400-1700

"In his erudite new book, Markus Friedrich shows how early modern scholars and librarians created genealogical archives. Historians of politics and information will need to read Friedrich's brilliant study to see how these early searchable databases became essential foundations of political authority."

- Jacob Soll, University of Southern California

"Markus Friedrich's remarkable study of the Nuremberg genealogist extraordinaire Jakob Wilhelm Imhoff shows how the early modern skills of tracing noble lineages had enduring consequences for how historians weighed evidence, lawyers construed inheritance, courts decided on royal succession, and families understood who did and did not belong."

- Lorraine Daston, Director emerita, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

"With crystalline prose, Markus Friedrich has produced the first book-length history of an individual genealogist's labors. With his vivid, close-up examinations of Imhoff's social networks, the contents of his books, and his processes—down to scissors and glue—Friedrich has made a powerful contribution to understanding knowledge formation and elite social status."

- Francesca Morgan, author of A Nation of Descendants: Politics and the Practice of Genealogy in U.S. History

"Markus Freidrichs' book provides fascinating insights into the making of the genealogical matrix that is so central to Western politics and culture. It is the first in-depth study of the procedures, materials, sites, networks, and epistemic cultures involved in the work of a genealogist in early modern Europe."

- Simon Teuscher, University of Zurich
Johns Hopkins University Press
Information Cultures
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Hardback
April 4, 2023
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