Regesta - past & present

Reinhold Röhricht (Bunzlau, 1842 - Berlin, 1905) was renowned in his time as the most prominent German historian of the crusades. His monumental 1,105-page Geschichte des Königreichs Jerusalem (Innsbruck, 1898) attests to an immense knowledge of the kingdom's history, and present-day scholars may still profit by consulting it. His other major works are Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kreuzzüge (2 vols, Berlin 1874-78), Scriptores quinti belli sacri (Geneva, 1879), Testimonia minora quinti belli sacri (Geneva, 1882), Bibliotheca geographica Palaestinae (Berlin, 1890) and Die Deutschen im Heiligen Lande (Innsbruck, 1894). Despite these major achievements Röhricht never attained a university position and made his living by teaching Religion, Hebrew, German, Latin and Greek at various high schools.

The Regesta regni Hierosolymitani (Innsbruck, 1893) is yet another of Röhricht's major works; it presents the summaries of 1,519 documents and letters written in the Frankish Levant between 1097 and 1292, or sent there from Europe. In his introduction, Röhricht expressed the hope that the book would do for the history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem what the Gesta Imperii by Johann Friedrich Böhmer (1795-1863) had done for the history of the medieval Empire. He explained that his summaries are in Latin, not so much because most of the documents and letters are in that language but on account of the fact that in many cases the terms appearing in them could not be adequately translated into another tongue. Röhricht compiled also most useful indices of names, places and topics, and added a glossary. In 1904, a year before his death, he published a companion volume, Additamentum; it contains further documents or re-edited ones that came to his knowledge in the meantime. The Regesta regni Hierosolymitani and the Additamentum became almost immediately an indispensable tool of research for students of the Frankish Levant. They were reprinted by Burt Franklin in 1960.

Benjamin Z. Kedar






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