YAMAMOTO Fumihiko Professor
- History and Area Studies / Occidental History
- Specialized Field
- German Medieval History, German Early Modern History
- Research Subject
- The Constitutional History of the Holy Roman Empire
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Consciousness of space and time in early-modern history brought about by printing technology and a postal system
My research, which started with the multi-layered political structure (the Holy Roman Empire, with the emperor at its top, and its component federations), has developed into an analysis of national systems with expansion in consciousness of space and time. Printing technology was established in the 15th century and mailing routes started to be laid in the 16th century, which promoted the dissemination of maps. How did community members who shared a similar cognizance of their own territory develop their identity, inspired by the awakening of a new consciousness of space brought about by maps, as well as a consciousness of time influenced by mail coach timetables and the clock’s striking of the hours? I’d like to clarify these transitions in internal mindsets.
- Map of the Holly Roman Empire in the 17th century. Maps of mail routes and timetables were posted at local post offices, playing a major role in promoting changes in the consciousness of community members.
- The Peace of Westphalia, conventionally regarded as the death certificate of the Holy Roman Empire: New findings have been achieved through collaborative translation with graduate students.
Re-evaluating documents from an objective perspective,
leading to new interpretations that might change the tide of history
In historical research, the first step is to gather historical documents. This is an age in which we have easy access to all kinds of information right from our desk, but my students are always questioning whether that information comes from reliable sources. The same historical documents when read from different viewpoints can be interpreted in many ways, each yielding quite different results. The greatest pleasure of historical research is the moment when, after re-evaluating historical documents in fields that may have been overlooked in preceding research, as in the case of the above-mentioned postal system, we finally reveal a new historical conception that rewrites the conventional interpretation. Through historical study, I’d like you to develop basic skills that are required in any field: skills for objectively examining the target without being swayed by established theory, for thinking, and for appropriately expressing your own opinion.