Supporting Sovereign Decision Making: Experts and Their Knowledge in a Transcultural and and Comparative Perspective

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesInvited talk


Plenary Address: Royalty and Divine Communication in Didactic Writings of the Western Church c.1050-1200 [jointly hosted by the Research Group 'Medieval' and the Institut für Byzantinistik hosting the conference]

This conference aims at investigating which resources were available to pre-modern rulers in their decision-making duties. Through their knowledge, advisors and experts could assist the sovereign in taking decisions. Therefore, they took part in councils and thus were able to indicate solutions to problems and influence decisions. In so doing, they based their expertise on various resources of knowledge, amongst which the exact sciences (astronomy, astrology, as well as observations on natural phenomena like thunders and earthquakes) played an essential role. Normative and narrative sources refer to those sciences in many ways. In the frame of this conference, the various modes of decision making in the areas of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Arab world, and the Far East come under consideration. The transmission of specialized knowledge and its evaluation in the decision-making process led by the sovereign / (absolute) ruler / monarch is also addressed in comparison with similarly structured societies of pre-modern times. The main questions addressed are: What kind of knowledge was available and suitable for supporting/backing the process of decision-making? What role or function did experts assume? Was there any organized way of consultation in the various ruling/power centres? In which fields was this backing/expertise utilized (e.g. military or administration)? To what extent was the ruler/sovereign dependent on or influenced by those resources? Were there (any) strategies for keeping knowledge under control?
Period16 May 201818 May 2018
Event typeConference
LocationMünster, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational