With the rise of nations, nation states, and national languages in the early modern period, Latin, the traditional international language of Europe, found itself caught up in complex negotiations of political identity. Both in the search for a common European identity and the development of modern national identities, Latin was not only a significant medium of discussion but also a topic of considerable emotional weight in its own right. This programm line aims to unravel the role of Latin in this process on a number of levels.


Although Latin remains the official language of the Catholic church today, in the Early Modern Period it had an even greater and more varied importance for religious experience and practice, especially within Christianity. Latin’s reach extended from theology and liturgy to Christian education and the types of personal devotion that found expression, for instance, in calendars of saints and hymn books. In terms of communication, Latin could be used on a more theoretical and intellectual (as e.g. in theological treatises) or on a more emotional and entertaining level (as e.g. in theatre or novels). The former use is aimed at a small group of specialists; the latter at a potentially large audience. The research of the LBI in the programme line Religion has particularly focused on that latter use of Latin as a medium of religious ‘public relations’ ante litteram.


Mentalities can be defined as basic attitudes towards fundamental aspects of human existence such as time, the body or death. These attitudes are usually experienced as the natural and even the only possible way of seeing things by the people who hold them. In reality, however, they are highly culturally determined and can change radically over time. The Early Modern age was, indeed, an age of such dramatic mentality changes: The European mind-set was, broadly speaking, transformed from medieval to modern. One important strand within this complex process concerned the idea of nature: While in earlier times nature tended to be seen as something potentially dangerous and hostile, to be either domesticated or avoided, modernity experiences it as a necessary complement to human culture and as a source of joy and satisfaction.

Neo-Latin Tools

Apart from its thematic programme lines, the LBI also aims to provide basic tools and reference works for the study of Neo-Latin, e.g. catalogues and databases, editions, translations, dictionaries, commentaries, literary histories and surveys. The lack of such basic tools in the young discipline of Neo-Latin studies is often regretted and the mission statement of the LBI calls for some remedy here.


This is not an all-encompassing Neo-Latin database. It is a working tool for documenting and retrieving the information about the works and authors, which the institute members encounter in their research and is as such necessarily highly selective.

To broaden the database and create synergies, we plan to include the biobibliographical data from other projects and institutions.

If you have (or plan to gather) biobibliographical data on Neo-Latin literature which you would like to put online and integrate with other similar data, our database offers an easily accessible system, with the clear identification of data contributed by your project at the front-end and additional functions in our flexible background system. Should you be interested in cooperation, please contact us.

Proceed to the database