GRACEFUL17: Global Governance, Local Dynamics: Transnational Regimes of Grace in the Roman Dataria Apostolica (17th Century)

A cooperative project, Digital Humanities component at DHI Rome

The power of the early modern Catholic Church was based on so-called regimes of grace, which can be described as networks of secular and ecclesiastical influence. The "grace" of a higher authority, such as the Pope, granted certain individuals special privileges, incomes, or benefices. The organization of this allocation of grace was the responsibility of the Apostolic Dataria, an office of the Curia in Rome. They acted as intermediaries between the Pope and recipients scattered across Europe, processing requests, making decisions, and monitoring the distribution of resources. In practice, this meant that governing with the help of papal graces was based on a network of connections and relationships. Individuals who were connected to the Apostolic Dataria or supported by them could benefit from the advantages of the system.
To comprehensively decipher the administrative mechanisms and impacts of such systems, the GRACEFUL17 project employs digital technologies and methods. The aim is to reconstruct the chaotic workplace of early modern bureaucrats and create a research platform that enables access, analysis, and visualization of extensive data from various European archives. The DH team at the DHI Rome will develop a knowledge graph to model this system of grace bureaucracy, building on established semantic ontologies from the field of digital humanities and digital cultural heritage, such as CIDOC CRM. The long-term goal is to create a data foundation for the study of early modern systems of grace not only for the ongoing project but also remains open for the integration of additional sources. The knowledge graph provides a sustainable and flexible basis for relating these and similar historical phenomena in an ontology and making them accessible to computational analyses. The massive amount of these mostly serial sources and the networks and power structures they attest to are an ideal subject for network-theoretical and graph-theoretical simulations and analysis methods.
The Digital Humanities department at the DHI Rome works closely with the international team of GRACEFUL17, which includes early-career researchers and professors. This collaboration of historical research and digital humanities opens up a new perspective on this significant part of early modern European history.
Website of the project:

This project is carried out in cooperation with the following partner institutions:
Goethe-University Frankfurt a.M.
École nationale des chartes (Paris)
École française de Rome
Université de Reims-Champagne-Ardenne

Contacts at the DHI Rome:
Christoph Sander
Jörg Hörnschemeyer