Professor Jürgen Sarnowsky

Contact Details

Historisches Seminar
Universität Hamburg
Von-Melle-Park 6
D-20146 Hamburg


When and where did you initially develop an interest in the history of the crusades and/or the Latin East?

Already during my first semesters at the Freie Universitaet Berlin, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut. I visited a seminar for beginners on the Fourth Crusade and some lectures, later I went to a seminar on war and peace in the Middle Ages.

Who or what sparked your enthusiasm for the subject?

My academic teachers, especially Dietrich Kurze and Kaspar Elm; later my contacts to the materials in the archive of the Teutonic Knights in Berlin (Geheimes Staatsarchiv), to archivists like Bernhart Jaehnig; finally the exchange with scholars like Hartmut Boockmann, Zenon Hubert Nowak, Marian Biskup, Anthony Luttrell, and Jonathan Riley-Smith.


Please provide details of your Higher Education, including dates, institution(s) and the name(s) of your research supervisors.

  • 1975-1981 studying History, Physics and Philosophy at the Freie Universitaet Berlin, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut
  • 1981 first degree as a teacher (History, Physics)
  • 1985 PhD on ‘The Aristotelian and Scholastic Theory of Movement. Studies on the Commentary of Albert of Saxony on Aristotle’s Physics’ (supervisors: Dietrich Kurze; Albert Zimmermann, Cologne)
  • 1992 Habilitation on ‘The Economy of the Teutonic Knights in Prussia, 1382-1454’ (referents: Dietrich Kurze; Hartmut Boockmann, Goettingen

Career History

Please provide details of your academic career history, including confirmation of your current institutional affiliation and contact details.

  • 1982-1987 and 1987-1993 first Mitarbeiter (supervisor: Dietrich Kurze) and then assistant for Medieval History at the Freie Universitaet Berlin, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut
  • 1993 and 1994 ‘Heisenberg’ grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
  • 1993/94 ‘deputy professor’ for Medieval History at Technische Universitaet Chemnitz-Zwickau, Geisteswissenschaftliche Fakultaet
  • 1995/96 ‘deputy professor’ for Medieval History at Universitaet Hamburg, Historisches Seminar
  • since 1996 Professor for Medieval History at Universitaet Hamburg, Historisches Seminar; address: Von-Melle-Park 6, D-20146 Hamburg

Influences and Methodologies

What ideas and/or methodologies have informed your approach to your research?

My main impetus for research on crusades and military orders (as on medieval universities and their teachings) was to find out more about structures and functions of medieval institutions working on an ‘international’ scale and dealing with very different surroundings, because I think that thus even today we can learn more about mechanisms that allow to work together in groups of people with different ethnical, social, cultural and historical background.

I have also always felt the need to concentrate on topics which help to collect knowledge on medieval sources and to promote editions, so that the classical ‘methods’ and ‘auxiliary sciences’ were always important for me. The concentration on the sources helps to get a better understanding of past times.

Research Outlook

What do you consider to be the most important avenues for future research in the field of crusader studies?

In relation to my main ideas and methodological approaches I think that most important for studies on crusades and military orders will be;

  • to concentrate on the ‘international’ character of both phenomena and on their impact on European and Eastern societies;
  • to enlarge our collections of printed and online editions of source materials.

Research Output

Please provide details of your research output, including publications and other media as appropriate.

My publications include books and articles on the Teutonic Knights, the Hospitallers of St John, military orders and crusades in general, regional studies on related areas (Aegean, Baltic), on England and Hamburg, studies on the history of science, history of thought and historiography, also printed and online editions of medieval sources and teaching units for e-Learning; I have added a list of publications.

Selected Monographs

Die Wirtschaftsführung des Deutschen Ordens in Preußen (1382-1454) (= Veröffentlichungen aus den Archiven Preußischer Kulturbesitz, 34), Köln-Weimar-Wien 1993, XX, 918 S.

Macht und Herrschaft im Johanniterorden des 15. Jahrhunderts. Verfassung und Verwaltung der Johanniter auf Rhodos (1421-1522) (Vita regularis, 14), Münster 2001, X, 750 S.

(mit Jyri Hasecker) Stabilimenta Rhodiorum militum. Die Statuten des Johanniterordens von 1489/93 (Nova Mediaevalia. Quellen und Studien zum europäischen Mittelalter, 1), Göttingen 2007, 438 S

Der Deutsche Orden (Beck wissen), München 2007, 128 S., 3 Karten.

(mit Cordelia Heß, Christina Link) Die Schuldbücher und Rechnungen der Großschäffer des Deutschen Ordens in Preußen, Bd. 1: der Ordensfoliant 141, im Druck.