Digital Diplomatics: What is Diplomatics in the Digital Environment?
On November 14-16, 2013, in Paris, France, the third conference on Digital Diplomatics was held, following those of Munich in 2007 and Naples in 2011. Its goal was to further the scholarly reflection on the way the discipline of diplomatics has developed as a result of the opportunities offered by digital tools to analyse documents on traditional media, and of the challenges presented by born digital documents. This e-book comprises a selection of the papers presented at that conference, entitled “What is Diplomatics in the Digital Environment?”
Diplomatics originated in France as a method of assessing the authenticity and authority of documents of disputed origin in the 17th century, and it developed as a discipline in the following century when it was introduced in the German faculties of law to educate the legal profession about the relationship between facts, acts and the records attesting to them and to assess records as reliable sources of evidence. After history became an autonomous discipline, in the 19th century in Austria, diplomatics was included among the “auxiliary disciplines of history” for its role in supporting historical research and the critical study of documents created by individuals and organizations in the course of their practical and intellectual activities. At the same time diplomatics began to be taught in the first archival schools in Paris and Marburg, as well as Naples. When, in the 20th century, archival science developed itself as an autonomous discipline throughout Europe, it absorbed into its body of knowledge the concepts and the methods of diplomatics. However, diplomatics, as a discipline, remained linked to the identification and analysis of medieval documents as historical sources.
A scholarly reflection on how the new directions taken by diplomatics affect its nature as a field of study concerned with a systematic critical analysis of documents has just begun. The need for such scholarly reflection was at the root of the 2013 Conference on “What is Diplomatics in the Digital Environment?” and it is the primary motivation for dedicating this e-book to Digital Diplomatics."
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