A Tutorial


How the tutorial works

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The aim of this tutorial is is to provide an introduction to the key ideas of prosopography, together with a set of exercises illustrating the basis of any prosopography, i.e. the creation of a register of persons from an index of name records. The documents used will be most familiar to medievalists, but the principles of the exercises are relevant to all periods.

You can work at your own pace. A full day’s work would be required to do all the required reading and complete all the exercises. If a less concentrated approach is preferred, there are four natural break points in the tutorial, i.e. the introductory material and required reading, and each of the three Steps in the creation of the register of persons. Or you could break it down even further. It is up to you.

The requirements for the tutorial have deliberately been kept as straightforward as possible, with nothing more technical than a standard Excel worksheet being required. It will be helpful to you to follow up suggested reading on the principals of relational databases.

You will need to start with some preliminary reading

A wealth of material has been gathered together in a book entitled Prosopography Approaches and Applications. A Handbook, ed. K.S.B. Keats-Rohan, which you are advised to consult. Three of the articles in the book are provided elsewhere on this website and are required reading for the tutorial. One is the Short Manual to the Art of Prosopography (Carlier/Dumolyn/Verboven), cited in the tutorial as Manual; another deals with databases and database structures (Mathisen), and the third, on Biography, identity and names (Keats-Rohan) is written by the author of the tutorial and elaborates many of its ideas.

Two other useful papers are Lawrence Stone, ‘Prosopography’, Daedalus 100 (1971),  46-79, and Paul Magdalino, ‘The contribution of prosopography: the Byzantine Empire or Why prosopography? A question of identity’, Fifty Years of Prosopography. The Later Roman Empire, Byzantium and Beyond, ed. A. Cameron (Oxford and New York, 2003).

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©University of Oxford

The compilers were Dr Katharine S. B. Keats-Rohan with the assistance of Dr Olga Borymchuk and Jacquelyn Fernholz.