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About the project

In having seen birth as a “historical novelty“ (Dieter Grimm) in the course of the American and French revolutions in the late eighteenth century, modern constitutionalism revealed its initial core principles, while their subsequent development and implementation during the first half of the nineteenth century may be characterized with Michael Stolleis’s phrase of the “simultaneousness of the unsimultaneous“. Focusing on this central incubation phase of modern constitutionalism, this project will publish approximately 1500 documents and thus lay the foundation for a new assessment of this eminently important period of human history.

Another goal of this research project is to document the individual constitutional histories of a total of 51 countries in Europe, in the Americas, and in Africa as comprehensively and as accurately as possible. This is clearly a first in the scholarship of constitutional and legal history worldwide. Collections of this kind have only very rarely been attempted, let alone completed, in a satisfactory fashion. Even existing compilations -- a few in Europe and in Latin America, some noteworthy in the United States -- have proven to be fragmentary and incomplete when viewed against the broadly-based and comprehensive definition of modern constitutionalism as used in this project.

A further purpose of this large-scale publication venture may be seen in providing the foundation for a European constitutional history which does not exist to this date, though it is a pressing necessity in an age of globalization, growing emphasis on universal values and norms, and an increasingly involved discussion over a European Constitution.

Set in this context, his project will create for the first time a scholarly edition comprising all constitutions, amendments, and declarations of rights that were part of the rising tide of modern constitutionalism between 1776 and 1849 (1860 for the United States). All officially adopted documents will be published, but also -- and in marked contrast to other, similar, collection -- all drafted but failed documents will be, too.

The documents will be available as online and freely accessible facsimiles of the historical sources. The scholarly, authentic, edition of each document will be available on this website for registered users in a state-of-the-art electronic format, fully searchable and cross-linked with its facsimile counterpart. The text editions are also published in printed book form and as eBooks in the series Constitutions of the World from the late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century / Verfassungen der Welt vom späten 18. Jahrhundert bis Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts, Sources on the Rise of Modern Constitutionalism / Quellen zur Herausbildung des modernen Konstitutionalismus by K.G. Saur Verlag, one of the world’s leading publishers for information and documentation. They will be supplemented by English-language scholarly introductions to the history and peculiarities of modern constitutionalism up to 1849 (1861) in all of the countries surveyed. Saur also publishes our highly successful “sister project,“ Constitutions of the World 1850 to the Present, which includes the original documents on microform. Both collections are unique in providing exhaustive and comprehensive documentation of all constitutional documents of the last 230 years in only two complementary sources.

This project is being realized with the generous support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (English pages here) and in cooperation with the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions (ICHRPI). RMC is very proud to have enlisted cooperation with some of the finest and foremost institutions in the field of documentation and information and in digital libraries -- K.G. Saur Verlag and the Goettingen Digitization Center.

Over the course of this project, we have also cooperated with many internationally acclaimed archives and libraries, such as as well as many others.