Verena Kasper-Marienberg

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2018/2019
discipline History
Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University

Research project

Seeking Imperial Justice: Accounts of Conflict in 18th Century Frankfurt Jewish Ghetto


For nearly 300 years, the Imperial Aulic Council (Reichshofrat) in Vienna was active not only as imperial governmental body but also as one of the two highest Supreme courts in the Holy Roman Empire. The archival holdings of the Viennese Imperial Aulic Council include a significant number of court cases in which Jewish men and women were involved. Yet, for various reasons, these cases were almost ignored until recently. The applicant spent one year of research in the Viennese archives and was able to discover around 3,000 cases with Jewish involvement that were heard at this court.


Many cases reveal a special and indeed rare treasure for studies involving issues of communal micro-history and Jewish daily life. Before these cases arrived at this Supreme Court for an appeal, many hundreds of them began as local inner-Jewish conflicts that were brought by Jewish communities or their members to lower local-level non-Jewish courts. Thus, they often include a large amount of information on these previous situations. These Jewish individuals often sought the help of Gentile authorities against the rulings of their community leaders, offering therefore in their pleas astounding insights about their position, life, and status within their communities. Most of the time, these Jewish men and women found themselves on the borders of their communities, having acted against various normative patterns of their group.


The project examines how social minorities and marginalized individuals succeeded to fight for their rights and autonomy at this court, using the example of the Jewish community of Frankfurt. The legal cases pushed forward by this community and its members during the eighteenth century allow a new understanding of legal pluralism available for Jewish individuals. These cases also shed new light on the importance of litigation culture and legal institutions in early modern Central European societies.




Verena Kasper-Marienberg is Assistant Professor at the Departement of History of the North Carolina State University. She earned her PhD at the University of Graz, Austria, in History and Historical Museology (Public History).

Verena Kasper-Marienberg’s research focuses on the intersection of Jewish and Christian communities in the early modern period. She is especially interested in questions of legal practice, gender relations, and socio-economic structures in early modern societies.

Selected publications


'From Enlightenment to Emancipation', in C. Hayes (ed.), Judaism and Law: An Introduction, Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 2017, pp. 189-214. 


'Jewish Martyrdom Without Persecution? The Murder of Gumpert May, Frankfurt am Main, 1781', with E. Fram, AJS Review, vol. 39, no. 2, 2015, pp. 267-301.


'Jewish Women at the Viennese Imperial Supreme Court: A Case Study from the Eighteenth Century', Jewish Studies Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 2, 2014, pp. 176-192.


'Zwischen Magistrat und Kaiser - rechtliche Handlungsspielräume der Frankfurter Jüdischen Gemeinde am Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts' [Between the Magistrate and the Emperor:  The Frankfurt Jewish Community’s Legal Maneuvering at the End of the 18th Century], in A. Gotzmann, S. Wendehorst & S. Ehrenpreis (eds), Kaiser und Reich in der jüdischen Lokalgeschichte, Munich, 2012, pp. 263-280.


„vor Euer Kayserlichen Mayestät Justiz-Thron“. Die Frankfurter jüdische Gemeinde am Reichshofrat in josephinischer Zeit (1765-90), Studienverlag, Innsbruck/Wien/Bozen, 2012.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Regional Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History