Prof. Dr. Tanja Skambraks

Prof. Dr. Tanja Skambraks
Temporary academic councilor (Since 1.9. Professor of Medieval History at the University of Graz)
University of Mannheim
Chair of Medieval History
L 7,7
68161 Mannheim
Consultation hour(s):
By appointment via zoom.


  • Biography

    In the academic year 2022/2023, Tanja Skambraks is representing the Chair of Medieval History at the University of Mannheim where she has been an assistant professor since 2015. In March 2021, she acquired the venia legendi in Medieval History with a habilitation thesis on: “Charitable Credit. The Monti di Pietà, Franciscan Economic Ethics and Urban Social Policy in Italy (15th and 16th centuries)”.

    In 2014, Tanja Skambraks received her doctorate from the University of Mannheim with a thesis on medieval liturgy and religious rituals (The Boy Bishop's Feast in Europe). The thesis was awarded the University Prize for Language and Science in 2014. She worked in archives and libraries in Rome, London, Oxford, Perugia and Boston. From 2009 to 2011 she held a scholarship of the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Tanja Skambraks studied Medieval History, English Literature and Communication Science at the Technical University Dresden and the University of Edinburgh from 1999 to 2006.

    She regularly teaches courses on economic and social history, urban history as well as religious and ecclesiastical history.

    Her research interests include credit and market participation, debt, business ethics, social work, and material culture and ritual studies.

    As part of the project “Small Credit and Market Participation”, she has been supervising a DFG-funded PhD project on “Credit Relations of the Clergy of St Paul's Cathedral in Late Medieval London” since 2018. Tanja Skambraks is supervising and welcoming Bachelor, Master and PhD students ready to work on similar topics.

  • Current book

    Her habilitation thesis deals with the emergence and genesis of the Monti di Pietà (“Mountains of Piety”) in Italy between the middle of the 15th century to the late 16th century. These pawnshops granted small loans to the working poor (craftsmen, day labourers, widows, etc.) against a pledge and a small interest rate. In addition to these small-scale credits, which are still provided today, the Monti also functioned as banking institutions by offering giro transactions and deposits. This innovative socio-political project was propagated in particular by Franciscans as a non-profit charity and was installed by urban oligarchs and run by municipal officials.

    The book was published in 2023 in German with Steiner (VSWG Beihefte). The study contributes to the history of (small-scale) credit and banking as well as poor-relief and microcredit in the context of the emergence of decentralized urban welfare in the pre-modern period.

  • Research projects

    Tanja Skambraks is currently working on four research projects.

    Her new book project deals with tally sticks. This project connects a material culture approach with the analysis of techniques of knowledge storage and administration in a European perspective between 500 and ca. 1800.

    The other projects focus on two Roman charitable brotherhoods and social work in the 16th and 17th centuries, on urban pawnshops and small-scale credit in Nuremberg and Augsburg (15th to 17th centuries) and on the concept of “Moral Economy” in an interdisciplinary perspective.

    In the DFG-funded international network “Calculating, Acting, Perceiving. Towards a New Methodology of Late Medieval Economic History” (2015–2018), Tanja Skambraks worked with a collective of authors and as editor of a handbook on economic history, theory and methods published with Palgrave in 2019. She is also one of the founders of the Research Group for Late Medieval Economic History ( and a member of the organizing committee of the international network on medieval financial history GIRO (