Walter Pohl

Walter Pohl (born 27 December 1953, in Vienna) is an Austrian historian. His area of expertise is the history of the Migration Period and the Early Middle Ages. He is a leading member of the Vienna School of History.


Pohl is director of the Institut für Mittelalterforschung (Institute for Middle Ages Research) ([1]) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences as well as a university professor of history of the Middle Ages and historical subsidiary sciences at the historical-culture-scientific faculty at the University of Vienna. In the year 2004 he was awarded the Wittgenstein-Preis. Since the summer 2002 he is an Austrian representative in the Committee for the Humanities of the European Science Foundation (ESF) as well as delegates in the general assembly of the ESF.


The main area of research of Pohl include (among other things):

  • Conversion of the Roman world and the realms of the early Middle Ages (see Late Antiquity)
  • Ethnic processes and identities between ancient and the Middle Ages
  • The Migration Period and other migrations.
  • Historiography
  • Early medieval law books
  • History of the steppe peoples
  • History and culture history of Italy until around 1000

He has written many encyclopedia articles in German and English. Walter Pohl is co-founder and editor of the online open-access journal Medieval Worlds.[1]

A protégé of Herwig Wolfram, Pohl is a leading member of the Vienna School of History. However, he has a "much more fluid" approach on the issues than Wolfram or the latters mentor Reinhard Wenskus. Pohl's theories are "profoundly influenced" by sociology, the philosophy of language and critical theory.[2] Pohl contends, in agreement with many other historians, that the Germanic peoples had no institutions or values of their own, and that they made no contribution to the emergence of Medieval Europe. These views have been criticized for example by Wolf Liebeschuetz as "extraordinarily one-sided" and a form of ideological "dogmatism" evincing "a closed mind".[3]


Works in English translation. For a complete list see publications.

  • Die Awaren. Ein Steppenvolk in Mitteleuropa 567 - 822 n. Chr. (2002). English translation in conjunction with Cornell forthcoming.
  • Kingdoms of the Empire: The Integration of Barbarians in Late Antiquity (1997).
  • Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of Ethnic Communities, 300-800 (1998).
  • The Transformation of Frontiers: From Late Antiquity to the Carolingians (2000).
  • Regna and Gentes: The Relationship Between Late Antique and Early Medieval Peoples and Kingdoms in the Transformation of the Roman World (2003).
  • Conceptions of ethnicity in early medieval studies (1991) PDF


  1. ^ Website of Medieval Worlds; accessed on 26 September 2018.
  2. ^ Halsall 2007, p. 16.
  3. ^ Liebeschuetz 2015, p. xxi.


  • Halsall, Guy (2007). Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376–568. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107393325.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Liebeschuetz, Wolf (2015). East and West in Late Antiquity: Invasion, Settlement, Ethnogenesis and Conflicts of Religion. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-28952-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

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