Michael Prokosch




Born in Upper Austria, I moved to Vienna to start my academic studies; These included journalism and communication studies, theatre, film and media studies and mainly astronomy before I discovered my interests in history. I got my diploma in history, then I studied at the Institute of Austrian Historical Research at the University of Vienna and got my masters degree in Auxiliary Sciences and Archival Studies. Right now I’ m working on my doctoral thesis. I worked as museum guard at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, tutor at the University of Vienna, presenter at the Planetarium Vienna and the affiliated observatories and had a two-year employment with an FWF project on book ownership in Alpine valleys during the second half of the eighteenth century hosted at the Institute of History and European Ethnology at the University of Innsbruck. After this I became librarian at the public libraries of Vienna. As of today I work as an archivist at the Carinthian state archive. 

Research interests: history of towns, burgher books, early modern history, history of astronomy, last wills, ego documents, auxiliary sciences (especially chronology), historical sources, Thun legacy.

Current research project: „Österreichische Bürgerbücher der Frühen Neuzeit im Vergleich“
Until well into the early modern period, Bürgerrecht represented the primary social, legal and economic element of municipal communities. The (male) inhabitants of many early modern towns and cities were generally divided into two groups, namely that of the burghers – inhabitants who owned property or houses within the Burgfrieden, i.e. within the area of town jurisdiction – and that of the Inwohner or Mitbürger, who did not. Both groups of residents were usually obliged to swear an oath to become citizens of the town, alongside other requirements (e.g. to be married or to be rather wealthy) given by the towns’ council. Because the population of early modern towns generally tended to decrease over time, the influx of burghers and Inwohner (i.e. migration into towns), represented a necessary element for their survival. The records of the council decisions in favour of applicants for membership in the community of burghers were kept in the so-called Bürgerbücher, also known as Bürgerrollen. Many Austrian towns and cities keep such Bürgerbücher in their archives, but these sources have hitherto been largely disregarded by historical science. The project, which considers itself basic historical research, primarily aims to analyse the Bürgerbücher of early modern Austrian towns and – using the methods of microhistory and computer-based statistics – to compare them in regard to the data given for the professions of new burghers, the fees paid for into the town community, the birth places or points of origins of the accepted individuals (which allows inferences to be made concerning the respective patterns of migration into the studied towns), the mentioning of women, weapons and other things like repeated acceptance of the same members into town communities. The question what circumstances played a role in the creation of the manuscripts will also be part of the thesis, as well as the internal and external features of the sources.


  • (ed.), Das Tagebuch von Leo Thun-Hohenstein (1825–1842) (Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Neuere Geschichte Österreichs) (forthcoming, 2021).
  • together with MARTIN SCHEUTZ, Bürgerschuss, Flinte und Hellebarde. Bürgerrecht und Waffenbesitz am Beispiel österreichischer Städte in der Frühen Neuzeit. In: WERNER FREITAG, MARTIN SCHEUTZ (Ed.), Ein bürgerliches Pulverfass? Waffenbesitz und Waffenkontrolle in der alteuropäischen Stadt (Wien/Köln/Weimar 2021) 33–54.
  • Das älteste Bürgerbuch der Stadt Linz (1658–1707). Edition und Auswertung (Quelleneditionen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 18, Wien 2019).
  • Wenn Zwei eine Reise tun – Die Kavalierstouren Hans Christoph Teufels und Georg Christoph Fernbergers. In: ADELHEID KRAH (Ed.), Quellen, Nachbarschaft, Gemeinschaft. Auf dem Weg zu einer gemeinsamen Kulturgeschichte Zentraleuropas (Wien 2019) 245–273.