Correspondence file: Peter Munz

Scope and Content

Munz and Gluckman corresponded in the 1960s on the possibilities of inter-disciplinary approaches to studying history, with Munz keen to use anthropological concepts in his studies on medieval society.

  • GLU/8/1-3 discuss value of anthropological concepts for ideas of medieval feudalism and kindred, which Munz was tackling in his research on Frederick Barbarossa and 12th century Germany. In GLU/8/2, copy letter, 20 Jul 1962, recommends his Custom and conflicts in Africa, and Raymond Firth's Human types as good primers for Munz's work, although feels "no good textbooks of anthropology"; Munz also discussed using a comparative approach to kin relations using Shaku Zulu, Charlemagne and Clovis as examples (GLU/8/3).
  • GLU/8/5, 3 Oct 1962, Munz mentions the generally favourable response to his paper at Sydney University comparing the kingship of the Zulus and Charlemagne . In their discussions, Munz argues for a close relationship between kinship and feudalism in medieval Europe, while Gluckman argues that the distinctive political underpinning of feudal relations is not fully present in African social systems. Gluckman being of the opinion that African societies exhibit a "quite definitely a pre-feudal relationship".
  • GLU/8/6, copy letter 18 Dec 1962, Gluckman outlines plans for "Rule, law and ritual in tribal society", which will include a study of African political systems, and queries whether Munz can provide comparative analysis based on medieval European counterparts.
  • GLU/8/13, Munz requests Gluckman's comments on a draft of "Society in the age of Charlemagne..." (16 Jan 1965).

Administrative / Biographical History

Peter Munz (1921-2006) was a historian and professor of history at the Victoria University of Wellington 1968-1986. Munz was the author of Life in the age of Charlemagne (1969) and Frederick Barbarossa: a study in medieval politics (1969). He was also the author of several philosophical works on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper.