CE38 - Révolution numérique : rapports au savoir et à la culture

Religious Dissidences and Reception of the Reform during the Renaissance in Spain – D4R

Submission summary

The project Religious Dissidence and Reception of the Reformation in the Renaissance in Spain (16th century) (henceforth D4R) has a double objective in Digital Humanities: on the one hand, the processing of a corpus of 16th century documents on the Reformation in Spain and, on the other, the development of a tool to interrogate large masses of documents from a historical perspective. This new tool is intended to provide assistance to researchers in exploiting heterogeneous textual corpora in history by providing tools for both annotating and interrogating masses of documents. The D4R project, which brings together French and Spanish historians, linguists and computer scientists, aims to make possible the dynamic exploration of a documentary corpus (inquisitorial sources, on the one hand, and treatises on spirituality, on the other) by means of a digital platform which, by providing an algorithm and an evolving ontology, offers a semi-automatic aid to the processing of fragmentary data and heterogeneous documentary sources.
The documentary corpus is composed, on the one hand, of 26 printed works of the 16th century (1,620,000 words estimated) - of which six have already been transcribed (about 520,000 words) - and, on the other hand, of a set of manuscript archival sources, which have been transcribed and corrected to date (nearly 850,000 words). The capture of intertextual networks is a cornerstone of this approach. The analysis of the printed works is coupled with the exploitation of the inquisitorial archive sources, which give a more precise view of the process of defining heresy, i.e. of criminalising propositions and doctrines considered orthodox until the decades 1520-1540.
To this end, part of the collections will be handled by OCR using existing AI solutions, adapted to ancient print. The text corpora are then subjected to a linguistic processing chain to make the querying more efficient. D4R then proposes to explore an innovative approach to sources by relying on a computerised platform and by implementing a bottom-up methodology where the human and the algorithm will collaboratively, iteratively and interactively build a new ontology of the domain of interest and/or of the question studied.
The algorithm works on a structured corpus, annotated upstream during three successive enrichment phases: tagging of textual structures, linguistic processing chain and textometric calculations, and finally additional historical annotation. The final objective is to create an "exploration aid" platform that promises the researcher a gain in productivity when searching a documentary corpus thanks to the assistance of an algorithm based on the integration of a set of recent but proven text mining techniques. The result of each exploration takes the form of a co-construction of knowledge from an initial ontology relevant to the studied domain. Another challenge of this task is to provide the platform user with a synthetic representation of the corpus in the form of an ontology of concepts that he or she can manipulate, interrogate, and evolve by controlling the algorithm.
The D4R project intends both to enhance a corpus and to develop a tool that will be developed at the intersection of several languages in a subsequent European project that will bring together fifteen European and overseas universities and will focus on the reception of the Reformation in the territories of the Iberian monarchies in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Iberian Peninsula, Flanders, Southern Italy, the Americas and Asia).

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IRIT Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse
GRIAL GRupo de Investigación en Aplicaciones Lingüíticas
UCLM DeReHis Universidad Castilla-La Mancha / DEREHIS
UAB - UHM Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona / Unidad de Historia Moderna

Help of the ANR 422,364 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2022 - 48 Months

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