Thanks to a fortunate intuition of Paolo Prodi, right from its origin in 1973 ISIG has been an important confluence for dialogue between the different European schools of historiography, in particular for the Italian and German spheres. For entire generations of Italian and German historians the institute has represented a privileged space for exploring interconnections between different study horizons, and developing lines of research that have profoundly influenced European historiography.

ISIG focused its approach on the central issues of religious, political, and social history, like the Reformation, confessionalization, social regulation, and the evolution of the modern state, paying particular attention to analyses over extended periods and encouraging dialogue with historiography from the German world. In more recent times the Institute’s activities have been characterized by investigations into key issues in the age of transition and the main developments of modernity.

Supported by Pierangelo Schiera, Paolo Prodi directed the Institute from 1973 to 1997. He was succeeded by Giorgio Cracco (1998-2005), Gian Enrico Rusconi (2005-2010), Paolo Pombeni (2010-2016) and Christoph Cornelißen (2017-2023). Since February 2023 the director is Massimo Rospocher.

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