The Town Hall of Medieval Augsburg

Herbst/Winter (Oktober–Dezember), showing Augsburg Perlachplatz, by Heinrich Vogtherr the Younger (c. 1550). The Town Hall is on the right. See . Original painting in DHM, Berlin.

On 20 February the Burgh Records Project was pleased to welcome Prof. Dr Jörg Rogge (JGU Mainz), to Aberdeen, to give a paper on “The town hall of medieval Augsburg – a material expression of communal self-concept”.

Jörg’s paper explored the administrative functions of the Town House (Rathaus), its upkeep and renovation (works detailed in the BMB Baumeisterbücher), and the symbolic aspects of the building.

He addressed the medieval Town House as – foremost – a functional space. As a secure building it was the place where the council met, where peace-breakers were imprisoned, where taxes were paid until the 1470s and where financial officials, including the Baumeister, conducted their transactions (in a dedicated chamber known as the Baumeisterstube), and stored their records. It was the focal point in Augsburg for demonstration of a consensus between the governing council and wider civic community of burghers, and the Town Hall itself expressed the idea of a ‘cooperative community’.

All the same, Jörg argued, such a consensus came to be replaced by a less participatory civic culture in the decades from the 1470s-1490s, and onwards. In this regard the paper examined how the same building came to be more exclusively focused on the urban elite, asserting their position as rulers of the city and exercising their collective power in way that adopted the forms used by the nobility.

The elaborate model of the medieval townhouse pictured above is in the Maximilian Museum in Augsburg. It was made by craftsmen in the early seventeenth century, when the medieval building was demolished to make way for the new construction designed by Elias Holl, in 1615, which survives today.

Jörg remained in Aberdeen for the week and collaborated in person in FLAG-related writing projects, and managed to catch a Dons match.