2013 | 78 | 4 | 19-40
Article title

Wahlen in der Großen Gilde zu Riga. Ein Beitrag zu bürgerlichen Partizipationsformen in der vormodernen Stadt

Title variants
Elections in the Large Guild in Riga. Contribution to the issue of the forms of burghers' participation in the early modern town
Languages of publication
The Large Guild of merchants was one of three political estates in Riga and occupied a high political position in the town. Taking major political decisions required its consent. Thus, the positions in the Large Guild – the eldest (the president of the Guild), the bench of the elders (the governing body of the Guild) and the “dockman” (the spokesman of the Guild’s brothers) – appointed by election - were at the same time political offices in the political structure of the whole town. The article attempts to analyse confl icts concerning the manner of conducting elections to the posts in the 1680s. The analysis has shown that burghers concentrated in the Large Guild were capable of developing and protecting their right to participate in the election. Nevertheless, it does not apply to all election proceedings to the same extent: in the case of the elections to the bench of elders and a “dockman”, burghers had only the right to put forward candidates; however, burghers had the greatest infl uence on the choice of the elder. Burghers also had the right to appoint their candidates to offices in the city board and charity organisations in Riga. Hence, it must be stressed that a burgher of Riga participated in the political life of the city mainly through taking part in elections. The analysis of the various forms in which the burghers participated in the city board in the early modern period allows us to examine and explain the issue of burghers’ elections. Ambitious burghers had an opportunity to present themselves and advance politically. The research connected with the city’s patriciate and the authorities may acquire a new image if we look more closely at lower offi ces in the city – below the city council.
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