Zur sozialen Differenzierung in den preußischen Hansestädten im Spätmittelalter
On the social diversification in Hanseatic towns in Prussia in the late Middle Ages
Languages of publication
The source base of the research presented here were city statutes [German: Willkür], state regulations issued by the territorial ruler and other documents revealing the manner in which various social groups were perceived. The research problem was presented in the form of a comparative study with the use of sources from other Hanseatic towns of the Baltic zone. The author poses a question about the infl uence of social and political conditions on the perception and representation of the social order in cities. The author also addresses the question concerning the idea of social diversifi cation shared by all Hanseatic towns. The research shows that an oligarchic governing group and a dychotomic division in which merchants were contrasted with the rest of people are typical of a Hanseatic town. Unlike other regions of the Baltic zone, Prussian towns were retarded in terms of social diversifi cation in the municipal anti-luxury legislation. It was not until the end of the 15th and 16th centuries that city statutes issued in Prussian towns determined the choice of clothes and the splendour of family ceremonies depending on social class (profession, wealth, offices held). It is characteristic that this type of diversifi cation appears as early as the first half of the 15th century in regulations introduced by the territorial ruler (the Teutonic Order), which were not included in the collections of city statutes in big Prussian towns – except in Malbork. The author puts forward a hypothesis that the ruling classes in big Prussian towns at the time of political competition with the Teutonic Order and during the Thirteen Years‘ War (1454–1466) tried to create an egalitarian picture of society to legitimise their position towards the territorial ruler.
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