Marvel in the archives – “Drinking the wine and looting the church: the plundering of Illens in 1475”

For the city of Freiburg, the Burgundian Wars were a major event in its military history. Through several major victories, especially at Grandson and Morat in 1476, the Swiss acquired a large amount of weapons and wealth by plundering the camps of Charles the Bold’s army; looting the enemy’s camps and towns was in fact common during the Middle Ages. A peculiar document, an inventory of the booty gained in Illens by Freiburg and Bern (produced on the 4th of January 1475)[1] gives us insights in the practice of plundering in the late 15th century and of the items that were collected.

The Burgundian Wars were a large-scale conflict, involving the Swiss Confederacy and the powerful regimes of Burgundy and the Holy Roman Empire (and, indirectly, France). Although Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, tried not to involve the Swiss Confederacy as he was sieging Neuss (Alsace), the cantons of Bern, Fribourg and Luzern decided to attack Burgundy’s ally Savoy. In January 1475, the small coalition invaded the Pays de Vaud, Savoy’s northern territory, despite the opposition of the other confederate cantons[2]. The first town to be conquered was Illens. Between January and October 1475, most of Vaud’s territory all the way to Lausanne was occupied[3].

Fig.1: Luzern, Korporation Luzern, S 23 fol., p. 116 – Illustrated Chronicle by Diebold Schilling of Lucerne (Luzerner Schillling).

The inventory of Illens’ booty was thus produced after the plundering of the castle and the town. The items collected are simply listed in short sections, introduced by “Item”:

(1r) Hienach stat geschriben was uff Illingen gewesen ist uff dem vierden tag Januarii anno [mcccc] lxxvo. So durch beider stetten Bern und Friburg botten in diese geschrifft genomen worden ist.

Des ersten vil ysens núws un gewercket, und gewercket als schinen und anders.

Item zwo kisten mit linlachen tischlachen und anderer linwat, sy sint aber nit gar voll.

Item haeffen pfannen, kessel, und zinnin geschirr und dez alsament wenig.

Item kisten, búttinen, vesser und semlichs plunders, ouch nit vil.

Item ein wiss ross.

Item vier vass mit win, da hat man daruss truncken.

Item vil máls und vil fleisch rindris und schwinis.

Item fúnff silbrin schalen und sechs silbrin léffel.

Item drýg moeschin kertzstall.

Item zwo gross zangen ze muren.

Item zwo brigantynes.

Item xi stechlin armbrust mit ir bereitschafft.

(1v) Item fúnfftzechen gulden wert múntz xxviii blaphart fúr ein guld.

Item ein krepss.

Item acht komet.

Item drýg pein armbrust.

Item xi handbuchssen.

Item iii haockenbúchssen.

Item ein kúris hinder und vor von der mitty uff.

Item ein helmlin.

Item ein hundzkappen.

Item ein halben lagel mit schweubel.

Item ein lagel mit salpeter.

Item ein vierteil pulfers.

Item ein klein secklý zúntpulfers.

Item ein rosshut und ein kuohut.

Item vier ýsný und zwo grossen slangen búchssen.

Item ii alte kurtze ysne búchssen.

Item xii betty guot und boess.

Item will bicklen und steinachssen.

Item lxv ysnen weken.

Item zwein ambos und ein horn ambos.

(2r) Item ein vilkloben.

Item ein messgewand, ein betstein und die buecher.

Item die erbern lút hand dar inn geflóckt in kistinen ir guot, das die botten nit gesechen hand.

Item da sint zwein spicher darinn, als man spricht, vil korns ist und villichter anders guot die sint ouch nit uffgetan worden bis das die stett es ordnent.

Two main categories of items can be identified: “domestic” items and military equipment. The first category displays a vast variety of things, including a white horse, four barrels of wine – which “have been drunk” (da hat man daruss truncken) –, meat (beef and pork) and home appliances (furniture, tableware and tablecloths). The second category takes the most part of the document and displays defensive equipment (such as brigandines and helmets) and weapons (crossbows and portable fire weapons), as well as black powder (and its components, such as saltpeter). More surprising is one of the last sections, which contains religious items: a chasuble (messgewand), an altar (betstein) and a bible (die buecher), which indicates that the fighters pillaged the town’s church.

Fig. 2: The inventory of Illen’s booty.

These last elements are interesting to understand the practice of plundering in Fribourg’s military operations. If looting was authorized, it was however regulated. The first known document regulating plundering was issued in 1410[4]: pillaging home and allied territories was prohibited (punishable by a fine and exile for one year), although acquiring supplies was tolerated. In case of plundering after a victory, the booty had to be given to the city; however, it was forbidden to break into churches (as well to attack clerics and rape women), punishable by losing a hand. In 1447, this regulation was completed, a tenth of the booty going to the captains, the half to the city and the remaining to the fighters[5]. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the sharing of the booty had to be supervised by the banneret (a high-ranking city officer who had administrative and military functions), possibly because of disciplinary problems[6]. In this regard, the fighters plundering Illens decided to not open the town’s granaries (spicher) until the authorities (stett) allowed them to proceed.

Plundering was an important matter, but it was even more important for the city to control it. However, as shown in the inventory of Illens, the rules could be broken. The pillaging of the town’s church should have been punished, but some of its items were registered in the inventory, which made its way into the city’s administration. It is possible that some latitude was given to fighters when plundering a town; the presence of these items could also come from the bernese fighters, who may have plundered the church instead of Freiburg’s fighters. In the end, although the details remain unknown, the document presented in this article shows a violent process, in which populations were robbed of personal items and supplies, weapons and even religious items.

Cite this article as: Mathijs Roelofsen, "Marvel in the archives – “Drinking the wine and looting the church: the plundering of Illens in 1475”," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 10/06/2021, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/1327.

[1] Archives de l’État de Fribourg, Affaires Militaires III.

[2] « Bourgogne, guerres de », Dictionnaire Historique de la Suisse, https://hls-dhs-dss.ch/fr/articles/008881/2011-03-17/.

[3] Gaston Castella, Histoire du Canton de Fribourg depuis les origines jusqu’en 1857 (Fribourg : Fragnière, 1922), pp. 123-124.

[4] Recueil diplomatique du Canton de Fribourg, vol. 6 (1860), pp. 156-162.

[5] Chantal Ammann-Doubliez, La « Première collection des lois » de Fribourg en Nuithonie (Basel : Schwabe, 2009), pp. 437-442.

[6] Archives de l’État de Fribourg, Affaires Militaires IV.

Aspects of Urban Military Organisation in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period: The Case of Freiburg i. Ue. (c. 1440-1500)

This essay discusses focuses on Fribourg as a case study for military organisation in French-speaking Switzerland in the second half of the fifteenth century. The martial responsibilities of individuals and the city are discussed in a wider context, explaining the background behind the formation and equipment of armed companies. Additionally, the methodology and primary sources used for this type of research are addressed in detail. This presentation was intended for the International Medieval Congress 2020 at the University of Leeds, as one of the three papers of the panel “Martial Culture I: Within the Walls of the Medieval Town.” The Congress was cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation, and only a smaller version was conducted virtually. Two of our speakers decided to release their paper on video format. Watch or listen this paper by following the link below.

Watch the video of the talk here

Abstract of the panel: Our research project (2018-22) considers towns as producers, organisers, and brokers of martial culture within the rapidly changing political world of late medieval Europe. It examines how towns transformed and were transformed by military techniques and urban ‘marti­al culture.’ The latter developed at the intersection of legal prerogatives, political requirements, and the evolving ownership and use of weapons. It integrates a number of historiographical approaches that are usually explored separately: ur­ban institutional, social, and political history; military history; arms and armour; urban martial competitions; knowledge production and dissemination; fighting expertise, and the transformation of the urban space itself. (Paper A : Martial Experts. Experts. Fencers, Gunners, and Arbalesters as Masters in Swiss Towns. Paper B : Aspects of Urban Military Organisation in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. The Case of Freiburg i. Ue. (ca. 1440-1500). Paper C :  The Spaces of Martial Culture in Late Medieval Towns).

This paper is also available on the Bern Open Repository and Information System (BORIS) with the following DOI: 10.7892/boris.145107

Cite this article as: Mathijs Roelofsen, "Aspects of Urban Military Organisation in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period: The Case of Freiburg i. Ue. (c. 1440-1500)," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 17/07/2020, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/1026.

Drawing of a soldier from Fribourg’s state archives

A peculiar piece of art can be found in the military collection of the “State Archive of Fribourg”. An ink sketch of what appears to be a sixteenth century warrior, with his weapon and a banner, has been drawn on the first folio of an administrative document.[1] The creator or the purpose of this drawing are unknown, but its location, on a 1433 members list of Fribourg’s Bakers’ guild, provides the opportunity to talk about a particularly interesting element of Fribourg’s military organisation: the Reisgesellschaft.

First, the drawing needs to be examined. The figure depicted is wearing typical rich and opulent sixteenth century clothing, as well as some type of a one-handed sword, most likely a katzbalger. An inscription designates the figure as a “Hans Schzeker” (or maybe “Schzekel”). The artist/author is unknown, and no specific details are known in regards to the specific identity of the person depicted besides a potential name. Could it be a representation of one of the Bakers’ guild members as a fighter? As it seems logical, some elements can contradict this hypothesis. The banner represented in the drawing displays a Saint George’s cross, which does not correspond to the two keys traditionally displayed on the Bakers’ guild banner.[2] Additionally, the name mentioned, Hans Schzeker (and its potential variation), cannot be traced to any of the fifteenth and sixteenth century guild lists. However, it is worth mentioning that no research has yet been done on the identity of the individuals mentioned in them. The chronological gap between the production of the document and the addition of the drawing is most intriguing. Because of the nature of the document, it is possible that any member of the Bakers’ guild with access to this document could have drawn on it. However, as puzzling as it is, the drawing is not the only interesting element of this document.

Ink drawing of a warrior, Archives de l’État de Fribourg, Boulangers 3.1, 1433, fol. 1.

The type of document on which the little piece of art was drawn is a list of members of the “craftsmanship and travel company” (Hantwerck und Reisgeselschaft). The word Reisgesellschaft is important in the context of Fribourg’s military history, because it was systematically used since the 1460s to define any armed company mobilised for military expeditions. During those military enterprises, documents were produced to register the names of men involved, their salary and the expedition’s overall spending. They provide invaluable information on the evolution of the armed companies, mainly because they indicate that more specialised personnel (scribes, priests etc) was integrated in the companies since the 1490s. The complexity of those documents also increased during this period and they became complete “travel books” (Reisbücher). Lists of men constitute an important body of sources not only in Fribourg’s archives, as more than a hundred are preserved in its military collections, but also in other Swiss cities. Documents that can be labelled as “Harnischrödeln” were produced during the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries in many Swiss towns, such as Luzern or Brugg.[3]

In Fribourg, craftsmen’s guilds were organisations that originally served religious and social purposes. Similarly to religious brotherhoods, the craftsmen guilds gathered during religious events and cultivated solidarity between the guilds’ members.[4] A charter written in 1464 tells us more on the practical purposes of the Reisgesellschaft, which relied on the solidarity between its members to adjust to certain situations, such as covering travel expenses, being kept as prisoner during war or even death while participating in a military operation.[5]

Fribourg’s military organisation was similar to other cities in the Holy Roman Empire, where citizens were mobilised based on their districts or their guilds. For the citizens of those cities, it was a civic duty to participate in the defence of the walls or in military expeditions. For example, craftsmen guilds in the city of Liege had an active military role and guilds had to finance the collective expense of the expedition, such as the supplies, the transport and the military decorum.[6] One notable practice was the creation of a banner, which served as an identity element for guilds members. In the case of fifteenth century Fribourg, the four districts (Bourg, Auge, Hôpitaux, Neuveville) were systematically involved in military expeditions, and their guilds were mobilized mainly between the 1460s and the first decades of the sixteenth century. During this period, more than fifty armed companies can be identified within the limits of the city walls. If every guild, such as the Tailors or the Smiths, were organised in armed companies bearing the name of their craft, other groups were named after objects or mythical figures such as the Star (Lesteile), the Flying Stag (von dem Fliegenden Hirtz), the Red Griffin (Le Griffon roge) or the Tree (Larbere). This Golden Age for the Reisgesellschaften can be correlated with the closer ties between Fribourg and the Old Swiss Confederation, with numerous military campaigns.[7] The first occurrence is the conquest of Thurgau by the Confederation in 1460, when a conflict between the Pope and Sigismund von Habsburg pushed the Swiss to seize part of the Archduke’s territory. Reisgesellschaften were thus integrated in a large scale military operation (for the city of Fribourg), with members of the patrician families in commanding roles (Captain, advisors), a treasurer and an artillery master. The companies were paid by the city and composed the largest body of fighters, as 186 of the 264 men mobilized went under their guilds’ banners.[8]

The Reisgesellschaften are an important part of Fribourg’s military history and it is not a surprise to find a drawing of a soldier in a guild members’ list. However, this drawing is one of a kind in Fribourg’s archives (or, as far as we know based on ongoing research, in Switzerland) and a small indirect and beautiful piece of evidence of the importance of armed companies. They were more than groups of citizen-fighters; they were an integral part of the guilds’ function and were based on the solidarity between the guilds’ members.

Cite this article as: Mathijs Roelofsen, "Drawing of a soldier from Fribourg’s state archives," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 29/06/2020, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/982.

[1] Archives de l’État de Fribourg, Boulangers 3.1, 1433, fol. 1.

[2] “Der Pfisternn geselschaft die fürenn zweii schusset”, Archives de l’État de Fribourg, Affaires Militaires IV, 7, fol. 61.

[3] Regula Schmid, “The armour of the common soldier in the late middle ages. Harnischrödel as sources for the history of urban martial culture”, Acta Periodica Duellatorum, vol. 5, 2 (2017), pp. 7-24.

[4] Hellmut Gutzwiller, “Die Zünfte in Freiburg I. Ue. 1460-1650”, Freiburger Geschichtsblätter, 41-42 (1949), p. 6.

[5] Archives de l’État de Fribourg, Stadtsachen A 265, 1464.

[6] Guillaume Mora-Dieu, “Les corporations et la défense d’une ville: l’exemple de Liège”, Médiévales, 73, 2 (2017), pp. 198-199.

[7] Gaston Castella, “La politique extérieure de Fribourg depuis ses origines jusqu’à son entrée dans la Confédération (1157-1481), Fribourg – Freiburg, 1157-1481, Fribourg: Fragnière (1957), p. 176 et ss.

[8] Albert Büchi, “La particiation de Fribourg à la conquête de la Thurgovie (1460)”, Annales fribourgeoises, 18 (1930),pp. 21-33.

An iron hand for a master gunner injured in the Burgundian wars

The 1479 accounting book of the town of Solothurn mentions, among a range of miscellaneous expenditures (like for broken tavern windows), an artillery accident. On June 22, 1476, near the small town of Morat, the allied forces of the old Swiss Confederation under the leadership of Fribourg and Bern defeated the army of the Duke of Burgundy, thus launching the international reputation of the Swiss warriors. During this battle, the master gunner of Fribourg was injured. He lost one of his hand and two ribs.

„Item. Dem büchsenmeister von Frÿburg 1 lib., so vor Murten ein hand und zweÿ  ripp usgeschossen sind“.

Staatsarchiv Solothurn, BB Seckelmeister Rechnungen, 1479, fol. 137 .

Accounting documents are always quite dry. However, this note contains two relevant indications that allow the identification of the master who is not named in this document. The first is that he was in the service of Fribourg, and the second, that he lost his hand. We do not know why the council of Solothurn paid this master 1 lib. in 1479, three years after the incident. We do know, however, that master gunners were highly desirable specialists who were hired in turn by different towns, or were passed on within established political or economic networks. Indeed, payments to master gunners in Solothurn date back to 1440.[1] The town established the office of master gunner officially in 1463, when Hans Zechender (or Zehnder) from Zürich entered the service of Solothurn.[2] During the time of the battle of Morat, the master gunner of Solothurn was Peter Müller. In the same period, the Fribourg documents actually mention two masters – who both lost their hands! Ulrich Wyss[3] lost one hand and master Gabriel Tucher lost both hands.[4]

The Solothurn entry has to refer, therefore, to Ulrich Wyss. His unfortunate case can be connected to a curious object kept in the Museum of Art and History of Fribourg: a mechanical hand. The hand was made shortly after the accident by Ulrich Wagner, a locksmith and watchmaker, who received the sum of 11 pounds from Fribourg’s city council.[5] The object is 14 cm long and 9,5 cm wide, and weights around 340 grams. The hand was equipped with two mechanisms; one to open and close the hand, and another to place the fingers in at least two positions. As it was a passive prosthesis, it had to be operated by the other hand to change the fingers’ position (operating like pliers). It also received some attention to aesthetic details, such as engraved fingernails.

View of the hand’s palm and back. ©MAHF, Primula Bosshard.

Activities related to the artillery were not only dangerous in times of war, but also when weapons and ammunition had to be stored, handled or even produced. The archives relate a number of incidents. The rare surviving example of a fifteenth century iron hand, connected to archival documentation, is an interesting case study showing not only a very early mechanical prosthesis, but probably also the master gunner’s importance for the town, as the Council paid for this sophisticated creation. Other similar hands are known in the 16th century. At that time, they can be connected to technical literature about prostheses, and to the rapidly evolving field of war surgery that on its part reflected the now widespread use and efficiency on firearms on the battlefield.

Acknowledgement:

We would like to thank Stéphane Gasser, curator at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Fribourg, for his support and the documentation provided.

Cite this article as: Mathijs Roelofsen, "An iron hand for a master gunner injured in the Burgundian wars," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 01/08/2019, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/331.


[1] Louis Jäggi, 500 Jahre Schützengesellschaft der Stadt Solothurn (Solothurn: Union Druck, 1962), pp. 37-38.

[2] Amt des Büchsenmeisters (des büchsenmeisters überkomnusbrieff), edited by Charles Studer in SSRQ, vol. X/2 (1987), pp. 52-54.

[3] The city authorities of Fribourg hired Ulrich Wanner in April 1475, for three years of service: “Per messeigneurs l’avoyer, conseillers et banderets fust receu per maistre des boetes Ulrich Wannere, per 3 ans, chascun an per 3 lib. et une robe chascun an.” Archives de l’État de Fribourg, RM 5, 1471-1479, fol. 129v.

[4] Wyss is first mentioned in 1475 and received the right of citizenship in the same year. His successor is Ulrich Wanner : “Item pour la robe, que lon a schengua a meister Gabriel maister dez boistes, lequel persist les mains devant Morat. etc.”. Freiburger Seckelmeisterrechnungen, n°158, edited by Albert Büschi in « Freiburger Akten zur Geschichte der Burgunderkriege (1474-1481) », Freiburger Geschichtsblätter 16 (1909), p. 99. 

[5] « Item a maistre Ulrich Wagner maistre facteur dez reloges pour una main quil a fait a Ulrich maistre dez boitez ordonne par Messeigneurs ou luef de celle quil persist ou service de le ville en faisant les keygel 11fl. = 22 lib. » Quoted in Raoul Blanchard « Ulrich Wagner – Eiserne Kunsthand (1476) », Blätter des Museums für Kunst und Geschichte Freiburg (2000-2).

Conference review “Stadt und Militär. Konfrontation und/oder Kooperation” (November 16-18, 2018)

The conference “Stadt und Militär. Konfrontation und/oder Kooperation” (City and Military. Confrontation and/or cooperation) took place on November 16-18, 2018, in Ingolstadt. The event was organized by the Südwestdeutscher Arbeitskreis für Stadtgeschichtsforschung (South-west study network for urban history research). The conference details can be found on the organization’s website. The flyer of the conference is available here.

The conference began with a guided tour of the city fortification (14th c.), lead by Dr. Tobias Schönauer. The city walls were quickly extended to enclose areas around the town. Because of the large amount of space available inside the city walls, the municipal authorities did not have to destroy the defences to allow urban extension until the mid-20th century. In fact, the town’s strategical location in south-east Germany played an important role in the maintaining and upkeep of its defences. The conference’s organization committee especially pointed out the various layers of modification of the defences in the course of history, either of the wall itself or of the military facilities, therefore allowing the attendance to understand the materiality of the remaining defensive structures, such as the castle, parts of the wall and the 19th c. military facilities (garrisons and arsenals). The tour host provided us also with interesting insights into the archaeological research which has been conducted inside the military buildings. The impact of the city’s military function on its citizens’ everyday life became thus evident.  

The introduction to the conference itself set the event’s key questions and perspectives. Its main aim was to discuss the relations between citizens and soldiers (for example the problem of sexuality or marriage), either in time of peace and at war. The main presentation, provided by Daniel Hohrath (Curator of the Bayerisches Armeemuseum, Ingolstadt), raised questions about the soldiers’ social status in the early modern period, as they can be seen not only as a population on their own, but also as being the objects of representations (soldiers as strangers in the city or as symbols of the state).

The next day started with the presentations of the panel « Development of the military cities ». Tobias Echt, from the celtic-roman museum of Manching, talked about the development of the Colonia Augusta Troadenisis in the West of Greece during the classical era. His analysis did not only emphasize the importance of a roman defensive colony in the Troas region (actual West Turkey), but also showed that the roman colonists shared their rights with the citizens living in Rome itself. One of the key element in Tobias Echt’s analysis, based on epigraphical and numismatical evidence, was the social mobility of roman veterans after the Augustean times, as they were given land in exchange for their military service; not only did the veterans gain a quick access to high political functions in the city, but they also formed a social elite.

The switch to the medieval and early modern periods was led by Dr. Christian Ottersbach (art historian and scientific collaborator in Esslingen) who presented a general view on city defences of actual Germany’s South-West from 1500 to 1620. He chose to show the development of city defences within the «Long Middle Ages » as some elements of the medieval defences are still used during the early modern period. The apparition of gunpowder did not induce the abandon of medieval military structures, especially city walls, but merely forced the municipal authorities to modify over time the already existing structures. Even if the historiography acknowledges the late apparition of the Trace italienne (star shaped citadels), some cities tried to develop their own architectural innovations, experimenting with the shape of the fortification. For example, even if their disposition remained in accordance to the medieval times, city walls received towers and reinforcements that were able to withstand heavy fire. The city walls’ development in South-West German cities can therefore be seen as a succession of layers, the medieval structures being used as foundations for modern improvements (so called bastonierung). However, military necessities were not the only parameters eventually determining the form of modern foritifications : city walls were also a symbol of power, either for the city or the state.

The third presentation, by Max Plassmann (Head of the old Köln state archives), aimed to establish the link between the martial skills of Köln’s citizens in the early modern period and their social mobility. Indeed, as Köln was surrounded by potentially rival states, it developed a strong city defence. Military skills became a foremost quality for citizens wanting to rise to high administrative and political functions. For example, it was not uncommon for the city Burgermeister to have a founded military experience. It raises the question of the specific military carrier of the urban elites in other imperial towns, and of the possible differences between each one of those.

In the following presentation, archaeologist Dr. Ruth Sandner (Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege) gave an overview of the archaeological research made during the last two decades in Ingolstadt. These archaeological projects concerned mainly defensive structures integrated in the city wall, from the Middle Ages to the 17th century bastions. During the research, the main problem was water infiltration (Ingolstadt is located near the Donau river), which, however, helped in the preservation of organic objects. The next presentation, a summary of Manfred Bauer’s current PhD work (University of Munich), was topically close to the former, as it focused on the materiality of the soldiers’ everyday life between the 17th and the 19th century. Manfred Bauer used both new and already studied archaeological material, divided in two categories: primary (weapons) and secondary (armour, uniform, tools, games, pipes,…). This distinction allowed him to observe two moments of the soldier’s life: combat and training situations on the one side, free time or waiting situations (such as guard duty), on the other side.

The second panel of the day gave an overview on different types of defences on the basis of several case studies. Dr. Brigitte Huber, from Munich’s state archives, showed the importance of Munich as a strategical location for the garrisons under the reign of Maximilian I. The population of soldiers, along with their families, was always significant in the city. This provided not only a good defence against the outside, but also to the inside as the soldiers’ presence helped to maintain order. Dr. Beatrix Schönewald (Bayerisches Armeemuseum) focused in her presentation on Daniel Speckle (1536-1589), a Master builder who was largely influenced by the theoretical debates and technical treatises on the best way to build a city fitted for defence. She presented the main technical books on the subject, such as the Codex Matopicus (1529), Architectur (1583) and Architectura von Vestungen (1589) ; all these treatises focusing on the construction of the most perfect (geometrical) defensive city, but also on structural strenghthening, explosives and ballistics. In another case study, Guido von Büren (Museum Zitadelle Jülich) presented the defensive city of Jülich, which was designed by the Italian military architect Pascualini as a citadel, the little town nearby being only necessary for housing the civilians. In fact, the citadel housed more soldiers than were civilians in the nearby town. The citadel was built to sustain long time sieges, being merely a stronghold aimed at stopping foreign armies to go further into the territory. As a city, Jülich therefore rests heavily on one end of the spectrum «Militär» and «Stadt». In a similar vein, Benedict Loew (Städtisches Museum Saarlouis) then talked about the Saarlouis citadel from the 18th to the 19th century, built ex nihilo for housing a garrison and integrating the mills, the market and the storehouses directly into the defensive infrastructure. In fact, the life of the civilians living inside the citadel was organized around the military activities, the troops having the priority over civilians in the access to food, creating an inequality of treatment. However, buildings such as mills were progressively taken out of the citadel. The last two presentations of the day focused on the 18th and 19th century. Klaus Roider showed the importance of nobility among Nürnberg’s military officers in the 18th century when the prestige of military service was reserved for an an elite. Dr. Thomas Tippach (University of Münster presented an overview of Koblenz’s military aspects in the 19th century.

Overall, the presentations gave a large chronological and topical picture. I also noticed, by discussing with other researchers, that social questions were at the core of actual military history research, especially when seeing the soldier or fighter as a member of a certain social group that comes sometimes in conflict with the town’s citizens. Even if it was not addressed directly, the topic “Konfrontation und/oder Kooperation” was indeed the underlying subject of reflexion during this event.

In view of our project on martial culture, attending this conference brought many new insights into the social repercussions of military matters. This addresses the importance of the global approach chosen in our project, as some aspects of the urban landscape and political life were not only driven by the necessity to build a sufficient military power, but also by the rulers political and military ambitions.

Cite this article as: Mathijs Roelofsen, "Conference review “Stadt und Militär. Konfrontation und/oder Kooperation” (November 16-18, 2018)," in Martial Culture in Medieval Town, 25/03/2019, https://martcult.hypotheses.org/209.