Saxon Town Clerks in Late Medieval and in Early Modern Times

Researcher: Jens Klingner

In the Late Middle Ages, town clerks substantially contributed to the setup and expansion of administrative structures of Saxon towns. Their scope of activities involved a multitude of tasks. Among other things, they were involved in the registration of additional taxes (the most important source of income of the town), or they kept the respective town account books. In addition, their office included the representation of the town in foreign affairs, or the representation of citizens at court in litigations.  More than the council meetings that were changing annually, the town clerks provided the stable element of the town administration, a fact that is little noticed by academic research up to today. Their great is underlined by the fact that many town clerks joined the town council or were even elected Mayor of the town.

This project investigates the Saxon town clerks from the 14th to the early 17th century. On the basis of prosopographic studies, mainly about their origin, their education, as well as the course of their careers, will be highlighted. Questions concerning the municipal chancery, the institutional, legal, and political connections of the clerks to the town administration and the council will be in the focus of attention, as will be their fields of activity within and outside the town. The objective is to achieve an overview over the Saxon town councils in general as well as over their activities in the Saxon chanceries in particular.