‘Homagium’ or Hospitality?: The Struggle for Political Representation in Bremen around 1600

Eras Journal – Schilling, R.: ‘Homagium’ or Hospitality?

‘Homagium’ or Hospitality?: The Struggle for Political Representation in Bremen around 1600
Ruth Schilling
(Humboldt University, Berlin)


When Bishop Henry of Saxony-Lauenburg entered Bremen on the morning of September 25, 1580 he was dressed in splendid armour and accompanied by a huge and impressive entourage of the elite of the north western German nobility. The bishop’s chronicle counted 600 horses at this event.[1] The city centre itself must have been rather crowded: the bishop and his entourage had to make their way through long lines of burghers who had been called into arms to stand along the bishop’s route.

This event and its preparations – which lasted for thirteen years – reveal important notions of a specific political culture of city republicanism. In describing and commenting upon this event the people of Bremen expressed their wish to achieve their aim of preserving the city’s existence against mounting territorial pressures. They did so by not making explicit political statements but by remodelling mechanisms of community building in a way they found useful in order to preserve their independent existence under rather oppressive circumstances. These methods of dealing with this single but important event in Bremensian history can be focused around different notions of political representation, both in the literal and wider sense of the word. Therefore, a short clarification of the different uses of this term will be given before proceeding to a detailed analysis of the different descriptions of the bishop’s entrée in Bremen in 1580.

Political Representation in Early Modern Republics

The analysis of political representation focuses mainly upon monarchies and the replacement of God given rule by notions of natural law.[2] Historical research on city republics is usually neglected where questions of state formation or political representation are concerned as they are not valued as relevant factors to the building of states in Europe.[3]

In a strictly literal sense political representation intends to facilitate the recollection of a person or an event through the use of symbols and rituals. This notion implies that there are mechanisms involved that make it possible for persons to be present at different times and locations by perceiving the political connotations of the symbolism. [4]

This meaning of the term is connected with the more common usage of the word ‘representation’. In everyday language it is very often applied in order to enhance a person’s status. Representation, in this sense, is a way of political communication. It delivers ideas and messages about the ‘re-presented’ person and their status to the audience. The exact procedure of this communication reveals a whole pattern of culture, a ‘thick story’ in the sense of Clifford Geertz’s cultural anthropological view, and has been and still is a very fundamental pattern involved in the process and maintenance of political order. [5]

Around 1600 several different types of political representation were apparent: old medieval ones in the sense of the personal-bound conception of the body politic and modern ones of sovereignty and territorial bound rule. Notions of Roman law were sometimes intertwined with more personalised concepts. The multiplicity of the political, religious, social, economic and cultural ‘crises’ at this time was reflected in a very lively, aggressive and creative climate of political speech and political culture. [6] It is a period when religious and political front lines were leading to the escalation of the Thirty Years War. Communities at this time – even when they were unwilling to do so – were compelled to position themselves on one side or the other of the emerging politico-religious communal division lines.[7]

The development of this period created a considerable amount of political pressures on city republics. Their survival depended on stable and conflict free situation with the surrounding greater powers. Consequently this period sees a growth of radicalisation in the city republics. They were openly expressing their views on themselves, a previously unknown process, especially in the port cities whose political culture was formed by an elite of long distance traders who were not inclined towards political philosophy. But the last half of the sixteenth century saw the emergence of figures like the Mayor of Bremen and Syndic of the Hanseatic League, Henry Kreffting, who tried to assert Bremen’s sovereignty in his “Discursus de Republica Bremensi”.[8] Other evidence from Hanseatic cities show a similar development.[9]

For a history of early modern republicanism and a characterisation of European political culture at this time it is important to look at the methods and concepts of political representation used in city republics at this period. ‘Political representation’ in the following analysis is a focal point for the two streams of argumentation linked to this term: firstly, it covers the whole aspect of political communication and expression of status via symbolism and ritual enhancement; and secondly, it also means the aspect of actually defining who stands for whom. Both aspects can be traced in the sources. The different notions of political representation were very important to the people who negotiated them with their ducal counterparts.

The Hanseatic City of Bremen between ‘Imperial Liberty’ and the Bishop’s Sovereignty around 1600

In 1580, thirteen years after his election as archbishop of Bremen in 1567, Henry, son of Franz I, Duke of Saxony-Lauenburg, entered the city, which was the core of his bishopric, to be finally recognised as its sovereign. [10]

Bremen had been founded as an archbishopric in the course of the struggle of Charlemagne to conquer the region of what is today called Lower Saxony.[11] Willehad, first bishop of Bremen, and Charlemagne were subsequently regarded as the founding fathers of the city.[12] Both became an integral part of the city’s historical memory. They were depicted looming prominently over the city’s magistrates in the main assembly hall of the Bremen Town Hall on a painting by Bartholomäus Bryun the Older (1532). [13]

In the early and high medieval period the bishop, as the emperor’s steward, enjoyed several rights.[14]These rights officially continued to exist until the nineteenth century. The genesis of national churches and dioceses in the Scandinavian countries and an inferior position to rival territorial neighbouring powers like the duchy of Oldenburg weakened the bishop’s position and his rights, which though still officially existing, did not match his political standing. Due to its geographical situation Bremen became a very important centre for long distance trading. Economic growth was matched by a growth of political power. At the beginning of the fourteenth century the building of the four main parish churches in Bremen were not overseen by the bishop’s men, but by lay Bremensian magistrates.

In late medieval chronicles and in works of art expressing the city’s self-representation the bishop was not regarded as a negative factor. He was not portrayed as an overlord. Instead the Bremensians saw the bishop as a symbol for the city’s origins as a ‘free and imperial city’ as Emperor Charlemagne had been the actual founder of the city.[15]The title ‘free and imperial city’ referred to the fact that cities that claimed this status were responsible directly to the Emperor. They were independent of any other demands than those of the Emperor himself and the Imperial Diet, at which they were represented and had voting rights. It was only in 1646 that Bremen finally obtained a written proof of her claim to be an Imperial city. This was the ‘Linzer Diplom’ by which the Emperor stated that Bremen enjoyed the same rights and position as the other cities with the same status.[16]

In the second half of the sixteenth century this seemed to be still very far away. The people of Bremen had to deal with a bishop who tried to gain new territorial power over Bremen itself and the surrounding regions. Henry was a member of the dynasty ruling the Duchy of Saxony-Lauenburg. The area over which this house ruled could not consolidate its territorial integrity due to severe conflicts with the landed estates. Only at the end of the seventeenth century was it able to effectively oppose the resistance of its own estates and of the Imperial City, in addition to the rich and powerful Lubeck. The financial debts of the Dukes of Saxony-Lauenburg were notorious, allowing them no effective means to proceed against Lubeck, who, in 1395 had seized the town of Moelln as a security for the duke’s debts and diplomatically, and effectively, refused to hand the city back to its original possessors.[17] It is probable, therefore, that Henry saw his election as a bishop of Bremen as a chance to gain and consolidate a dominion. He tried to use Bremen as his power base for state building in Northern Germany. Before Henry was elected archbishop of Bremen in 1567, he had been installed into several other church positions. In 1574 he had become bishop of Osnabrueck, three years later that of Paderborn. His titles and powers are illustrated by the titles and heraldry surrounding his figure in a contemporary engraving.[18] This picture also clearly depicts the bishop’s self-representation at this time. His whole attire, his prominent personality and the sword inserted into the bishop’s hat, give the impression of this young man’s determination to strengthen his political position despite the problems he faced. Being the first Lutheran on the throne of the bishop, the disputes between bishop, canons and city community ceased over the confessional issue, though only in the first period of Henry’s reign.[19]

Henry’s election was only accepted by the cathedral’s canons because his father promised that as a reward he would renounce some of his rights in the city of Bremen. The men objected to the candidate not because of his Lutheran confession, which made it impossible for him to be recognized by the pope, but because of his youth. Originally his father and the cathedral’s chapter had agreed that the chapter would actually reign for the bishop, who in 1566 was only sixteen years old. But they did not take into account this young man’s will to use the possibilities his new position gave him.[20] Only two years after his election he had gained moral and political authority by helping to reach a compromise (the so-called “Verden Treaty” of 1568) between the differing religious and political attitudes of the council and burgher community in Bremen, which since the beginning of the 1560s was split over the city’s future confession, Calvinist or Lutheran.[21] But by being a Lutheran himself he subsequently and probably unconsciously helped to pave the way for Bremen’s conversion to the Calvinist confession, because it was felt necessary to face the threat the bishop posed to its independence as a uniform confessional community. Therefore, the conflict with the bishop saw the fusion of political and religious attitudes typical for this period.

The Struggle for the ‘Homagium’

If the archbishop actually had managed to gain political or moral domination over the city, Bremen would have succumbed to the strong current of the time to strengthen the powers of monarchically ruled territories. For this purpose though, a financially and politically stronger position than the one Henry of Saxony-Lauenburg actually inherited, was required. Both sides possessed neither impressive military nor financial means, which meant they resorted to propaganda as an effective weapon. Each personal encounter of the bishop with the burghers of Bremen gave rise to explosive situations. Each loss or lack of consideration over status in the ritual engagement of both sides could have been used in future political and juridical disputes. Therefore, it took a rather long period of time before Henry was actually allowed to receive the traditional ‘homagium’ owed to him as the overlord of Bremen. The magistracy of Bremen tried to postpone the event as long as possible, because the political ritual of a ‘homagium’ would have threatened their independence in the political sense that they would have been forced to acknowledge the bishop’s rule. Also, in a very concrete military and legal sense, the great entourage of the bishop inside the city walls could have regarded as a threat for the free position of the city council and perhaps even mean the beginning of a military subjection of the city. The ‘homagium’ also could lead to a representational defeat of the city’s magistracy by the juxtaposition of the bishop’s magnificent appearance and the rather sombre appearance of a typical Bremensian magistrate.[22] The legates of Bremen who had been given the task of negotiating with the bishop’s councillors about each step of the bishop’s entrance were well aware of the potential minefield of the situation. The negotiations were stretched over a long period of years, well documented by Bremen’s Syndic Widekindt in a report, which he wrote for the magistrates, in order to give them a legitimate base for their version of the so-called ‘homagium’ in later disputes.[23]

Negotiating the Ritual

Both sides were well equipped in the ‘diplomatic war’ preceding the actual event of 1580. The bishop’s side tried – step by step – to persuade the Bremensian magistrates to accept the bishop’s rules of the procedure while assuring them that the bishop did not foster any hostile intentions towards Bremen. Laying down the rules, the bishop’s councillors tried to convince the Bremensian legates that these were the ones “which were in use since ancient times.”[24] But they met diplomatic skills matching their own on the other side. The Bremensians would not accept the fact that the bishop’s rules of procedure would actually derive from ancient times. This they would only believe if written proof was given to them “[a]s such a demand is new and never heard before – there is no proof of it to be found in the council’s memorial book and there is no written source for this anywhere else, and as this was not used when the Bishop Christoffer rode into the city, as we have told the duke’s councillors, and we have bidden them to spare the city’s council and the city such innovations.”[25] Why did the Bremen legates insist on being given proof that the bishop’s demands derived from former performances of the ‘homagium’? The bishop’s councillors had used ‘old use’ in response to the demands of Bremen’s magistracy that the ‘homagium’ should be enacted according to tradition. The Bremensian city council tried to shift the ‘homagium’ into a reciprocal treaty implying this version to be the ‘old use’ of the ritual, using an interpretation of the bishop’s entrée. The bishop’s councillors instead wanted to demonstrate that the bishop’s quest for sovereignty was based on old and therefore, legitimate, claims.

The Bremensian magistrates utilised another weapon, irony, in order to undermine the bishop’s attempts to organize a demonstration of force and subjugation. They answered the bishop’s demand that each person of his entourage should have the right to enter the city with an unsheathed sword, not directly denying him this wish but reminding the bishop about the dangers of overtly forceful behaviour. Implicitly, they threatened that open conflict between him and the burghers of Bremen would break out during his entrée: “This [behaviour] could actually rise thoughts in uninformed and inexperienced people, demonstrating by such imperiousness that one wanted to govern and hold thesubditos (the subjects) more with virga ferrea (an iron rod) than with clementia et humanitate (clemency and humanity). From this there could easily rise manifold and unwelcome turbulences becoming uncomfortable for the duke himself.”[26] They reminded the bishop of the need to treat his subjects well and thus suggested implicitly that they knew more about the correct art of governing people than he did. The next argument nearly openly insulted the bishop’s honour: “No potentates and no heads of Christianity as emperors and kings have used such ceremonials and such unheard of splendour while celebrating their entrance as has been witnessed by many good people, just recently even the Archbishop of Magdeburg, the Primus Germaniae, did not do that.”[27] They accused the bishop of behaving in accordance neither to political nor ecclesiastical norms. Thus they depicted him as someone who wanted to break the overall lawful harmony, which was perceived as important in the political culture of this period.

The Bishop’s Entrée in September 1580: Burghers in Arms

After years of negotiation (from 1567 till 1580), both sides finally agreed that the bishop’s entrance should take place on September 25, 1580. Several commentators in Bremen described the ritual itself, from which a range of political concepts can be discerned.

The Syndic Widekindt’s narration expresses the legalistic point of view of Bremen’s magistracy. He enumerates all the facts relating to potential legal arguments. In his description of the first greetings exchanged between some members of the council and the bishop and his entourage on the outskirts of Bremen he emphasized the fact that there were witnesses of the meeting who heard the words exchanged between the two parties. His narration illustrates the significance that spoken words, gestures and rituals had in portraying shifting political and legal concepts in this period:”When the most important people saw that the legates of the council spoke to the duke in the field, they, the foreign and the domestic ones, moved closer together and formed a wide circle around the duke; so that each could easily watch and hear what was going to be spoken and negotiated.”[28]It was very important for the Bremensian legates at this first encounter that they were the ones who talked first. They did not receive the bishop as their overlord but as a foreign guest.

In reality it was doubtful who could claim the right to act first: the bishop had not only asserted his right to receive the ‘homagium’ but also to receive it while being accompanied by a noble entourage and 600 horses. The Bremensians had assiduously tried to avoid this show of force and the form of the entrée on September 25, 1580 demonstrates their complete defeat.[29]

The most detailed description of the bishop’s entrée, which enhances his appearance, are in the bishop’s annals of the period.[30] It reveals the mechanisms of a political representation relying on the use of splendour, magnificence and colour by which the bishop hoped he would impress the sombre city of Bremen: “The archbishop himself rode on a horse of a light brown colour, as all the duke’s horses were of the same colour, there were forty of them and decorated magnificently, he himself had been clothed in a black, velvet suit, with golden trimmings, his hat was of black velvet too, embellished by a golden wreath and red and white feathers. Behind the duke were riding six noble boys on horses of a light brown colour, adorned very beautifully with velvet suits, embroidered helmets, golden chains und silver daggers.”[31] This narration pays careful attention in evoking the magnificent appearance of the duke-bishop and the 600 horses in his entourage by describing the synthesis of colours in clothing and horses. Even if this spectacle impressed the onlookers in Bremen there are no testimonials recording reactions of the citizens in the way the bishop had hoped to raise by the organization of such an impressive demonstration of power. The member of the city council Henrich Salomon gave a rather short but wholesome description of it in his chronologically ordered notes of the events in the city. He depicts the bishop’s entrée as follows:”1580. On Sunday 25 of September Our Honorary Duke and Seigneur entered Bremen with 600 horses, accompanied by the Count of Lippe, a Young Gentleman, and a Count or Baron von Kreken from over the Rhine.”[32] Salomon reveals the status bound perceptions of his time by noting the exact numbers and names of the noble persons accompanying the bishop. He does not revel in either their own, or the bishop’s presence, but simply presents the facts concisely. Salomon’s reaction is rather typical of the whole pattern of the city member’s position towards the young bishop’s magnificent spectacle: not openly opposing the whole situation but reducing it to the sheer facts. He expressed no admiration, and thus marginalized the threat the bishop’s claim to power imposed on the city council’s own authority over political representation in the city centre of Bremen.

The City’s Syndic Johannes Renner in his chronicle, probably written in the 1570s and the first half of the 1580s relates placement along the bishop’s route, parish churches and names of the burghers in arms.[33] The syndic, in contrast to the Council Member Salomon, gave the burghers excluded from the city council a very important role in the city’s political representation in the bishop’s welcome.[34] Renner concentrates on modelling the city as a community built from three parts: the burghers in arms, being classified by their belonging to different parishes; the merchants; and the council members; all of which were integrated to the city’s exterior topographical and architectural appearance.

Gesture and Silence

The only part of the ‘homagium’ that Salomon relates in more detail in his diary is the moment of the ritual act of the ‘homagium’ itself. This narration gives some clues to the reasons as to why he actually reported this event and his opinion of those involved in the political ritual – the council and himself: “And the knights swore an oath to him, in the choir in front of the high altar; after that he rode from the cathedral to the council house, and the canonicals and the knights followed him on foot, and he went up to the council hall and was welcomed by the wise men,[35] and so were all who came with him, they all were received magnificently. And our syndic made a speech and welcomed him. After that he was seated under a canopy of black silk and the Chancellor Gedeon made a speech, and then our syndic responded, and I and Dirik van Reden, as old and new treasurers, gave homagium to our honoured duke on behalf of the whole group of wise men and the whole community by holding up our hands, but we did not utter a word, but gave our hands with reverence as it is becoming.”[36] What is the meaning of this rather puzzling passage? Salomon apparently wanted to underline the fact that the council was receiving the archbishop from the exterior (perhaps even as a supplicant) and not the other way round. They were granting the bishop a friendly welcome and it was in their power to give it or to deny it. The subsequent alternation of speech and counter-speech in Salomon’s narration underlines the council’s active role. As overlord and sovereign the bishop and his counsellors would naturally have been the first to speak as perhaps Henry did, but the city’s historical and political imagination did not really care about realities if they endangered its independence.

In the last part of the alternation of speech and counter-speech Salomon addresses his own role in the event. He wanted to enhance his personal reputation in the memory of the family and the city by ensuring that it was remembered that he, Salomon, was one of the main actors in this ritual. For him there could be no doubt that he and the other treasurer represented the whole body politic of Bremen. Thus Salomon is very clearly using the notion of political representation. His ability to represent the whole community of Bremen was disputed half a century later by the Mayor Heinrich Meier, who doubted that two treasurers could represent entire community. He used this argument in a pamphlet directed against the bishop’s sovereignty in the course of the struggle for realizing the promises of independence given in the ‘Linzer Diplom’ (1646): “The other argument therefore states/ that the mayor and council of Bremen/ have paid homagium to the seigneur Archbishop: But this is not true/ that such homagium has been paid either by the community of burghers (as happens in other imperial cities) and not by all and each person of the council, each man doing it, but only two of them were actually involved, council members who were temporarily treasurers.”[37] Salomon underlined his personal status in the political and personal patterns of communication. This is probably the reason why he wrote his diary. Therefore he concentrated on his important role in representing the whole community in a ritual which he clearly and openly classified as ‘homagium’. The fact that he stressed that no words were exchanged shows that he was also very aware of the fragility of Bremen’s position relative to the bishop’s demands. He gave the whole procedure the character of a reciprocal greeting, fitting the notion of the ‘homagium’ as a ritual marking a treaty of equal partners not signifying submission.

Meier instead wanted under all circumstances to lead his audience to the assumption that a ‘homagium’, in the sense of an oath sworn by subjects to their sovereign did not take place at all. Therefore he compared the procedure in Bremen with that in other imperial cities. He emphasized the fact that the two treasurers did not politically represent the whole city community. In insisting that for an ‘homagium’ to be legitimate the whole community, city council and burghers, should have sworn an oath to the bishop, he compared the ‘homagium’ to the oath of citizenship each burgher had to pay to the city and its council. A personal bound concept of rule is being contrasted with a modern view of political representation. Both concepts though are not indicators of a struggle between traditional communal ideas and modern notions influenced by Roman law, but they are used simultaneously in different contexts, as an attempt to underline the dignified and independent behaviour of Bremen and its city magistrates. The fact that Salomon mentioned that no word was uttered while their hands were being held, also subverted the bishop’s will of receiving the submission of the Bremensian council. The words spoken before and after the ‘handupholdinge’ could thus be diverted from the oath, which was then completely stripped of the meaning the bishop wanted it to have. The City’s Mayor Heinrich Meier could thus justly claim that no oath at all was sworn on this day in September in 1580.[38] The bishop’s side was clearly on the defensive here and referred in their response to the fact that the words uttered were not important, but what took place in the hearts of the people who held their hands up.[39]

‘Homagium’ and Hospitality: The Bishop’s Sojourn at Bremen

Salomon’s further narration continues by portraying the bishop and his behaviour during his sojourn in Bremen. Through his eyes we perceive a young dynamic man -as the bishop actually was compared to some of the council members- on a visit, not a dignified sovereign: “After that (the homagium) he rose and he was given all sorts of confectionery, such as sugars, green ginger, dates and some drinks, which he enjoyed and they were being drunk in the circle. After that he went outside and mounted his horse, he rode to Eler Breden’s stables, there he saw his uncle Count Anthon of Oldenburg, a young master, and his sister the Lady of Brockhusen, in the company of her youngest sister Clara, being at the window, he sprang from his horse, and went inside on foot, and took them with him to the house of the Dean Otto of Duren, where he lived, and the Honourable Council and the Aldermen were invited by him and he gave us plenty.”[40] Salomon does not mention the rather tense atmosphere Renner describes.[41] He tried by all means to evoke the impression that the bishop’s sojourn is following the pattern of a usual visit a foreign duke would pay to Bremen. This impression is further deepened by Salomon’s narration of the bishop greeting his relatives in Bremen and experiencing a session of the city council. This ‘sightseeing’ followed the common pattern of a visit by foreign nobles to Bremen. It did not bear any juridical or political implications of the person’s status lowering the city’s own position.[42] The bishop was the guest, not the host.

The Confessional Side of the Conflict

Conflict loomed over the bishop’s exodus, too. Henry pressed the city council to take serious measures against a preacher who openly and polemically criticised the bishop.[43] The consequent procedure again demonstrates the diplomatic skills of the Bremensian council members. The preacher was sentenced to resign from preaching for five weeks. This measure did not mean to have fulfilled of the bishop’s request, but it was a superficial act done for the sake of appearance. There remains the possibility that the city council had used these preaching activities as an indirect way of formulating opposition to the bishop. At least they had obviously not prevented the theologian from preaching openly against the bishop and did not prevent him in the future by giving him a rather light sentence. It has to be taken into account that, unlike on other occasions, no records of the priest’s sermons can be traced in the sources. Most of the orders deal with the safety of the burghers while using the artillery in greeting the bishop, but do not give any prescriptions for their behaviour towards the bishop and his entourage.[44]

The development of Bremen into a Calvinist city was further accelerated by the bishop’s futile efforts to impose his will on the city, whose magistrates saw in the Calvinist confession the only way of guaranteeing independence from the Lutheran archbishop who claimed to be their overlord and sovereign. In 1600 the ‘Heidelberger Catechism’ was introduced. Bremen became a Calvinist community.

The Republican Answer: Marginalizing the Sovereign

Archbishop Henry had gained a single victory by imposing the realization of his formal ‘homagium’ on the citizenship of Bremen. But he had not succeeded in receiving any permanent advantage in his pursuit of sovereignty over the city, which he would visit only once again on a hurried visit overnight before he died in 1585.[45] The Bishops of Bremen tried to impose their sovereignty up until the time the Swedes took over that role in the last years of the Thirty Years’ War. They met a pattern of resistance that was motivated by a determined will to gain and secure Bremen’s independence. The Bremensian magistracy knew that it would have been in a weaker position had the conflict escalated. Defeated at first they gained a more stable victory by modelling the political representation of the event and of the relationship between themselves and the bishop according to their own aims. As a result they were able to separate Bremen as a city community legally and confessionally from the bishop’s sphere of influence. When they were forced to pay formal tribute to the bishop, they marginalized his presence in the city’s political and historical self-representation, turning a ‘homagium’ into a display of Bremensian hospitality. In each application of the notions of political representation in the narrower sense of the word there are differences revealed in the use of Roman law and ancient conceptions of a city community. These uses though do not tell us something about the modernity or backwardness of the different speakers, but about their use of these different notions in order to strengthen the city’s role and representation against the bishop’s person. Their behaviour can be classified as an example of early modern republicanism, which was not only, and not very often, expressed in treatises of classical political philosophy but in the more subtle ways of formalized behaviour.



Figure 1: Painting showing the Emperor Charlemagne and the first bishop of Bremen Willehad by Bartholomäus de Bruyn the Elder in 1532. (Rolf Gramatzki, Das Rathaus in Bremen. Versuch zu seiner Ikonologie , H.M. Hauschild GmbH: Bremen 1994), p. 67.

Figure 2: engraving showing Archbishop Henry from the house of Saxony-Lauenberg (Hermannus Hamelmannus,Oldenburgische Chronicon. Das ist/ Neschreibung der Löblichen Uhralten Grafen zu Oldenburg und Delmenhorst…, newly printed version of the first edition of 1599), Heinz Holzberg: Oldenburg 1983, p. 434.


Figure 3: detail of a painting by an unknown master of the middle of the seventeenth century showing a wedding procession at the Bremensian market place: the black sombre appearance of the male city council members is contrasted by the red of the woman’s dresses and of the Roland’s coat.(Focke-Museum. Museum for Bremensian Art and Cultural History, the photographer is Jürgen Nogai).

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[1] For the exact citation of the sources see notes 28 to 34 relating to “The bishop’s entrée in September 1580” below. Back

[2] For a study concentrating on the juridical implications of the word see Hasso Hofmann, Repräsentation. Studien zur Wort- und Begriffsgeschichte von der Antike bis ins 19. Jahrhundert, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1998, see especially pp. 15-37; for a concise summary of the state of research in the historical field and further differentiation of the concept of representation see Frank Hatje,Repräsentationen der Staatsgewalt. Herrschaftsstrukturen und Selbstdarstellung in Hamburg 1700-1900, Helbig & Lichtenhahn, Basel and Frankfurt am Main, 1997, pp. 11-74. Back

[3] For example, Wolfgang Reinhard,Geschichte der Staatsgewalt. Eine vergleichende Verfassungsgeschichte Europas von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, C.H. Beck, Munich 2000, p. 31.Back

[4] This notion derives from antique origin: compare Carl Andresen, “Erlösung”, in Ernst Dassmann, Theodor Klauser, Franz Joseph Hölger (eds), Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum: Sachwörterbuch zur Auseinandersetzung des Christentums mit der antiken Welt, vol. 6: Erfüllung-Exitus illustrium virorum, Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1966, pp. 54-219, for political representation in late antiquity see pp. 160-184.Back

[5] See Clifford Geertz, “Kings, Centers and Charisma: Reflections on the Symbolics of Power”, in Joseph Ben-David (ed.), Culture and its Creators. Essays in Honor of Edward Shils, University of Chicago Press, Chicago/London, 1977, pp. 150-171. Back

[6] For the use of the concept of ‘crisis’ in interpreting the period around 1600 see Heinz Schilling, “The European Crisis of the 1590s: the Situation in German Towns”, in Peter Clark (ed.), The Crisis of the 1590s, Allen & Unwin, London, 1985, pp. 135-156. Back

[7] See Heinz Schilling, “Confessional and Political Identity in Europe at the Beginning of Modern Times (Fifteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)”, Concilium, vol. 6, 1995, pp. 1-13. Back

[8] (Henrich Krefting), Discursus Clarissimi Consultissimi Viri Dn. Henrici Kreftingii I.U.D. et Reipublicae Bremensis Syndici ac Senatoris primarii de Republica Bremensi, Ms., 2-P.1.-8, State Archive of Bremen. Back

[9] Compare Heinz Schilling, “Die politische Elite nordwestdeutscher Städte in den religiösen Auseinandersetzungen des 16. Jahrhunderts”, in Wolfgang J. Mommsen (ed.),Stadtbürgertum und Adel in der Reformation. Studien zur Sozialgeschichte der Reformation in England und Deutschland. The Urban Classes, the Nobility and the Reformation. Studies on the Social History of the Reformation in England and Germany, Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1979, pp. 235-308.Back

[10] He lived from 1550-1585, in 1566 he was elected bishop of Bremen and in 1575 he married Anna von Broich; for the biographical dates see Karl Ernst Hermann Krause, “Heinrich II, Erzbischof”, in Historische Commission bei der Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften (ed.),Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Elfter Band Hassenpflug-Hensel, newly printed version of the first version of 1880, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1969, pp. 506-507. Back

[11] A comprehensive summary of Bremen’s church history can be found in: Ortwin Rudloff, “Bremen”, in Gerhard Krause and Gerhard Müller (ed.), Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York 1981, pp. 153-167. Back

[12] He lived from 745 till 789. From about 765 he was doing missionary work trying to convert the Frisian people living at the North Sea. He became bishop of Bremen in 787. Back

[13] See Appendix, Figure 1. Back

[14] For a discussion of this and the details in this paragraph see Ortwin Rudloff, “Bremen”, p. 156. Back

[15] Compare Dieter Hägemann, “Karl der Große und die Karlstradition in Bremen”, in Werner Goez (ed.),Stadt-Kirche-Reich. Neue Forschungen zur Geschichte des Mittelalters anläßlich der 1200. Wiederkehr der ersten urkundlichen Erwähnung Bremens, Hauschild, Bremen, 1983, pp. 49-80. Back

[16] Dieter Hägemann gives an outline of this process of Bremen in his, “Bremens Weg zur Freien Reichsstadt”, inBremisches Jahrbuch, vol. 76, 1997, pp. 17-35. Back

[17] Erhard Schulze, “Das Herzogtum Sachsen-Lauenburg und die lübische Territorialpolitik”, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Hamburg, 1953, pp. 198-203. Back

[18] See Appendix, Figure 2. Back

[19] The reformation did not bring an end to the existence of bishoprics in the protestant North of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, they only became even less linked to the ecclesiastical qualities of the bearer of the title and therefore meant additional means for the leading noble families to acquire more positions and titles. The ‘reservatum ecclesiasticum’ of the Augsburg Confession in 1555 prescribed that bishops had to resign after their conversion to the Lutheran religion. This was very often neglected, as in the case of Henry, the first Lutheran on the bishop’s throne in Bremen demonstrated. Back

[20] See Wilhelm von Bippen,Geschichte der Stadt Bremen. vol. 2, C.E. Müllers Verlagsbuchhandlung, Bremen 1898, pp. 171-173. Back

[21] Herbert Schwarzwälder,Geschichte der Freien Hansestadt Bremen. vol 1: Von den Anfängen bis zur Franzosenzeit (1810), Temmen, Bremen 1985, pp. 250-251. Back

[22] See Appendix, Figure 3. Back

[23] The source for this is the relation the Syndic Widekindt gave Bremen’s city council. See the printed version in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht über die im Jahre 1580 dem Erzbischof Heinrich III. geleistete Huldigung zu Bremen”,Bremisches Jahrbuch vol. 6, 1872, pp. 155-222. Back

[24] “nach altem s.f.g. vorfaren loblichen gebrauche”, in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 183.Back

[25] “Dieweil aber eine solche aufforderung ein neues und unerhortes, als davon in des Radts denkelbuche und sonsten die geringste nachrichtung nicht fürhanden, zuforderst auch das näher mal bei Erzbischoven Christoffers hochloblicher gedechtnusse zeiten und einritte nicht geschehen, als ist solchs den fürstlichen räthen zu gemüthe gefüret und dafür gepeten worden, den Radt und gemeine stadt mit solcher neuerung zuverschonen”, in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 183. Back

[26] “Syntemal es insunderheit bei unberichten und unerfahrenen leuten die gedanken erwecken und machen konte, als wolte man sich bei solchem imperio einer sonderlichen severitet gebrauchen, und die subditos mer cum virga ferrea, dan clementia et humanitate regiren und unterhalten. Daraus allerhand ungelegen und ungewonheit leichtlich entstehen und folgen konte, so auch s.f.g. selbst beschwerlich fürfallen mochte.”, in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 196. Back

[27] “Ohne dass sich die grössesten potentaten und heubter der christenheit, als kayser und konige, bei iren stattlichen einzügen (wie das von vielen guten leuten gesehen worden), auch zujüngst noch der Erzbischof zu Magdeburgk, so doch Primus Germaniae ist, einer solchen ceremonien und unerhorten geprenges nicht gebraucht haben.”, in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 196. Back

[28] “Als nun die haveleute gesehen, dass die gesandten des Radts s.f.g. also im felde angeredt, seint sie alle samptlich, so wol die frembden als die einheimischen, zu samende gerücket und umb s.f.g. einen weiten krais oder rink gemacht; also dass jederman leichtlich konnen sehen und hören, was dasselbst geredt und gehandelt worden.” in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 197. Back

[29] For the Bremensians’ futile attempts to reduce the number of horses see Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, pp. 184-187. The Bremensians admitted more and more horses: first they would like to see only 300, then they were ready to accept 400, then 550. Back

[30] Parts of it are published in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht über die im Jahre 1580 dem Erzbischof Heinrich III. geleistete Huldigung zu Bremen”, pp. 204-206. Back

[31] “Der Erzbischoff selbst hat einen lichtbraunen gaul geritten, wie dan S.f.g. eigene gäule derselben farben alle, deren in die 40 und uffs herrlichste geputzet gewesen, auch einen schwarzen, sammiten leibrock, mit gulden posement besetzet, geführet, item einen schwartzen sammiten hudt, mit einem guldenen krantze, rothen und weissen federn geschmückt. Hinter S.f.g. seindt hergeritten sechs Edelknaben uff lichtbraunen gäulen, uffs schönste mit sammiten röcken, bestickten sturmhauben, guldenen ketten und silbern dolcken gezieret.”, in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 205. Back

[32] “1580. Sondags, d.25. Sept., quam U.G.F. und her tho Bremen in mit 600 perden, worunter de grave v.d. Lippe, ein junck here, und ein grave oder fryher v. Kreken aver Rhin.”, in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 212. Back

[33] See Lieselotte Klink,”Einleitung”, in Johann Renner, Chronica der Stadt Bremen Teil 1, University of Bremen, Bremen 1995, pp. IX-XVII. Back

[34] For a comprehensive summary of the development of the city council in Bremen and the access to the magistracy see: Herbert Schwarzwälder, Geschichte der Freien Hansestadt Bremen. vol.1: Von den Anfängen bis zur Franzosenzeit (1810), pp. 91-94. Back

[35] This is ‘wittheit’ in German, a special expression in low German, whose usage is changing, it can be used for the whole city council or just for the group of the mayors. The only definition can be found in the Zedler dictionary of 1748. See Johann Heinrich Zedler,”Witheit”, in Johann Heinrich Zedler, Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexikon Band 57 Will-Wn, newly printed version of the edition of 1748, Akademische Druck-und Verlagsanstalt, Graz 1962, cn. 1552. Back

[36] “Un de Manschup swor ohme wedder up dem Core vor dem hogen altare; darna reth he van dem Dome vor dat Rathues, und de heren des Capittels und de Manschup volgedem ohme tho vote na, und gink up dat Radthus und wart van der Wittheit sammt allen, de dar mede quemen, erliken entfangen. Und unser Syndic heeld dat word und hete ohne willkamen. Darna sat he under een hemelte van swarten syden und de Cantzler Gedeon dede dat wort, darna antwortede unse Syndikus, und ik und Dirik van Reden als olde und nye kemmerers huldeten unsen G.F. wegen der gantzen Wittheit und gemeende mit handupholdinge, averst wy redeten nicht ein wort, sunder geven unse hände mit Reverentz, wie sich das gehört.”, in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 212. Back

[37] “Das ander argument wil dahero/ daß Burgermeister und Raht zu Bremen/ den Herrn ErtzBischoffen die Huldigung leisten/ genommen werden: Es hat aber damit diese warhafftige Beschaffenheit/ daß solche Huldigung nicht von der Burgerschafft/ noch (wie in andern Reichs Städten wol geschiehet) von allen und jedwedern Persohnen des Rahts/ Man bey Mann/ sondern nur von zweyen Herrn des Rahts pro tempore Camerarii seynd.”, in Heinrich Meier, Assertio Liberatis Reip. Bremensis. Das ist der Kayserl. und deß Heil. Röm. Reichs Freyen Stadt Bremen Ehren-Freyheit und Standts Rettung/ Wieder Eine im Jahre 1642. unterm Titul Fürstl. Erzbischofl. Bremischen Nachtrabs/ angemaßte Confutation deß im Jahr 1641 anseiten ermeldter Stadt in Truck gegebenen Prodromi oder Vortrabs Gründlichen wahrhafften Berichts und Gegen-Remonstration von der Stadt Bremen Berueffung/ Session und Voto zum Reichstag in Regensburg zu bleibender Nachricht ausgefertigt Anno 1646, Arend Wessels, Bremen, (1651), p. 575. Back

[38] Meier, Assertio libertatis, p. 583. Back

[39] Meier, Assertio libertatis, p. 583. Back

[40] “Darna (nach der Huldigung) stund he up und öhme wort gegeven allerhande Confect, van sucker, gronen Enckver, dadelen&v. samt lutterdranck, Malvasie und Clareten, welches gesmecket und umme gedruncken. Darna ging he henaf und sat up syn perd, ret bet jegens Eler Breden stalle, dar sah he synen Ohm Graf Anthon von Oldenbourg ein jung heer und syne suster de Frau v. Brockhusen samt öhre jüngste schwester Claren im fenster liggen, spranck van dem hingste, und ging to vote tho öhnen henin, und nam se mit sick by der hand förende beth in des Domdeckens have Otte v. Duren, dar sine herberge was, und E.E. Radt samt der Wittheit und de Olderlüde wären by ohme tho gaste und tracterde uns wol”, in Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 212. Back

[41] Johannes Renner, Renner’s Chronika der Stadt Bremen IIter Theil, p. 386. Back

[42] Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 213. Back

[43] Heinrich Smidt (ed.), “Des Syndic Widekindt Bericht”, p. 213. For more detail see Wilhelm von Bippen,Geschichte der Stadt Bremen vol. 2, pp. 201-202. Back

[44] Compare Proclamatum wegen des bevorstehenden Einzugs des Erzbischofs Friedrich Febr. 1637, 2-P.5.c.2.a.1.b.Vl.1, State Archive of Bremen. Back

[45] Wilhelm von Bippen, Geschichte der Stadt Bremen, vol. 2, p. 201. Back