The German Rathaus

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Graham, Michael Edward
Parker, Francis H. (Francis Haywood), 1938-
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Thesis (M.U.R.P.)
Department of Urban Planning
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Urban history is a topic which has been seriously neglected by historians who prefer to concentrate on the more glamorous intrigues of kings, queens, power brokers, and wars between countries. Yet, while the monarchs of Europe were fighting wars, the average person was moving off the farm, into the city and, in the process, forever altering the course of history.Particularly scant is the information we have about life in early German towns. Not only has little been done to explore this subject, but most of the research that has been done has been written in German, with little being translated into English.For my creative project, I will examine life in early German towns by researching the role that the townhall (Rathaus) played in the life of the city. This will be especially significant because next-to-nothing has been written in English about the fascinating role of the German Rathaus. Therefore, much of the research, of necessity, will be of German language sources.The Rathaus, hundreds of which dot the German countryside centuries after their construction, was a multi-purpose structure which served as a governmental and judicial center for the town, as well as a mercantile and social center. The creative project will examine the diverse and important role that this unique building played in the life of the medieval German city. In doing so, we will also come to a better understanding of life in the medieval city, an entity which Fritz Rorig describes in The Medieval Town as "one of the most important impulses in world history."(1)