– History of the Town
print of a facsimile from Matthaeus Merian from the
book "Topograhia Germaniae”. The view of
Warburg is from the middle of the 17th Century.
(Enlargement by a click on the mouse)
The town of Warburg is situated in the south-eastern area of the
former Prussian administrative province of Westphalia, where Westphalia,
Hesse and Waldeck meet, often so important for its historical development.
Two cultural and economic centres developed at an early stage in
what is now Warburg: the old town (Altstadt) and the new town (Neustadt).
The old town dates back to a castle dominating the Diemelfurt. Various
findings on the castle mound indicate habitation as early as the
9th or 10th century. During the 11th century, under the shelter
of the castle which became dilapidated and uninhabitable towards
the end of the 16th century and was pulled down in 1830, a totally
unplanned commercial settlement developed at a crossing point of
old trade routes. This situation remained until the town and state
ruler, the bishop of Paderborn, developed the old town according
to a plan. It is documented that the old town of Warburg already
possessed a town charter in 1191.
In 1281 the Paderborn bishop Otto von Rietberg brought the first
Dominicans to Warburg and gave them the small vineyard at St. Marien
for the establishment of a settlement there. In 1283 he also gave
them the old town parish church "Sancta Maria in vinea”
including bells, graveyard and the adjacent hillside known as the
The citizens of the old town were very angry and bitter about this
gift by the bishop because they were allocated the new town church
at the same time. The protest caused a row when the citizens of
the old town violently attempted to expel the Dominican monks from
the possessions given to them. It was only when the bishop threatened
the ringleaders with interdict and excommunication that peace was
re-established after lengthy negotiations and a contract was signed
in 1287 which ensured that the Dominicans remained and that the
old town parishioners got a new church. This was called "ad
visitationem beatae Mariae virginis” (visit of Mary to Elisabeth).
The Dominicans remained hereafter in undisturbed possession of the
church of St. Maria in vinea and the hillside where they shortly
afterwards erected a monastery church on high retaining walls. On
19 June 1299, the Bishop of Paderborn himself consecrated the newly-built
old town parish church (which is still the parish church today).
The new town of Warburg was founded by Bishop Bernhard IV of Paderborn
in 1228. It obtained its own city charter, a market, a town hall
and its own parish church. Like the old town it was independent
from the start. Both towns became members of the Hanseatic League
in 1364 as one parish.
The economic strength required for the early and relatively extensive
building activity considering the size of both towns was due to
already established manufacturing industries and local and long-distance
trading. Economic life was determined by wool and linen weavers,
tanners and beer brewers, "canners and potters”, even
bell-founders and an influential "Kopmann’s guild”.
In addition, the grain trade had always been of importance because
the grain surplus from the fertile soils of the Warburger Börde
could be sold through the Warburg "trade centre". Goods
from Warburg found their way to Holland in the west and to Hamburg
and Lübeck in the north.
Detail from the Germany map
(Enlargement by a click on the mouse)
At the beginning of the 14th century both towns were enclosed by
a continuous fortified wall of which four towers and two gates have
Both independent towns, the old town and the new town, were constitutionally
united as a "one-council” town for the first time by
the "Groten Breff (Big Letter)” in 1436. The construction
of a new, common town hall was immediately decided. This was to
be located on the border between the old and new towns and was to
be open on three sides: to the old town, the new town and to the
monastery with the monastery church. The master builder cleverly
solved this difficult problem with the massive arched hall. The
town hall was finally completed 132 years later in 1568.
half-timbered buildings of the old town – the
earlier the Dominican church "Sancta Maria in Vinea
(monastery church)” built at the end of the 12th
century, can be seen at the top – Protestant parish
church since 1826.
The former town hall of the new town of Warburg was located on the
north side of the new town market. It was destroyed in 1760 during
the Seven Years War in fighting between the French and the allied
English, Prussians and Braunschweig troops. During archaeological
excavations in 1984, the well-maintained basement walls and foundations
could for the most part be laid bare and documented. According to
this documentation this was a building 31.80 m long and 12.60 m
broad with outer walls 1.55 m thick. After the construction of a
common town hall on the border between the old and new towns, the
town hall of the new town was used as a school and "Stadtkeller”
serving wine and beer until its destruction.
The former town hall of the old town was a large stone building
with three-level gables. The main body of the building consisted
of a large basement, a main floor and an upper floor; it had almost
the same measurements as the new town town hall (31.57 m x 12.28
m), the walls were of heavy unshaped limestone. According to dendro-chronological
measurements, the building dates from 1336. The large hall on the
upper floor was used for local council meetings, administrative
activities and the town courts – civil and criminal. The room
was also available to the public for public and private events,
celebrations and also weddings. The town hall lost its function
in 1568 when the new common town hall for the old and new towns
was completed. However, it retained its function as a festival,
trading and storage house. From 1825 on the building was completely
altered by a private purchaser. It is still used today (1994).
The town hall of the united old town
and new town, built 1568.
of the entrance to the Protestant church "Sancta
Maria in Vinea” through an opening of the arched
hall of the common town hall.
The numerous multi-storied half-timbered houses from the 16th century,
often adorned with artistic engravings, reflect the self-confidence
and prosperity of the Warburg citizens and guilds. There were also,
however, setbacks. The plague epidemics from the 14th to the 16th
centuries continuously stopped the expansion of prosperity and economic
progress of the town. Each epidemic not only caused a drastic reduction
in the population but also resulted in a decline of the market due
to the reduced demand in the town and surrounding area.
The decline of the town coincided with the start of the Thirty Years
War (1618 to 1648). Economic decline set in; many buildings were
destroyed. In 1621 during the course of the conflict "Tolle
Christian” the Duke of Braunschweig appeared at Warburg. The
first attempt to take the town was thwarted by the citizens of Warburg.
After the fall of Paderborn the regional capital, a second attempt
was successful in February 1622 resulting in the ransacking and
occupation of the town. In a counter-move imperial troops entered
the town. In order to rob the enemy of possibilities for cover,
von Blankhart, the imperial commander ordered the cutting down of
all trees, hedges and bushes in the town. A memorial stone situated
in the former dividing wall behind the monastery church with the
inscription "arbores caeae” bears witness to this.
On the whole this war brought great suffering to Warburg through
occupation, burning and looting as well as the forced payments to
the various occupying forces. The city walls were mostly destroyed,
the population was greatly reduced and those remaining drifted into
poverty. The numerous deserted buildings and uncultivated fields
were also proof that these trying times had robbed the flourishing
Hansa city of its splendour and importance. Poverty and misery had
replaced economic prosperity. All well-fortified protective buildings
were also so badly affected that they were unable to offer appropriate
protection and safety to the town and its remaining citizens. Warburg
had also completely lost its function as a focal point of the Egge
and Weser region.
A ray of hope entered this sad period in 1628 with the establishment
of a public secondary school, known today as "Gymnasium Marianum”.
This was made possible due to a significant donation by Heinrich
Thöne (Thonemann). (See section on "Dr. Heinrich Thöne/Thonemann – founder of the Warburg Gymnasium").
Both the town of Warburg and the surrounding area were also seriously
affected by the Seven Years War from 1756 to 1763 due to enemy occupation,
continuous passage of troops and extensive requisitioning. On July
31st 1760, the two opposing groups, the French against the allied
English, Prussians and Braunschweig troops, engaged in battle at
the gates of Warburg ("the Battle of Warburg”). The English
and their allies beat the French and left Warburg to be ransacked
so thoroughly that the town and its citizens were scarcely able
to recover. The population declined to its lowest ever level of
2000 citizens. It is regrettable that thus the political role of
Warburg as the 2nd capital city of the principality of Paderborn
was at an end.
In 1813 Warburg was ceded to Prussia, became the main district town
and thus won back some of its former importance. A further improvement
occurred in 1849 with the connection of the town to the railway
network. During the following period Warburg developed into a busy
intersection. The population increased in the 19th century to over
5000 and the town expanded beyond the boundaries of its medieval
fortifications. Several town gates had to make way for the expansion
of the town. In the local municipal reorganization of 1974, Warburg
lost its function as a main district town which it had held since
1816 due to the merger of 16 previously independent local authorities
(extended district of Warburg); the seat of the district authority
was moved to Höxter.
The outstanding importance of the historical town centre today lies
for the most part in the preserved former double town structure.
Parts of the former town fortifications bear witness to the importance
of the town in medieval times and the old town is still partly enclosed
by these fortifications today. The view of Warburg from the south
is one of the most beautiful in the north-western region. In the
Diemel lowland, the old town with its Biermann tower stands out
from the slope. Above lies the town on the incline with the former
Dominican monastery and the common town hall, on the back of the
hill the new town with the gables of the old monastery church and
the mound of the former castle grounds.
town on the slope with the common town hall for the
old town and the new town completed in 1568 (top left
in picture) based on the constitutional unification
of both independent towns on the border between both
towns and the opening to three sides through the massive
arched hall – left in the background is the new
town church – on the top right is the "Gymnasium
Marianum” – first secondary school. 1628
due to the endowment of Heinrich Thönen (Thonemann).
The Homes: Half-timbered
houses – Stone houses
It is generally well-known that the houses in towns in the Middle
Ages were usually half-timber constructions as can be seen in towns
where these have been preserved in an exemplary way. Most of the
houses in Warburg were also constructed in this way. It was the
carpenter, not the mason, who had the most work and the main responsiblity
for the building. Certain indications with regard to building techniques
can be gained from later constructions where oak beams were put
to use a second time. In order to obtain a better understanding
of the spatial structure of the houses of that period (14th to 16th
century), it is necessary to imagine the social and economic conditions
of the time.
The social structure of medieval times was determined by the patriarchal
extended family which as an economic community was more pronounced
than in later times and comprised in addition to generations of
the nuclear family single relatives, servants and other dependant
persons. They provided themselves for the most part with food which
was usually taken from their own or leased gardens and fields and
had to be processed and stored at home. Usually a trade was also
practised which also took up considerable room and storage space
in the house. Medieval homes must therefore be considered as commercial
buildings in which only a small part of the main building was used
for residential purposes.
Cellars, the half of which were set deeper, were, as a rule, constructed
at the rear of the commercial rooms of the larger houses of that
time and were used to store provisions. Examples of these can still
be found in Warburg today. Most of these originally had a timber
ceiling and only became vaulted in the 15th and 16th century. Cabinet
niches with grooves for the insertion of shelves and traces of former
sealing caps or cabinet doors can often be found in the walls.
The well-off citizens not only had a stone basement but had also,
or instead, a stone rear part of the building on the upper floors.
In documents these constructions are referred to as "steyn
kamern” (stone rooms). These were also found in other towns
and served mainly to protect and provide safe and fire-proof storage
of the provisions for the extended household.
The early half-timbered houses were relatively small and modest
compared with those of later times or of the present day. There
were no ornamental engravings or carvings on the supporting stays.
The house framework consisted of high boarded wall props at large
intervals from one another connected by continuous scarf-joined
bars and cross-struts. The ceiling beams were mortised ("shot”)
through the wall props and cross-reinforced by simple lap-jointed
brackets. A fireplace was located in the back third of the inside
of the house.
In addition to the half-timbered houses ("hüser”)
and stone rooms ("steyn kamern”) there were also a number
of stone residential buildings in the Warburg old town. These "steynhüser”
were specifically mentioned in old documents and were owned mainly
by nobility and patricians. Since this upper class acquired its
income from feudal tenure, ministerial offices or the employment
of servants, a working room ("Deele”) with street access
was not necessary. The stone houses were generally accessed from
the eaves via the usually large sites and were probably surrounded
by several adjacent buildings. The oldest recorded stone house in
Warburg is the "Haus zum Stern”, Sternstraße 35,
dating from 1340 which serves as a museum and town recording office
today. For many decades it had been the private property of the
"von Windelen” family and was later used to accommodate
the Wormeln nuns after the destruction of the Wormeln convent by
"Tolle Christian” in 1622. It was later reconstructed
and during the Seven Years War served to accommodate numerous dignitaries.
It was acquired by the Rosemeyer family in 1787. Extensive reconstruction
took place at this time and the present interior dates from this
period. The town of Warburg acquired possession in 1921 which serves
as a town recording office and local history museum
zum Stern”, Sternstraße 35 in Warburg built
in 1340 – renovated and altered – since
1959 town recording office and museum.
In a wave of renovations starting in the second half of the 15th
century, numerous dwellings and stone houses in Warburg were replaced
by larger and more extensive half-timbered buildings. This was a
process which according to latest research also took place in other
towns such as Höxter and Lemgo in the late 16th century. The
oldest half-timbered residence of this group is the so-called "Eckmänneken”
in the old town, Lange Straße 2. The inscription on the storage
floor threshold reads: "M ccc LXXI hec. Domus est edificata”
(this house was built in the 1471st Year the Lord). This is the
oldest dated (half-timbered) house inscription in Westphalia. The
existing building is unfortunately only a faithful replica of the
original using the old components. The interior does not reflect
the first construction. The original house was used by the office
of bakers as a meeting place and was probably built and inhabited
by the guild master. Three carved "Wecken” (rolls) in
the inscription beam and a pretzel can be admired. The two carved
figures on the corner-stays facing the market place are not only
interesting but also give a vivid impression of 15th century fashion
with short belted coats and the gothic-fashioned tights.
"Eckmänneken” – house in the old
town, Lange Str. 2 is the oldest known half-timbered
house in Westphalia to be recorded in an inscription.
It was constructed in 1471 as a bakers’ guild
house – remembered in carved rolls and pretzels
– the two carved figures on the corner-stays facing
the market place give a vivid impression of 15th century
fashion with short belted coats and the gothic-fashioned
tights – today a restaurant.
In time the town residences in Warburg underwent gradual change
which was at first formal but eventually had an increasing impact
on the construction and spatial structure and division. Increasing
requirements for presentation of the middle class led to a considerable
increase in woodwork adornments with ornaments and banners. Complicated
medieval constructions were abandoned in favour of simple floored
buildings with mortised bars and stays. The increasing differentiation
between household functions and advancement in heating techniques
caused a gradual subdivision of the inside of the house whereby
the large hallway was reduced to a middle corridor.
The manner of living of the townspeople, eating and drinking was
also simpler than we would imagine. The history of "fine table
manners” requiring appropriately large and structured rooms
is relatively short. Even when taking into account the fact that
banquets were a highlight of noble life in medieval times, the prevailing
manners of those gatherings would scarcely be regarded as particularly
noble or commendable today. Up to the 16th century we still happily
plunged our hands into the meat bowl. It was only at the end of
the 15th century that the first forks appeared on the table and
plates were placed in front of each guest. The decisive turn in
the history of fine living emanated from France; especially through
the Sun King Louis XIV (1643 to 1715) brought about a change which
only very gradually reached wide sections of the populations of
The town's inhabitants
The inhabitants of Warburg – as in the "Großen
Brief” (Big Letter) – were divided into three categories:
"Bürger” (citizens), "Pfahlbürger”
(without citizenship and the right to settle in the town) and co-inhabitants.
Each of these groups had a different legal status. Co-inhabitants
were people from outside who had been allowed by the town council
to live in the town because their presence or temporarily practised
activity promised to be of common benefit to Warburg. These people
were obliged to observe the town’s duties and pay dues without,
however, enjoying civil rights. These inhabitants of the town were
thus denied both the right of membership in a guild or of holding
any kind of office.
In the Middle Ages citizens of villages protected by stakes and
wickerwork were called "Pfahlbürger” or "Ausbürger”
or "Schutzbürger”, i.e. inhabitants living outside
the town fortifications in the "suburbs” or also inhabitants
from the country who had acquired civil rights in another town.
As such people often attempted to avoid their duties as subjects
to their previous lord they were often forbidden from entering towns
at the instigation of the lords since the 13th Century.
The Pfahlbürger referred to in the Warburg subdivisions did
not belong to this category but were important in military terms
as representatives of the nobility residing in the neighbourhood
or surrounding area who shared civil rights of the town of Warburg
due to their need for increased security and the extension of their
political influence in the surrounding area. The town, however,
did not give these Pfahlbürger passive voting rights.
Only the actual citizens of the town therefore were eligible for
the office of councillor.
The group of citizens, however, was not a uniform block; the bourgeoisie
was itself subdivided; it represented a continuation of the medieval
hierarchical structure of society. Here also were groups in possession
of the actual city power, such as self-administration and town jurisdiction,
who cut themselves off from society as a whole and like the nobility
– claim and possess a leading role with corresponding special
To be more precise: not all citizens of the town of Warburg could
become town councillors; "council competency” was restricted
to only a certain circle of highly-regarded and affluent families,
the so-called patriciate. This phenomenon was most apparent in the
existing voting regulations whereby the new council was selected
by the old. This excluded any participation by the rest of the citizens.
Thus the majority of citizens were unable to influence the fate
of the town; control and power lay in the hands of a small rich
minority. The council thus became an instrument of the patriciate
families, or in other words: the council members were not real representatives
of the people. It should not be forgotten here that many citizens
– and this has remained so until the present day – are
not interested in taking up public office. The experience from this
period is that the middle classes, if able to influence the taking
up of political office in the town, still tended to leave the top
offices in council and administration to the old council family
lines and patricians. The reasons were, on the one hand, the extensive
political experience of the leading families and, on the other hand,
the work and costs involved for the person taking office.
Wealth and prosperity were in the hands of the patriciate, not the
mostly impoverished country nobility. The patriciate was generally
the lender of money for the nobility all the way up to the Kaiser.
The country nobles sought their (well-to-do) wives among the town
Entrance to "St Maria im Weinberg”
– end of 12th century – Dominican church
since 1283 – alteration of chancel in the 1st
half of 14th century – ridge turret neo-Gothic
1895 – since 1826 Protestant parish church.
view of the high altar of the Protestant church "St.
Maria im Weinberg”. The altar donated for the
Dominican church in 1666 was given back its original
baroque colour with its careful restoration in 1982/83
– altarpiece depiction "Mary’s entry
to Heaven” being carried away by angels.
importance of the Council (Rat)
The Warburg town council consisted of 12 persons even before the
merger of both towns (1436) and these elected a mayor from their
midst. A new election took place annually at the beginning of the
new year. Only the previous council was eligible to vote. This rule
already applied to the old and new towns before the merger.
The "Großen Brief” (Big Letter) of unification
of the old and new towns of Warburg in 1436 laid down the regulations
for the future common council which were also to apply to the annual
renewal of the council. The twelve retiring councillors elected
their successors as well as two mayors from their midst, each of
whom was to control the seal and chair the council meetings for
half a year. One of these should live in the old town the other
in the new town. This principle of one town council year and twelve
councillors corresponded to general traditions and customs of old
and new towns before unification. There were occasional exceptions,
also in other towns similar to Warburg, that some council members
could be re-elected to the new council. Warburg, however, like Paderborn
and Lippstadt, kept to the policy of annual replacement.
Although the council was newly elected each year, its composition
however remained relatively constant as council members and mayors
often returned to office every two years. Thus these offices were
basically held by a small circle of councillors. A large number
of patricians were elected councillor or mayor for 10 or 20 or even
old "Altstädter Rathaus” – a stone
building with three-level gables - high cellar floor
– built in 1336 as town hall. Festivities hall,
shop and storage house – function as town hall
1568 lost due to reconstruction of common town hall
for old town and new town – used as restaurant
The patriciate in Warburg felt an affinity for the nobility; relationships
were often forged through marriage. Frequently mentioned noble and
patrician lines during this period were the Geismar, Nabercord,
Ordecken, Gerold, von Menne, Thöne/Thonemann, Schlicker, von
Höxter, von Steinheim, von Listingen, Reussen, Volmar and Schepers
families. Several of these families were interrelated.
The leading councillors were not at all opposed to having tradesmen
in their circle. A certain amount of wealth, however, was a precondition;
as those holding office had to be in a position to put aside professional
activities in favour of the new position since - unlike present
times - councillors and mayors did not receive payment or compensation.
In general – as has already been mentioned – the citizens
had little or no interest in taking up public office. They obviously
felt themselves sufficiently represented in political affairs by
the rich, experienced and well-educated council families.
The governing council, however, did not hold exclusive power for
the one-year term of office. In certain cases two further committees
were involved, the previous council, known as the "Alderat”
and 18 "upright men from the locality” who were chosen
by the ruling councillors, 9 from the old town and new town respectively.
The chairmanship of these committees was held by one of the previous
year’s mayors. The precondition for the meeting of this committee
was an invitation, or rather summoning, by the sitting council.
The council was obliged to summon both committees only when new
laws were being passed.
With its twelve council members, Warburg was not unusual and this
number was also found in many similar towns and was only exceeded
in much larger towns; towns smaller than Warburg only had a fraction
of this number.
The complete civil jurisdiction was incumbent upon the town council;
the town judges had almost completely lost this to the council.
Since the 17th century the council court was also the appeal authority
for decisions taken by the town judge.
The Warburg council took efforts for the observation of the law
of the first instance ("jus primae instantiae”). This
meant that those wishing to become citizens or to take up offices
in the town had to promise not to take citizens or Pfahlbürger
to a clerical or external court but to the council court in Warburg.
The Warburg council also possessed a former sovereign right, that
of trade sovereignty. With the unification of both towns in 1436
this right was reconfirmed in the "Großen Brief”
(Big Letter) through the freedom to issue guild certificates; Warburg
also obtained further former lordly sovereignty rights which were
important for economic development such as customs prerogatives,
the right to mint coins and the control of markets.
Due to the expanded and firm autonomy the economic development of
Warburg continued after the unification of both towns.
During the 15th and 16th centuries the Warburg guilds enjoyed generally
secured prosperity which was partly due to their ability to produce
surpluses and to invest these profitably, e.g. investment certificates
of some trades guilds.
Since the 15th century Warburg council had market control rights
which had formerly been under the control of the state sovereign.
The council appointed one of its members market master to examine
the goods on offer at the market, determine prices and supervise
the use of weights and measures. In the event of violations fines
were imposed by the council.
Decline of the
power of the Council
The provisions of the "Großen Brief” (Big Letter)
of 1436 were generally observed by the Warburg council for the old
town and new town and lasted until 1667 – i.e. 231 years.
Records of council meetings show that the previous council and the
local committee were consulted on important occasions and the requirement
that one of the two mayors and half of the councillors should be
resident in the old and new towns respectively was also adhered
to. There was no change either with regard to the number of council
members or the two mayors. Council renewal as required in the "Großen
Brief” took place annually in the first weeks of January.
The sovereign in Paderborn regarded the extensive power with scepticism;
he repeatedly attempted to reduce the sovereignty practised by the
towns as well as the position and power of the council. Thus in
1580 in the name of the towns of the principality the Bishop of
Paderborn’s new coinage regulations were recognised by Warburg
In 1662 the Bishop of Paderborn succeeded in regaining control of
customs in Warburg. In 1613 intervention in the guild system was
also successful; likewise the centralisation of the legal system
was pushed ahead in the middle of the century. After many failed
attempts the sovereign succeeded in 1667 in administering the final
blow to municipal independence by the determination of a new voting
system for the council constitution. The impact of the Thirty Years
War and the disquiet among the Warbug citizens concerning what they
regarded as unfair billeting and contributions made it relatively
easy for the sovereign to make the long-desired intervention.
The Paderborn bishop Ferdinand II, who ruled the region from 1661
to 1683, issued the following ordinance:
"Und damit dann auch bei kunfftiger rathswahl der verdacht
aller partialität (wohl Parteilichkeit) eingestellt pleiben
möge, so thun wir dem bishero gehaltenen modum eligendi (Wahlmodus)
... hiermit aus landesfurstlicher macht und gewaltt und auß
dazu bewegenden erheblichen ursachen zumathen auffheben." ("so
that the suspicion of partiality in future council elections may
be prevented, we are herewith according to princely power, repealing
the hitherto applied modum eligendi (electoral mode)”.)
This state legislative ordinance by the bishop in 1667 repealed
the existing election system and replaced it with a new one. In
a general assembly lots were drawn from the six town Bauerschaften
(groups of farmers) to select two electors from each.
These 12 electors had to elect – without receiving instructions
– 12 men (no women!) from the citizenry as future councillors.
On the following day the 12 selected persons were installed and
sworn in by the outgoing council. All records and keys were handed
over to the new council. The new councillors elected the two mayors
from their midst.
The spirit of that time was indicated by a further sovereign decree:
"Damit es mit diesem eligendi modo so viell aufrichtiger auch
gehalten werde, so soll unser zeitlicher Gogräff daselbst als
unser spezialiter dazu verordneter Commissarius dieser Bürgermeisterwahl
nicht allein, sondern auch dem vorigen actui beywohnen und praesidiren,
die per sortem (durch Los) auß der Gemeinheit genohmenen Churmänner
auch hiebei kommender Form in ayde und pflichten nehmen" und
nach Abschluß des von ihm kontrollierten gesamten Vorgangs
noch entscheiden, ob nichts bedenkliches zu beobachten war. ("So
that it will be done much more honestly with this electoral mode,
our temporal Gogräff himself as our specially decreed commissioner
for this task of the mayoral election will not preside alone, but
also the previous citizen, and take the electors chosen from the
community by lot also in this form under oath and obligation”
and on conclusion of the entire process controlled by him will decide
whether there was anything dubious to observe.)
This meant that the three electoral procedures were to be monitored
and controlled by the state commissioner and that the election required
the approval of the sovereign. A municipal constitution formerly
based on autonomy was disposed of and the council demoted to a state
bureaucratic committee subject to the permanent control by, and
subordination to, a state official.
Thus the new regulations were not met with approval by the old,
tried and tested Warburg councillor families. A counter-offensive
was started with the selection of the electors by clandestinely
influencing the lot-drawing process ("corriger la fortune”).
These attempts were just as unsuccessful as the official entreaties
of the citizens and nobles to the sovereign. The situation deteriorated
when the next bishop, Hermann Werner (1683 to 1704) decreed that
a state collector was to be installed for both towns thus withdrawing
financial sovereignty from the mayor and council. It was only in
1739 that a slight correction was made by Bishop Clemens August
(1719 to 1761). The bureaucratic and absolutist regulation remained,
however, until after the days of prince-bishops.
church St. Johannes Baptista in Warburg new town (new town church)
Regardless from which direction one approaches Warburg, from the
motorway or the Warburg Börde, from Kassel or Paderborn, the
first sight is that of the high spire of the new town parish church.
This not only shows clearly the position of the Warburg new town
on a mountain ridge 60 m above the Diemel valley but also the central
position given to the parish church when designing the town. Together
with the market place – the town hall of the new town also
stood here as indicated by a plaque - it is situated at one of the
town’s highest points which rises slightly towards the south.
The reasons for and the timing of construction of the church is
connected with the origin of the new town. The new town is first
documented as an independent town with a constitutional council
in 1239. Bishop Bernhard IV (1227 to 1247) is known as the founder.
It is also probable that he initiated the erection of the church.
The appearance of the church today goes back to the careful renovation
between 1899 and 1908. The spire retrieved its gothic cupola in
1902 as it was shown in copperplate engravings by Braun/Hogenberg
in 1581 and Merian in 1647. The high altar in baroque style designed
by J.C. Schlaun in 1714 was broken off in 1882 and replaced in 1882
by a neo-gothic stone one designed by the Cologne architect Wiethase.
The pictures on the church windows are a qualitative example of
historical glasswork. The stone Renaissance pulpit from 1611 depicts
the church patron saint John the Baptist in the middle, underneath
the field with the coat of arms of the founder by Heinrich Buelicken.
The Latin inscription on the pulpit urges: "spread the Word,
insistently, whether convenient or inconvenient”. The following
are worth seeing: the gothic Pieta from 1370 and Christ in pain
from 1500, the late-gothic winged altarpiece "Charvinalter”
in the Herz-Jesu Chapel from around 1450 and finally "Baptism
of Christ”, a group of figures created by J.C. Schlaun in
A walk around the church reveals the use of two kinds of building
materials; the western parts including the spire and the later added
side chapel are of grey and white limestone, the chancel is of red
sandstone. Viewed from the market place, the massive 77m high west
spire dominates both the architecture of the square and the church
new town parish church in Warburg "St. Johannes
Baptista” - the spire retrieved its high gothic
cupola in 1902 - complete restoration 1899 – 1908.
new town parish church (Catholic) – the different
building phases are clearly visible.
and town debts cause economic decline
The regular occurrence of epidemics plunged Warburg into long-lasting
decline. There were several reasons for this: first the people
of the town itself were affected, and the death rate rose immensely;
second, with the decrease in population the town lost a large
part of its function as a grain market; since there was no demand
for grain as a result of the declining population even the business-minded
traders were unable to sell their products. This decline also
affected the production and sale of textiles. Thirdly, Warburg
lost suppliers from the surrounding area, especially the productive
Warburger Börde. The epidemics apparently spread from place
to place via the trading routes.
There was a further reason: During the 14th and 15th centuries
the decline was speeded up by numerous feuds. This was caused
by social restructuring processes and the lack of institutional
stateliness in the diocese of Paderborn. Added to this was the
financial weakness of the town of Warburg; money had to be borrowed
on a large scale; the citizens were nevertheless still solvent.
The insecurity in both the old town and new town could only be
reduced by improvements to defence capability. After the merger
in 1436 work was begun on the expansion and renovation of the
walls and towers. The Sack tower was built in 1443 as part of
this improvement program. The citizens of Warburg themselves had
to play their part in these improvements. Their contributions
were both of a financial and material nature; for example, the
"schott” a property tax, "perdegeld” (horse
money), "bolwerkes” a contribution to defence, work
on the town fortifications, "wachte” keeping watch
as a neighbourhood or farming community measure as well as certain
"duties and responsibilities”.
from 1350 – defence tower in the double wall ring
on the north side of Warburg new town (14th century).
From the middle of the 15th century measures were taken first to
reschedule and later to pay back the town’s debts. The annual
and weekly Warburg markets gradually became more attractive. The
exchange rates for Warburg coinage and Rhine golden guilders as
well as Münster, Osnabrück and Dortmund gold stamping
were determined regularly at the Warburg market from1480.
The Reformation and its repercussions also left their mark on Warburg.
Although the Warburg council had banned all agitating sermons in
its area of jurisdiction and defended the Catholic faith at all
opportunities, the meetings in front of the town gates could not
be effectively opposed. Due to the public appearance of the new
town priest Otto Beckmann who was born in Warburg in 1476, the new
doctrine could not be established; Beckmann like Luther, attached
great importance to preaching and made significant use of this method
of religious revival. He had studied in Leipzig and Wittenberg obtaining
the chair for grammar and had known and respected Martin Luther.
He accepted the need for Church reform but could not follow Luther
in his struggle against the papacy. He was so strongly affected
by a demonstration of opponents of the old church during Christmas
Mass celebrated on the occasion of his visit to his home town of
Warburg in 1522 that he gave up his professorship in Wittenberg
in order to be "teacher and reminder of the dear citizens (of
Warburg)”. He reminded the citizens that many were Christians
in name only and demanded that they attend the Sunday sermons. In
order to improve the faith of his hearers he undertook a series
of sermons on the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Using
Luther’s example he had the most important prayers read out
loud during Sunday mass. He criticised the indifference and half-heartedness
of the Christians and concluded that God would punish such indifference
with illness, plagues, failed harvests and infant mortality. His
activities in Warburg had a great impact due to his constant and
decisive advocacy of religious behaviour with the love of God and
human respect. The good preacher remained as priest of St. John
the Baptist Church in Warburg new town until his death. The fact
that reforming ideas stood no chance in Warburg (at this stage)
can certainly to a great extent be credited to him.