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Title:Public Buildings and Civic Pride: Town Halls in Northern Germany, 1200--1618
Author(s):Rafii, Keyvan Claude
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ousterhout, Robert G.
Department / Program:Art History
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Art History
Abstract:This study examines the development of the town hall as a category of monumental architecture in the Hanseatic cities of Northern Germany. It traces the origin of communal buildings in this region from the earliest period in which they are known to have existed, the early 13th century, up to the decades immediately preceding the outbreak of the Thirty-Years War. The particular focus here is on three major communal structures in Lubeck, Bremen and Luneburg, all of which are distinguished by their complex architectural histories, in each case lasting for several centuries. These three town halls represent part of a wide-ranging phenomenon in the history of German communal architecture, in which the idea of a truly representative place of assembly for the burgher classes evolved rather gradually, from the simple to the sophisticated. In important ways this architectural evolution parallels the political fortunes of German cities themselves in the Middle Ages. Initially the towns were in the firm control of secular and ecclesiastical lords. Over time, however, the burgher populations of the towns, through successful development of commerce, and the skillful use of economic and political leverage over their nominal rulers, were able to rise to ascendancy in local politics, displacing the territorial lord and his deputies at the top of the power structure. The construction of a magnificent town hall was symbolic of their burghers' victory. As architectural symbols of civic pride, the super-extended building histories of the Northern German town also suggest that the very concept of civic pride was fluid, subject to change and refinement, in that what people considered worthy of pride shifted as the political stature and freedom of the urban populations engendered loftier aesthetic standards by which their most important public buildings were to be judged. In a sense, these monuments initially represented an expression of defiance toward established authority, but subsequently came to articulate the triumphant entry of the council of burghers as the new authoritative entity in the daily life of the city.
Issue Date:2003
Type:Text
Language:English
Description:457 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/87369
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3111629
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2003


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