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Reforming Interregional Commerce: The Leipzig Trade Fairs and Saxony's Recovery from the Thirty Years' War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2008


Wares are consigned to the Leipzig merchants year round from all corners of Europe and then sold during the trade fairs. Leipzig has three fairs: the first begins the Monday after New Year's and lasts two weeks counting the last week for the settling of accounts (Zahlwoche); the spring fair (Jubilate) begins the third Sunday after Easter and runs a total of three weeks; while the autumn fair (Michaelis), likewise three weeks long, begins the fourth Sunday of September. An indescribable wealth of goods is on offer at the fairs. With the foreign merchants and royal personages, the throngs of visitors are so great that it is usually difficult to find lodging in the city. The conflux of sellers and buyers is very advantageous, and during peacetime virtually every order is filled. Many thousands have never even considered provisioning their trade or selling their products other than in Leipzig, though the source of their purchases might lie closer to home. This is because of the commercial services and security provided by such a large fair, including the selection and quality of goods, the strong credit, a reliable circle of customers, a ready supply of bullion, and the efficient Exchange.

Copyright © Conference Group for Central European History of the American Historical Association 1999

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33. Ibid., 1:12–17; see also Commissions Acta, fols. 19r–v, XLVG.6b, StadtA Leipzig.

34. See Protocollbuch, 1:603, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

35. See the draft of the Elector's letter dated 21 February 1681, Commissions Acta, fols. 17r–19v, XLV.G.6b, StadtA Leipzig.

36. See the wholesalers' report from 26 March 1681, in ibid., fols. 36r–136v.

37. The following January, delegates of the wholesalers presented these statistics at the Wettin Court in Dresden and to the Saxon Diet. See Moltke, Urkunden, 41.

38. See the Saxon statutes-book Codex Augusteus oder neu vermehrte Corpus juris Saxonici … 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1724), 2:2013.

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40. See Protocollbuch, 1:104–5, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

41. Ibid., 1:106.

42. Ibid., 1:133–34.

43. Ibid., 1:107.

44. Ibid., 1:110–11.

45. Ibid., 1:121.

46. Ibid., 1:113–14.

47. Though the oldest guild book dates from 1477, the retailers argued that their privileges stemmed from the first city charters in the twelfth century. See Biedermann, Karl, Geschichte der Leipziger Kramer-Innung 1477–1880 (Leipzig, 1881)Google Scholar; also Moltke, Siegfried, Die Leipziger KramerInnung im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1905).Google Scholar

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49. See Steinmüller, Kurt, “Die Gesellschaft der Kaufleute in Leipzig im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert,” in Forschungen aus mitteldeutschen Archiven: Zum 60. Geburtstag von Helmut Kretzschmar (Berlin, 1953), 127–42.Google Scholar

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51. See Protocollbuch, 1:254–55, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

52. Ibid., 1:261–62.

53. Ibid., 1:262–63.

54. The retailers' reaction was so negative that the commission refused to communicate the report to the wholesalers, claiming it might create “Missverstand” between the two groups. See Commissions Acta, fol. 389v, XLV G 6b, StadtA Leipzig.

55. See the Retailers' letter from 9 May 1681 in ibid., fol. 171r.

56. Ibid., fol. 195r.

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59. For this guild profile see Protocollbuch, 2: fols. 31r–32r, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

60. Sixty-eight wholesalers signed the protocol from the first organizational meeting, see Protocollbuch, 1: 5–6, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

61. See the letter from Guild seniors to the Saxon Elector dated 13 July 1681, Commissions Acta, fol. 194r, XLV G 6b, StadtA Leipzig.

62. For a published list of Leipzig councilors identifying profession, offices, and dates of accession and death, see Vollbert, Johann, Summarische Nachricht von dem Raths-Collegio (Leipzig, 1783).Google Scholar

63. The Guild seniors listed the councilors Göring, Carpzov, and the two Wincklers as guild members, and the remaining merchants Lorenz, Beck, Bose, Ryssel, and Conrad as nonguild wholesale merchants and likely supporters of the Wholesalers' Association. See Moltke, Urkunden, 33.

64. Compare the signatures of the wholesalers in Protocollbuch, 1:5–6, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig, with those of the retailers in Commissions Acta, fols. 143r—v, XLV G 6b, StadtA Leipzig.

65. See the collection of geneological charts in Sammlung Ernst Müller: Leipziger Ratsgeschlechter (hereafter SEM), no. 148., fols. 1, 11, 12, StadtA Leipzig.

66. SEM, no. 129, fol. 67, StadtA Leipzig.

67. Ibid., no. 127, fol. 14.

68. lbid., no. 141, fols. 16, 17.

69. Gold- und Silber-Manufactur zu Leipzig 1619–1701, Loc. 33462, no. 52, SächsHStA Dresden.

70. See the published membership list for the Guild, Goldsmiths', Schröder, Albert, “Leipziger Goldschmiede aus fünf Jahrhunderten (1350–1850),” Schriften des Vereins für die Geschichte Leipzigs 18 (1935): 5556, 181.Google Scholar

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72. SEM, no. 125, fol. 80, StadtA Leipzig; and Fischer Aus zwei Jahrhunderten, 300, 472f.

73. SEM, no. 135, fol. 165, StadtA Leipzig; and Fischer Aus zwei Jahrhunderten, 173, 301.

74. See the entries for Georg and Caspar Bose in the author's prosopography of Councilors, Leipzig from “The Soul of Commerce: Credit and the Politics of Public Debt in Leipzig, 1680–1830,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1998)Google Scholar, Appendix A, nos. 7, 9.

75. See the entry for Heinrich Winckler, Jr., ibid., no. 27.

76. See the article “Grossirer” in Heinrich Ludovici, Eröffnete Akademie, 5:2277–82.

77. Commissions Acta, fol. 196r, XLV G 6b, StadtA Leipzig.

78. Ibid., fol. 197r.

79. Ibid., fol. 198v.

80. Ibid., fol. 140v.

81. A draft of the Council's letter is reproduced in Moltke, Urkunden, 10–12, and the final version submitted to Dresden 3 March 1681 is in Commercien-Wesen 1681–1699, fols. 3r–4r, specifically fol. 3v, Loc. 9881, SächsHStA Dresden.

82. Commercien-Wesen betreffend 1681–1699, fols. 13r–v, Loc. 9881, SächsHStA Dresden.

83. See the order to the council from the Saxon Elector to participate in the review work of the commission in Commissions Acta, fols. 25r–26r, XLV G 6b, StadtA Leipzig.

84. A draft of the City Council's appraisal is reprinted in Moltke, Urkunden, 64–69, taken from Commissions Acta, fols. 248r–252r, XLV C 6b, StadtA Leipzig. For the final version dated 18 October 1681 and submitted to Dresden see Commercien-Wesen 1681–1699, fols. 8r–15v, Loc. 9881, SächsHStA Dresden.

85. Commercien-Wesen 1681–1699, fol. 9r, Loc. 9881, SächsHStA Dresden.

86. Ibid. fol. 9v.

87. See minutes from the commission's meetings in Commissions Acta, 384v ff. XLV G 6h. StadtA Leipzig.

88. See the report from the commission's conference from 30 November 1681, in ibid., fols. 265r ff.

89. Nearly identical versions of the Diet's report are included in the Saxon Diet papers in Landtags Acta vom Jahre 1681, fols. 595–608, Kra IX 1 5, StadtA Leipzig; and in Commercien-Wesen 1681–1699, fols. 150r–154r, Loc. 9881, SächsHStA Dresden.

90. Commercien-Wesen 1681–1699, fol. 150r, Loc. 9881, SächsHStA Dresden.

91. See Protocollbuch, 1:634–36, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

92. See the 6 April 1681 letter entered in the wholesalers' records in ibid., 1:62–64.

93. Ibid., 1:57–60, 82–83, 196–200,

94. See Commercien-Wesen 1681–1699, fols. 168–170v, Loc. 9881, SächsHStA Dresden; and Protocollbuch, 2: fols. 55v–57v, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

95. See Protocollbuch, 2: fols. 60v–61v, 69r–v, 75r–76 Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

96. See Codex Asgusteus (Leipzig, 1724), 2:2023–45, 2111–34.

97. Quoted from Der Stadt Leipzig Ordnungen, Privilegia, und Statuten (Leipzig, 1701), 34.

98. Neu-eröffnetes Handels-Gericht (Hamburg, 1709), 40.

99. Rössig, Carl Gottlob, Kurze systematische Darstellung der Leipziger Handelsgerichtsordnung… (Leipzig, 1796), 23, 7–11.Google Scholar

100. The Bozen Court, established in 1635, drew from Florentine and Veronese practices, which entailed the inclusion of nonlocal merchants as adjudicators. A published copy of the Botzner Marckts Privilegia, 1635, 1681 is bound with the document, Commercien-Wesen 1681–99, Loc. 9881, SächsHStA Dresden. Brunswick created its court just before Leipzig in 1681. See Silberschmidt, Die Entstehung, 99, 120.

101. Silberschmidt, Die Entstehung, 92–96, 136.

102. For the first round of negotiations in the summer of 1681, see Protocollbuch, 1:413–20, Ha VI 1a, StadtA Leipzig. See the correspondence and conference protocols from the second set of negotiations in November 1683, Protocollbuch, 2: fols. 126r–142v, HaVI 1a, StadtA Leipzig.

103. The initial meeting between two Handelsdeputierten and two Kramermeister at the Leipzig Exchange is recounted in the protocol book of the Retailers' Guild. See Memorial 1666–1692, fol. 409v, Kra II 6, StadtA Leipzig.

104. See the guild protocol from the meeting of 6 April 1688, Memorial 1666–1692, fols. 411r–v, Kra II 6, StadtA Leipzig.

105. See minutes from the meeting of 6 April 1688 held in the guildhouse, Memorial 1666–1692 fols. 411r–412r, Kra II 6, StadtA Leipzig.

106. Of the 177 new members recruited into the Leipzig Council between 1681 and 1800, 75 were merchants. Senior retailers and wholesalers together provided the pool of merchant candidates for city office. Only eight of these merchant councilors were drawn from the guild, however. The remaining 67 were selected from the Wholesalers' Association. See the prosopography of Leipzig Councilors in the dissertation of Beachy, “The Soul of Commerce,” Appendix A.