Cologne in the Twelfth Century

Cologne in the Twelfth Century

Cologne in the Twelfth Century

Cologne in the Twelfth Century

Excerpt

The twelfth is the first century for which there is extensive documentation from the urban community at Cologne. Before the second quarter of the century, and in earlier centuries, occasional documents issued by the archbishop or the king, or narrative sources betraying some knowledge of Cologne, must suffice; but after 1135 a series of urban records, drawn up by the townspeople themselves, release the urban community at Cologne from relative obscurity. These records are presently located in the city archives of Cologne.

The form and organization of the documents reveal much, even apart from their contents. Beginning around 1135, the officials in certain parishes began to keep records of various transactions on pieces of parchment. These are known today as Schreinskarten because the records were single sheets (Karten as opposed to the later Bücher ) and because they were kept, apparently, in a box or chest ( scrinium or Schrein) in the parish church. Early entries on these Schreinskarten are, on the whole, more explicit and more detailed than later entries. As more and more transactions were recorded in the course of the twelfth century, the entries tended to become regularized. They assumed more of the details of the transaction and were explicit only in regard to the names of the parties involved, the locations at issue, any sums involved, and witnesses, if any, in the appropriate places of more or less standard forms.

As the entries became more numerous, the Schreinskarten also became specialized. At first, certain sections of a given Schreinskarte received a designation of a particular street or district in a parish. By the last decade of the twelfth century, separate Schreinskarten were kept for these districts. For example, there are eight separate Schreinskarten for divisions of Martin parish covering the period from ca. 1190 to ca. 1220. Three additional Schreinskarten in Martin parish are specialized . . .

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