The 13th century

The completion of the city walls

When Henry the Lion died in 1195 the largest part of today’s city centre was already populated. The two most important purlieus, Altstadt and Hagen, had their own fortifications whereas the purlieus ‘Altwiek’ situated in the Southeast was not protected by walls. Together they roughly formed the shape of a three quarter circle with the castle at its centre.

The circle is closed

During the first half of the 13th century the open part of the circle in the Northwest was closed by the planned construction of the purlieus ‘Neustadt’. It was immediately protected by walls and a moat and hence included in the complete city fortification initiated by Otto IV. Even the ‘Altewiek’ received a city wall. With this, the round shape of the city that was so convenient for the city’s defence had been completed.

Town halls come into existence

During the course of the 13th century citizens gained many civil liberties that sometimes resulted in total independence from their sovereign. The formation of city councils and independent jurisdiction made the construction of town halls necessary. These were normally situated on the market squares and were used for different purposes: council meetings, festive events, as a place of jurisdiction and for trading.

The view of the city in the 13th century

Besides the communal buildings more and more stone buildings appeared – some of them of considerable size. These hall buildings were representative living quarters of the upper society. They were mainly found in the centres of ‘Altstadt’ and ‘Hagen’. An essential aspect of private building was the stone constructions which in Braunschweig were traditionally called bowers. There were often part of a group of buildings that normally consisted of a half-timbered front building and a bower. The majority of residential and other buildings in those days were still made with a timber frame.

Explanations and hints

Picture credits

  • Rekonstruktionsversuch E. Arnhold
  • Städtisches Museum Braunschweig
  • Foto E. Arnhold