Between Change and Persistence : Material Culture and Consumerism in 16th-century Frankfurt
Based on the analysis of private inventories, testaments, commercial papers, guild statutes, and governmental decrees, this paper discusses the manifestations of material culture and consumerism in 16th-century Frankfurt on the Main. Germany’s imperial city, it hosted fairs twice a year beginning in 1330, emerging in the late Middle Ages as a centre for both commercial and artisanal activities. In the second half of the 16th century, the town – Lutheran since 1533, but de facto multi-confessional after 1547 – became a melting pot of cultures, with a longstanding and steadily expanding Jewish community, and immigration from protestant Walloons and Flemings, among them jewellers, trim makers, and confectioners. Frankfurt, therefore, seems to be an appropriate case study for material culture and consumerism in a 16th-century German town.