Dynamics of martial culture and the transformation of urban space

Subproject 3 will center on physical changes in the late medieval urban fabric. The combined effect of technical innovations (e.g. rise of long range weapons, including fire-arms), organizational changes and societal developments was a marked alteration in the character and layout of urban spaces, buildings and walls subject to military use. New building types (arsenals, armories, power houses), and areas cleared for shooting-ranges and town squares reshaped the physical appearance of 15th century towns considerably. The subproject will also probe resulting changes in the way urban space was experienced and, in turn, impacts upon urban martial culture generally.

Late medieval towns were physically transformed as the direct or indirect result of changes in military techniques and organization. Four phenomena (which have had only limited and uneven previous scholarly attention), will to be explored and connected to the question of urban martial culture: town walls as defining features of the medieval towns; the shift from scattered Waffenkammern and private weapon storage to prominent, permanent and public urban arsenals specifically used for the central storing, repairing, and distributing of weapons and armour; the appearance of buildings and open space dedicated specifically to military practice on town outskirts (Schützenhäuser, Schützenwiese), and the creation of new town squares available for military uses.

This subproject will investigate the overall impact of urban martial culture on the physical development of towns, and seek thereby to integrate military history into an important broader historiographical discourse on the interplay of physical and social ‘spaces’ in medieval towns.