Burgher (social class)

A burgher was a rank or title of a privileged citizen of medieval towns in early modern Europe. Burghers formed the pool from which city officials could be drawn,[citation needed] and their immediate families formed the social class of the medieval bourgeoisie.


Entry into burgher status varied from country to country and city to city.[1] In Slovakia proof of ownership of property in a town was a condition for acceptance as a burgher.[2]


Any crime against a burgher was taken as a crime against the city community.[citation needed] In Switzerland if a burgher was assassinated, the other burghers had the right to bring the supposed murderer to trial by judicial combat.[3]

In the Netherlands burghers were often exempted from "corvee" or forced labor, a privilege which later extended to the Dutch East Indies.[4] Only burghers could join the city guard in Amsterdam because in order to join, guardsmen had to purchase their own equipment. Membership in the guard was often a stepping stone to political positions.

Grand BurgherEdit

Higher ranked hereditary type of Burgher.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Guido J. Deboeck Flemish DNA & Ancestry: History of Three Families Over Five ... 2007 0972552677 "Those who lived outside the city could still become burghers but they would be "buiten-poorters" or outside burghers.23 The way to become a burgher was different from town to town and city to city; some cities required registration and ..."
  2. ^ Mikuláš Teich, Dušan Kováč, Martin D. Brown Slovakia in History 1139494945 2011 Page 49 -"Proof of ownership of property in a given town – that is, purchase of a house or land or acquisition of the same by marriage to the daughter or widow of a burgher – was a significant condition for acceptance as a burgher. Usually two burghers ...
  3. ^ Louis Simond Switzerland; Or, A Journal of a Tour and Residence in that Country 1822 "If a burgher was assassinated, all the others had a right to bring the supposed murderer to trial by judicial combat, assumere duellum; and the chronicle of 1288 adds a singular circumstance, Duellum fuit in Berne inter virum et mulierem, sed ..."
  4. ^ Ulbe Bosma, Remco Raben Being "Dutch" in the Indies: A History of Creolization and Empire. 9971693739- 2008 "... abandoned the idea of equal rights because not all Christians could be labeled "Burgher". II someone were subject to a local head, they were obliged to perform corvee, but anyone categorized as a Burgher was exempt from this."