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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 to the ranks of burghersEdit

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]

Duties and privilege of burghersEdit

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 labour, a privilege which later extended to the Dutch East Indies.[4] Only burghers could join the city guard in Amsterdam because 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 Creolisation and Empire. 9971693739- 2008 "... abandoned the idea of equal rights because not all Christians could be labelled "Burgher". II someone were subject to a local head, they were obliged to perform corvee, but anyone categorised as a Burgher was exempt from this."