A Burgmann (plural: Burgmannen) was a member of the low aristocracy in the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages who guarded and defended castles. The role is roughly equivalent to the English castellan and the name derives from the German word for castle, Burg.
A Burgmann was a hereditary knight and member of the aristocracy who was charged by the lord of the castle (the Burgherr) with the so-called Burghut or castle-guard. In other words, his job was to guard the castle and defend it in case of attack. As a rule, several Burgmannen would be resident at one castle and, together, they made up the Burgmannschaft. Burgmannen were sometimes also described as Dienstmannen or ministeriales. They were subordinate to the Burgherr or to a castle commandant (Burgkommandant) commissioned by him, who frequently bore the title, burgrave (Burggraf). Because the Burgmann was subject to feudal law (Lehnsrecht), legal disputes involving feudal matters were handled by the burgrave. The noblemen of the Burgmannschaft were often supported in their work by common staff such as gatekeepers (Torwarten) and watchmen (Türmern).
Originally the Burgmann was paid in kind for his service although he had to provide his own armour. Later, he was given a so-called Burglehn as a remuneration which, from the late 13th century, was a fixed sum of money. From the 13th century the rights and duties of the Burgmann were governed by a written contract, the Burgmannvertrag. In addition to the place and times that a Burgmann had to be present at the castle, it laid down the necessary armament and equipment. The duty to be present - called residence duty (Residenzpflicht) - required the lord of the castle to provide his Burgmannen with a residence free of charge within the castle or at least in its immediate vicinity. Such residences were referred to as the Burgmann's residence (Burgmannsitz), estate (Burggut) or court/farm Burgmannshof.
The residence requirement of the Burgmannen was superseded by the introduction of armed servants or Knechten. With the introduction of such non-aristocratic castle contingents and the move from castles to fortifications in the late Middle Ages, the Burgmann system disappeared, and the Burghut was discharged by Kriegsknechten and mercenaries.
- Burgmannen Retrieved June 20, 2009. (German)
- Horst Wolfgang Böhme, Reinhard Friedrich, Barbara Schock-Werner (ed.): Wörterbuch der Burgen, Schlösser und Festungen. Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart, 2004, ISBN 3-15-010547-1, pp. 100–101.
- Lexikon des Mittelalters. Vol 2. dtv, Munich, 2002, ISBN 3-423-59057-2, col. 965–966, 1055.
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