Rise of Neuhaus as a textile production location

Trade & Craft

Weaving in 15th century Europe, "De mulieribus claris" (Wikipedia CC)

Since the late Middle Ages, the Pader has also been an important link in the value chain of the regional textile industry. The raw wool obtained from sheep breeding,[1] whose producers grazed on the river banks, was initially woven into cloth by „Spinner“ and „Wandmacher“, mainly in Paderborn itself. The first written mentions of wool weavers can be found in the 14th century via their stalls, which were set up by the guild in the basement of the gothic town hall.[2] A „walkemole“, which was probably located within the town, was first mentioned in 1376.[3] The wool weavers themselves leased two fulling mills at the same time a good hundred years later (1480), which stood in the immunity district of the Paderborn cathedral chapter. Their operation can be traced back to the 1570s.[4] „Tuchscherer“ (cloth shearers), who settled in the middle headwater region of the Pader as specialists in the finishing of raw woollen cloth (sheets), are mentioned in documents at the end of the 15th century (1491).[5] As the commercial centre of the bishopric, Paderborn must therefore have had a quite differentiated textile trade as early as the 16th century. In addition to the respected textile merchants („Wandschneider“, clothiers), the „Wüllner“ or „Wollweber“ (wool weavers) were also among the eleven privileged craft guilds in the city.[6] With the upswing in linen weaving in the second half of the century, linen dyers also settled in the city.

In addition to supplying the local textile trade, raw wool from the Pader was traded widely. Until the early 1620s, large batches from the bishopric went via the Rhinelands to Flanders and Hainaut.[7] In the 17th and 18th centuries, the commercial publishing house of Paderborn wall cutters probably also integrated rural looms, whose owners worked as sideline businesses, into the city’s textile production. It is possible that the Pader served as a waterway for transporting loads between Paderborn and Neuhaus. Its water power also provided the necessary drive energy for the three fulling mills that had been built along the course of the river. Pader water also served as a solvent and binding agent for the textile industry that was establishing itself in Neuhaus.

Weaving in 15th century Europe
Weaving in 15th century Europe, "De mulieribus claris" (Wikipedia CC)

[1] Cf. for the 16th-18th century Ehrenpreis/ Horstkemper, Paderborn, p. 70f. In the 16th century, sheep were „kept in such large numbers in the city’s Feldmark that the Paderborn police regulations of 1579 imposed a restriction on the maximum number per sheep keeper“.

[2] Cf. Schoppmeyer, Spätmittelalterliche Bürgerstadt, p. 340. A corporate „weavers“ guild, still without distinction between wool or linen weavers, is first mentioned in 1329. Ibid., p. 287.

[3] Cf. Balzer, Untersuchungen, p. 91, note 192.

[4] Cf. Schoppmeyer, Spätmittelalterliche Bürgerstadt, p. 360, note 444. According to the „Catalogus episcoporum Paderbornensium“ of the grammar school rector Hermann Kerssenbrock (officiating 1575-79), the 16 inner-city mill wheels still include two fulling mills; Schäfers, Heinrich: Die Standorte der Mühlen im südlichen und östlichen Teil des Altkreises Paderborn, Staatsexamensarbeit im Fach Geographie/ Gesamthochschule Paderborn, Manuskript masch. Paderborn 1980, p. 72. StadtA Pb, S 2, Nr. 1130.

[5] Cf. Schoppmeyer, Spätmittelalterliche Bürgerstadt, p. 287.

[6] Vgl. Ehrenpreis/ Horstkämper, Paderborn, S. 81f.

[7] Cf. Schoppmeyer, Spätmittelalterliche Bürgerstadt, p. 356. Schoppmeyer names Cologne, Aachen, Liège and Maastricht as further sales markets.

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This is an excerpt from an essay by the historian Prof. Dr. Michael Ströhmer. The original title of the essay is: "Wirtschaftsregion Pader - Eine geschichtswissenschaftliche Skizze (1350-1950)". Should you have further interest in the economic history of the Pader, we recommend downloading the complete essay (PDF file).

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