Aachen complaints - Aachener Mäkelei

The so-called Aachener Mäkelei is the historical name for a time of massive political turmoil in the imperial city of Aachen , which had its height from 1786 and was only ended by the French invasion in 1792. It is comparable to the Cologne clique and similar situations in more than 30 imperial cities and is based on agreements within politically equal interest groups as well as mutual slander, intrigue and electoral manipulation between long-established, conservative council members, the later so-called Old Party , and those in the New Party organized reform forces, but ultimately also came from the Aachen upper class and acted similarly.

Both groups were distinguished by the fact that members of their families, who were often related by marriage to each other, held important positions in the city council of Aachen for several decades and their election, as it was noted in a council minutes from 1777, “through real taxes, Monetary presentations or promises made or taken unabashedly by other dazzling work or artifacts, furthermore the meetings of the guild members or even free carousing and drinking were really prepared in public wine and beer taverns ". [1] The historian Horst Carlinterprets the complaint as "an expression of the agony of survived and petrified structures, which the French Revolution and its consequences in Germany dealt the redeeming death blow." [2]


The Aachen Gaffelbrief, with its respective updates in 1513 and 1681, has regulated political life as the constitution of the Free Imperial City since 1450 . Among other things, he laid down the composition of the city ​​council , the right to vote but also the rights, duties and areas of responsibility of the individual bodies of the city council. At that time, unlike today, it was not parties from different political directions that faced each other, but two interest groups. These were on the one hand the aristocrats , who had come together in the so-called "Star Guild" and saw themselves in the tradition of the Carolingian Hereditary Council [3] and together with themPatricians and scholars made pacts, the majority of whom belonged to the goat, shopkeeper or foreman guild . Opposite them, on the other hand, were the various craft guilds , which in turn divided themselves into more or less important individual guilds with corresponding claims to power.

The established guilds made sure that the most important positions were filled from their own ranks, which was reinforced, among other things, by the possibility of belonging to several guilds. In addition, the members, especially the cloth and needle manufacturers, promised themselves a higher social reputation and implementation of their economic interests from an influential municipal office. So usually one of the mayors becameElected from among the lifelong lay judges, who themselves all belonged to the aristocratic class. The second mayor, on the other hand, came from a different, mostly upper-class guild and both were then officially civil servants. At the end of their one-year term of office, they were still part of the council as so-called “stale” mayors and could then be re-elected as mayors a year later, which was mostly just a formality and was more like an appointment. As a result, it often happened that certain “couples” replaced each other in office annually and were thus able to influence the fate of the city positively or negatively from their individual point of view over many years. Various other important positions were dealt with in the same way, thereby undermining the democratic participation, especially of the trade guilds, enshrined in the constitution. This obvious disadvantage was compounded by the fact that all guilds, regardless of their number of members, were entitled to the same number of council representatives, which gave the elite guilds, some of which had fewer than 100 members, an advantage over the various craft guilds, which often had more than 1000 members in their ranks.

Big Mäkelei 1786

These obvious flaws in the design of the gaff letter were known from the start. Already in the first gaff letter, therefore, warned against unfair election manipulation and their practices were first referred to as whacking . This complaint was not limited to the mayoral elections of each year, but was also practiced in the run-up to the elections of the councilor candidates within the guilds that had taken place a few weeks earlier. From the 17th century onwards, the described excesses of neglect came to a greater extent, after Gerlach Maw and his brother-in-law Nikolaus Fiebus had alternated as mayor several times and tried to find his son Mathias Maw and his nephewBalthasar Fiebus to install the younger as his successor. Even John Chorus , John Bertram of Wylre and Johann Wilhelm von Olmüssen negotiated from 1673 to 1693 on the same principle. Although the revised version of the Aachen Gaffelbrief from 1681 even made these methods a criminal offense, such practices were not pursued any further, as all legal and political decision-makers benefited from them themselves. Then, in the middle of the 18th century, Johann Werner von Broich and Martin Lambert de Lonneux and their increased protectiontheir intended re-election, the Aachener Mäkelei an initial high point. The New Party , which was now forming, did not change anything, as they used the same methods.

The terms old and new party had become an established term during this time without an official party program having been adopted. Members of the Old Party saw themselves as those people who had already held a magistrate's office for a longer period of time and defended this with conservative and traditional views. In addition to the aforementioned Martin Lambert de Lonneux, they included Johann Lambert Kahr , Cornelius Chorus , Johann Jakob von Wylre , Heinrich Josef Freiherr von Thimus-Zieverich and in particular Stephan Dominicus Dauvenand after the suppression of the uprising in 1786 Johann Michaels Kreitz . On the other hand, in the New Party, it was mainly the financially strong merchants, which included above all the cloth and needle manufacturers who had emerged from the economic boom in their branches of industry in the previous decades. Well-known representatives included Johann von Wespien , Peter Balthasar Strauch and Martin de Lonneux , son of long-time mayor Martin Lambert de Lonneux.

The mayor Stephan Dominicus Dauven ruled five times between 1777 and 1785, alternating with Heinrich Joseph Thimus as mayor from the guilds (mayor), using the above-described, constitutionally-compliant practices of mutual replacement. At the same time, Johann Jakob von Wylre ruled alternating with Joseph Xaver von Richterich as mayor of lay judges. Although the mayors of lay judges came from the politically more influential stratum of lay judges, in those years they were more in the shadow of their stronger colleagues from the established guilds. [4]

With the intrigues and hostility between the parties now escalating, the Aachener Mäkelei was striving for its absolute climax, which is also known as the Great Makelei of 1786 . Stephan Dominicus Dauven, who as a lawyer belonged to the foremen's guild (cloth and wool weavers) and who had earned a good reputation as a mediator in a legal dispute with the superior bailiwick of Jülich under its reigning Duke Karl Theodor , had to accuse himself of mismanagement and corruption by his political opponents to let. These opponents came from the ranks of the New Partyunder the leadership of Martin de Lonneux, also a lawyer, descending from an old patrician family and belonging to the star guild, whose father Martin Lambert de Lonneux himself led the fortunes of Aachen for almost thirty years, alternating with Jakob Niclas as mayor. In addition to Lonneux, this New Party also included his official colleague from the jury , Vincenz Philipp Freiherr de Witte de Limminghe, as well as two other lawyers, a hotelier and 14 merchants, including leading cloth and needle manufacturers, and together they aspired to be a competing elite to finally take power in Aachen. The New PartyIn the beginning of 1786 he finally wrote a pamphlet against Dauven and his city council with up to 80 objections, in which, for example, the desolate situation of the city's finances, the lack of earmarked justifications and bookings of sales proceeds from city property, an unsound tax policy that was not oriented towards the city's needs Influences and impairments of the annual elections, position fixing and nepotism for favorites and much more, were denounced. These allegations were vehemently opposed by the Old Party because they were unfounded and allegedly came from a minority .

This split continued into all the guilds, whose internal elections in May 1786 were already accompanied by tumults, threats and acts of violence, and in the course of which the supporters of the New Party received a majority of the votes. Dauven, the stale mayor and candidate for the upcoming elections in a few weeks, did not want to admit the loss of the old party and did not recognize the result of the guild elections, but was through a plebisciteinitially forced to recognize. In the next few weeks, up to the election of the mayor and other important offices on June 24th, the dispute escalated and each party tried to make their supporters compliant through massive money manipulation, promises, threats of violence, weeks of imprisonment, but also through civic festivals and the like. In a state of massive drunkenness, there were serious fights between the individual groups. When the old party under Dauven supposedly received a majority of 22 votes in the mayoral election , de Lonneux and his rebels stormed the Aachen city hall and accused Dauven of electoral fraud. Members of the New Party threw the previous councilors of theThe old party not only left the town hall but even banned them from the city. Dauven was forced to finally abdicate and fled together with the Mayor of Wylre to Burtscheid , from where they annulled the new resolutions of the self-appointed government. Street fights and weeks of anarchy followed .

At the end of July 1786, by imperial decree , signed by Franz de Paula Gundaker von Colloredo , Wylre was asked to return to Aachen and resume official duties. A week later a similar decree was received by de Lonneux, in which he was ordered, under threat of death, to evacuate the town hall with his people. De Lonneux did not leave the field immediately, however, and further imperial edicts followed, which were also ignored. It was only through the deployment of the troops of Jülich Duke Karl Theodor, commissioned by the emperor, on January 4, 1787, that the supporters of the New Party could finally be expelled from the town hall and Wylre reinstated as mayor.


The imperial troops remained stationed in Aachen until 1791 and many members of both the old and the new party were in the meantime before the Imperial Court of Justice in Wetzlarindicted and punished for their numerous political and criminal offenses as well as excluded from further elections and office. Martin de Lonneux was also arrested and served a three-year prison sentence until 1790. Despite this, the annual elections were not spared assassinations, manipulations and impairments during this time and were ultimately completely discontinued from 1790 onwards. Under the direction of Councilor von Dohm, an attempt was made to create a draft for a new, revised gaff letter, which was followed by others from the citizenry such as the publisher and representative of the New Party, Peter Josef Franz Dautzenberg . Nevertheless, the unrest continued unabated and was now subversive by de Lonneux and his supporterscontinued, hoping for a spill over and thereby a support of their goals by the French Revolution that broke out in France at that time . It was not until the first invasion of the French in 1792 as part of the First Coalition War and their occupation of the left bank of the Rhine as well as the subsequent takeover of the municipalities for the new Arrondissement d'Aix-la-Chapelle ( German Aachen) From 1794 onwards, the Aachener Mäkelei came to an end and this phase of political instability was finally ended. Many of the former protagonists had been completely financially ruined by the use of private assets for their campaigns and by subsequent lengthy, mostly lost court cases, and only a few came back to new offices during the French occupation. The member of the municipal council and its later president as well as Maire of Aachen, the cloth merchant Jakob Friedrich Kolb , a Protestant by default and a member of the Freemasons , stood after years of nepotism and anarchy as a representative for the personal and political upheaval.


  • Gustav Bausch: Mäkelei in the imperial city of Aachen. Aachener Verlags- und Druckerei Gesellschaft, 1910 (Marburg, University, dissertation, 1909).
  • Philomene Beckers: Parties and party struggle in the imperial city of Aachen in the last century of its existence. In: Journal of the Aachen History Association. Volume 55, 1933/34, ISSN 0065-0137 , pp. 1-40, (special print. Verlag Aachener Geschichtsverein, Aachen 1935), (Bonn, University, phil. Dissertation, 1935), original ZAGV article on the imperial city flaws as well edited and provided with preliminary remarks as a pdf by Peter Packbier , accessed on January 22, 2016
  • Horst Carl: The Aachener Mäkelei 1786 to 1792. Conflict mechanisms in the old empire. In: Journal of the Aachen History Association. Volume 92, 1985, pp. 103-187.
  • Gerhard Heusch : The Aachen constitutional battles from 1786 to 1792. Noske, Borna-Leipzig 1927 (Cologne, University, legal dissertation from February 11, 1927).
  • JH Kaltenbach : The administrative district of Aachen. A guide for teachers, travelers and friends of local studies. Benrath, Aachen 1850, excerpts from GenWiki .
  • Karl Franz Meyer : History of the Mäkelei or the unfortunate party rival of the imperial city of the years 1786–1792. Unpublished work in the archive of the city of Aachen, but which consists of an extensive collection and chronologically ordered material from party releases, council resolutions, newspaper articles and documents from the French occupation.
  • August Pauls: Friedrich the Great and the Aachener Mäkelei. In: Journal of the Aachen History Association. Volume 48/49, 1926/27, pp. 1-23.
  • Anthology with four Aachen prints on the so-called Aachen Mäkelei. 4 volumes. Aachen 1788, table of contents .
  • Michael Sobania: The Aachen bourgeoisie on the eve of industrialization. In: Lothar Gall (ed.): From the old to the new bourgeoisie. The Central European city in upheaval 1780–1820 (= historical magazine. Supplement NF 14). Oldenbourg, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-486-64414-9 , pp. 183-228, here p. 193 ff. (Digitized version ) .

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Sobania: The Aachen bourgeoisie on the eve of industrialization. P. 194.
  2. ^ Horst Carl: The Aachener Mäkelei 1786 to 1792. Conflict mechanisms in the old empire. 1985, p. 103.
  3. ^ Christian Quix : Description of the city of Aachen and its surroundings. DuMont-Schauberg, Cologne et al. 1829, p. 74; Quote: The star guild, or that of the nobles, mostly consisted only of the lay judges . The canonici of the Münsterstift could be accepted into this guild, which seems to be a remnant of the previous offering and a reminder of the ancient constitution or government of the city, in which government the members of the imaginary monastery participated, and which arose from the free men was. Your Leufe (guild house) was the Haus zum Stern on the LA Nro market square. 1016. They also owned a meadow in front of St. Adalbertsthore on the Worm
  4. Cf. Luise Freiin von Coels von der Brügghen : The lay judges of the royal chair of Aachen from the earliest times until the final repeal of the imperial city constitution in 1798 . In: Journal of the Aachen History Association . tape 50, 1928, S. 1–596, yesterday S. 490 ff . ( Digitized version ).