Abstract: The Manufacture of Linen in Early Modern Westphalia: Fashions of Products, Fashions of Organizing Production

Christof Jeggle


In the northern part of Westphalia, one of the main regions for producing linen, Osnabrück and Münster were important places for trading linen, which was produced in the countryside. After being inspected and branded at the so-called Legge, these linens were sold as bulk ware on the European markets for linen. Osnabrück remained the central place for this sort of linen, while the linen trades in Münster developed toward better qualities of urban origin during the seventeenth century. At the same time much smaller places like Warendorf and Borghorst started to host more professional weavers than Münster. The quality standards of Warendorf were copied by producers around Bielefeld, a new central place for trading high quality linen during the eighteenth century. A synthetic depiction of the early modern production of linen in Westphalia is still missing, but some general lines can be drawn. Following the fashions caused by changing consumer preferences for different sorts of linens produced in various places, the paper will show the protagonists and their practices of governance of the production markets. In this context implementing the Legge in some places seems to follow fashions of governance of production markets for linen.