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(bûr`gərz), in the 18th cent., a party of the Secession Church of Scotland, resulting from one of the "breaches" in the history of Presbyterianism. To qualify as a burgess in certain burghs one was required to take an oath accepting the "true religion presently professed within this realm." Opinion differed as to whether this referred to the Protestant religion in general or to the Established Church. Those in the Secession Church who understood the oath in the former sense were the "Burghers," or the Associate Synod. Opposed to them were the Anti-Burghers, or the General Associate Synod, who refused to take the oath. The two bodies mutually excluded each other in 1747. By the end of the century both divisions were further split apart into "Old Light Anti-Burghers" and "Old Light Burghers" and "New Lights" in each division, over questions of civil magistracy. In 1820 Old Lights and New Lights were brought together again in the United Secession Church.



in the broad sense, all the inhabitants of a Western European city during the Middle Ages who were covered by city law—that is, all the members of the city commune, including the city’s patricians; in the narrower sense, the sense in which this term is used most frequently in historiography, the middle stratum of a city’s population, consisting primarily of independent master craftsmen who usually belong to guilds and medium-sized and small merchants.

The burghers formed as a stratum during the struggle against the feudal seigneurs (11th—13th centuries) for city land, a process of liberation from feudal exploitation. They were descended primarily from dependent peasants and rural artisans who had fled to or moved to the city. In the early stage of the development of cities (approximately up to the 14th and 15th centuries), city communes generally accepted these people freely as members (that is, as burghers), helping the feudally dependent peasants to gain their personal freedom. The mandatory attributes of burgher status were personal freedom and the privileges that derived from it—the exclusive jurisdiction of the city court and the right to control one’s own property, for example.

The burghers had an economic interest in the centralization of the country, and in most cases they supported the royal authority against the great feudal lords. With the emergence of the so-called estate monarchy, the burghers, who had grown economically, won the right to participate in representative-estate institutions and finally became an estate in feudal society. Generally speaking, only the rich burgher elite was represented in the estate institutions, and it was this group that took power in those cities where the burghers were victorious over the patricians. The burghers occupied a dual position in feudal society. On the one hand, they constituted a tax-paying estate, unprivileged and lacking certain civil rights; on the other hand, they were a propertied stratum, the upper elements of which exploited the lower strata of the city. The burghers participated actively in antifeudal actions, simultaneously displaying the tendency to reach agreements with the feudal lords. The lower burghers frequently acted in consort with the plebeians and peasants.

The burghers played an enormous role in the development of feudal society. They facilitated the development of commodity-money relations and created their own urban culture, which bore the seeds of an antifeudal ideology and prepared the way for the humanist movement of the Renaissance. During the 16th-18th centuries, some burghers who had shifted to capitalist methods of production were involved in the formation of the bourgeoisie, while impoverished strata of burghers swelled the ranks of the city plebeians.


References in periodicals archive ?
The Burgher and the Whore: Prostitution in Early Modern Amsterdam.
hostage to history--not just the forlorn burghers of Calais,
What kind of overseas victory over calamity would it take to persuade the good burghers of St Helens to get out the bunting today?
The burghers of that town have not put up their council tax precept for the second year running - because they already have an 'embarrassingly high' amount of money and don't know what to do with it.
The French city of Calais commissioned Auguste Rodin to produce a public sculpture that would Day tribute to the burghers of Calais, heroes of the Hundred Years' War and emblems of French courage.
Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers (Sri Lankans of European descent)--lived in harmony until the 1970s, she said.
When I first heard that the good burghers of Frankfurt had, after many years, removed their subsidy from Forsythe--wanting I assume a touch of the old Petipa--my knee-jerk reaction was one of shock and outrage.
The former central library, a lavish 1903 Beaux Arts edifice, was built by the city's burghers as an innovative civic centre that also housed an art school and gallery.
Or with her '90s photographs of zoological gardens, or her series "Twelve," exhibited at Documenta II and composed of in situ studies of each cast of Rodin's Burghers of Calais?
I recently did a series of small maquettes for the Emmett Till show, and so I made a study of 'The Burghers of Calais.
The good burghers of Montargis (located just south of Paris) set aside a room in the town hall to memorialize local greats, and the pantheon they assembled is revelatory, running from the admiral turned Protestant martyr Coligny through the revolutionary orator Mirabeau to the Romantic painter Girodet.
The Sinhalese and Tamils are in the majority, and there are also Muslims, aboriginal Veddahs, Malaysians and Burghers (people of mixed European and Sri Lankan heritage).