Monumental Brass Society

Zacharias Ridt

Date of Brass:
Pozna , town hall museum


October 2012

The brass to Zacharias Ridt is a reminder of an era of Polish history when the reformed religion of the sixteenth century was not only tolerated, but stood a chance of supplanting Roman Catholicism as the main religion of the country. The brass is now in a glass case in the town hall museum in Poznań.

The Ridt family were successful merchants, the richest family in Poznań in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They were also present in Gdańsk. They dealt in draperies, silk, canvas and furs and had extensive trading links with German cities such as Nuremberg and Leipzig.

Zacharias and Hieronymus Ridt feature prominently in the records of Poznań. Zacharias was imprisoned in 1558 when Fuhrmann Sarbin of Poznań suffered losses on shipments of goods from those two cities for which Zacharias was responsible. He agreed not to leave Poznań before making good those losses. Hieronymus in 1560 was involved in the trade in wolf pelts, and received permission from the Council to visit the markets of Lublin. Hieronymus also provided a water supply to the house in the corner of the old market (Alten Markt) where he lived. The Ridts had two properties here, one of which was rebuilt on a magnificent scale in 1570. Zacharias opened a Lutheran school in his house in 1567, a teacher from Germany providing lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as scripture, but was forced to close it by Bishop Adam Konarski, who had the royal ear. In 1571, Zacharias shipped 25 bags of bed feathers and 220 skins of oxen to Leipzig.

When Zacharias died on 1 September 1586, Paul Gericius of the Augsburg Confession at Poznań preached at his funeral, calling Zacharias father of the congregation. This funeral sermon was published at Frankfurt-an-der-Oder the same year. Christof Ridt seems to have then taken over the role of Zacharias in the Lutheran community.

The Lutherans worshipped at the palace at Kórnik of Stanislaus, voivode of Poznań, last of the Górkas, and in 1595 after Stanislaus' death attempted to buy the palace as a place to worship. Unfortunately they were unable to do so without royal permission. Christof Ridt and his fellow elder Jakob Frobell had to stop building and dismiss all the workers under a penalty of 5,000 Hungarian florins.

The vault at the palace had been the burial place of some of the Ridt family, but Hieronymus Ridt's widow, who died in 1592, was buried in a vault in the churchyard of St Adalbert. Her coffin was discovered here in 1776, and was identified by a shield and inscription. The brass of Zacharias was probably also a coffin plate.

Zacharias' brass has a well-engraved border of strapwork and is most attractive. It records that the illustrious lord Zacharias Ridt, consul of Nuremberg and citizen of Poznań, died at Poznań in September 1586 aged 60, and was buried 'in this place' at Kórnik on 26 January new style 1587. This suggests a long delay. However the delay is exaggerated by the use of the Gregorian Calendar (the 'new style' date), introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582. This had advanced the date in Catholic countries by ten days.

The arms of Zacharias Ridt feature A wolf with a bone as both the charge and the crest. 

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

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