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 were not only tolerated in Poland but stood a chance of supplanting Roman Catholicism as the main religion of the country, a chance that disappeared in the seventeenth-century amidst dissension between the main strands of Protestantism. The brass is now in a glass case in the town hall museum in Poznań.

The Ridt family was well-established in Poznań at that time and were successful merchants, the richest family in Poznań in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They were also present in Gdańsk and dealt in draperies, silk, canvas and furs and had extensive trading links with German cities such as Nuremberg and Leipzig. 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. Zacharias and Hieronymus Ridt feature prominently in the records of Poznań, the latter being involved in the trade in wolf pelts in 1560, when he received permission from the Council to visit the markets of Lublin. Hieronymus was also involved in providing a water supply to the house in the corner of the old market (Alten Markt) where the he lived. The Ridts had two properties here and that rebuilt in 1570 was regarded as magnificent. Zacharias opened a Lutheran school in his house in 1567, a teacher from Germany providing lesson 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 in on 1 September 1586, Paul Gericius of the Augsburg Confession at Poznań preached at his funeral, calling Zacharias father of the congregation. Gericius had his funeral sermon published at Frankfurt-an-der-Oder the same year. Christof Ridt seems to have taken over the role of Zacharias in respect of the Lutheran community. The Lutherans worshipped at the palace at Kórnik of Stanislaus, voivode of Poznań, last of the Górkas, and in 1595 attempted to buy the palace as a place to worship after the death of Stanislaus, but were unable to fulfil the contract as they were not allowed to convert it without royal permission. Christof Ridt and his fellow elder Jakob Frobell had to agree to stop building and to dismiss all the worked involved under penalty of 5,000 Hungarian florins. Nevertheless, the vault at the palace had been the burial place of some of the Ridt family. However, Hieronymus Ridt's widow, who died in 1592, was buried in a vault in the churchyard of St Adalbert, where her coffin was discovered when the vault was excavated in 1776. As it was identified by a shield on it which evidently carried an inscription, it seems possible that the brass of Zacharias was a coffin plate, as its main feature is a shield. It has a well engraved border of strapwork and is most attractive. It records that the noteworthy master Zacharias Ridt of Nuremberg, councillor and citizen of Poznań, died in Christ at Poznań on 1 September 1586 aged 60 and was buried in this place on the 26 January new style Anno Domini 1587, a delay perhaps explained by the evident problems the the Lutherans were experiencing in the city. When Frau Barbara Ridt died on 19 February 1601, her burial was recorded in the registers of the Kreuzkirche as taking place on 1 March, a more reasonable delay.

The arms of Zacharias Ridt feature a wolf with a bone both as the charge and as the crest. Christof Ridt's arms, dated 1584, are the same but have a motto added: Christus redemptio peccatorum.

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

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