Yet they continued to multiply, and exercised at times considerable influence; though they had few supporters among the baronage, yet among the lesser gentry and still more among the burgher class and in the universities they were strong.
But, though now admitted to power through the burgher reaction, as a concession to democratic ideas, and to cause a split among the greater people, they enjoyed very limited privileges.'
Without being so forward as the rival city of Augsburg to embrace the architectural fashions of the Italian renaissance - continuing, indeed, to be profoundly imbued with the old and homely German burgher spirit, and to wear, in a degree which time has not very much impaired even yet, the quaintness of the old German civic aspect - she had imported before the close of the 15th century a fair share of the new learning of Italy, and numbered among her citizens distinguished humanists like Hartmann Schedel, Sebald Schreier, Willibald Pirkheimer and Conrad Celtes.
Here it is sufficient to say that, generally, the term free burgher' was a complete misnomer.
A mockery of popular institutions, under the name of a burgher council, indeed existed; but this was a mere delusion, and must not be confounded with the system of local government by means of district burgher councils which that most able man, Commissioner de Mist, sought to establish during the brief government of the Batavian Republic from 1803 to 1806, when the Dutch nation, convinced and ashamed of the false policy by which they had permitted a mere money-making association to disgrace the Batavian name, and to entail degradation on what might have been a free and prosperous colony, sought to redeem their error by making this country a national colonial possession, instead of a slavish property, to be neglected, oppressed or ruined, as the caprice or avarice of its merchant owners might dictate.