Rammelsberg Metallurgy Industry after the Riechenberg Contract The Prince as a "Princely Entrepreneur" from 1552 - 1620
Research in recent years into the mining and metallurgy industries produced significant new information on this major mining region. However, the results of the research also brought up new questions. The Historical Commission for the State of Lower Saxony and Bremen and the Institute for Economic and Social History of Georg-August University, Göttingen, then headed by Professor Karl Heinrich Kaufhold, therefore applied to the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony to set up a research project focussing on the history of the mining and metallurgy industries in the west Harz. The research work began in 1997, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.
The article is based on the results of one of the projects on the lower Harz mining and metallurgy industries from the early Middle Ages to the Thirty Years' War, which has now been more or less completed. As regards economic development, this era breaks down into three characteristic periods, silver and lead production reaching their peak in the 1560s after the boom phase at the beginning of the 16th century. After the 1580s, economic development of the lower Harz mining and metallurgy industries stagnated, not least due to a surplus of lead on the European market which meant competition for the Rammelsberg lead. After 1600, silver and lead production then fell rapidly to stand in 1621 at 39 % of the production levels of 1570.