During an era marred by massive conflict with the bishop and sections of the clergy, the Guildhall complex (now the site of the Holy Trinity Church and the Guildhall/City Library) – which the council had demonstrably expanded since 1493, also adding ornate inscriptions, paintings and objects – became a representative stone symbol of the Imperial City's freedom, the claim by the town council to pass legislation and govern and a form of opposing pole to the cathedral.
For instance, the structural measures undertaken by the council, which exceeded decorative elements by far, went hand in hand with other aggressive efforts to demonstrate the municipal demand for sovereignty and the right to rule its own affairs (new town charter, new official seal, etc.).
The painting work that resumed in 1581 included a poem in honour of the emperor, an inscription proclaiming the freedom of the city, and a portrait depicting Kriemhild, Siegfried and two giants. The underlying symbolism expressed the principle of municipal freedom (Libertas) and the close alliance between the city and the emperor as head of state. The first tangible portrayal of the Nibelung and the myth itself in the form of dragons, mammoth bones and persons who feature in the narrative is particularly revealing.
All of this played out against the backdrop of the unauthorised occupation of the Guildhall by the council in 1494 and the relocation of the high court from the bishop's palace to the town hall, which the bishops had fought rancorously to prevent. Here – in front of Guildhall – the city had once before, in 1494, paid homage to the new sovereign Maximilian I and sworn ritual allegiance. It was also here, in this building complex that was raised to the ground in 1689, in the imperial hall to be precise, that the 1521 Diet of Worms held a large part of its deliberations.