2007 | 55 | 2 | 161-175
Article title

SOURCES TO STUDYING THE HISTORY OF THE MODERN HOUSE IN GDANSK IN THE RECORDS OF THE 'VETO COURT' (17TH - 18TH C.) (Zrodla do dziejow nowozytnego domu gdanskiego w materialach Sadu Wetowego (XVII-XVIII w.))

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Previous research on house-building in modern Gdansk has not taken into consideration the records of the so-called 'Veto Court' (German Wettegericht), kept in the State archive in Gdansk. The Veto Court was a municipal office responsible for the execution of local regulations concerning trade and order, as well as for preventing unplanned building. Since the end of the 16th c. building a house required a planning permission from the Veto Court, which was issued on the basis of advice from expert carpenters and bricklayers appointed by the respective guilds. The permissions preserved cover over 200 years, from the end of the 16th c. to the turn of the 19th c., without significant gaps. The preliminary survey that was the basis of the present article concerned two books which recorded permissions from 1599-1698 and 1698-1746, and 12 sets of documents from the period between the mid 18th c. and 1814, containing notes from inspections of building sites. Altogether, the corpus available contains the impressive number of 8005 permissions from the years 1599-1745 and over 1000 expert opinions from the period between 1746 until the beginning of the 19th c. The formalized records, apart from the name, profession and position of the owner of the property, specify the place, the type of object, its size and location within the whole building and in relation to adjacent buildings, the character of the work planned, its scope and the material to be used. In some cases the Court set extra conditions, e.g. concerning the extent to which terraces, doorsteps, roofs, stalls and other annexes could protrude into the street. In cases of erecting a house after a demolition, or of restructuring an existing one, it was customary to include the measurements of both the old and the new building. In addition to surveying the sources, the author attempted a preliminary chronological tabulation of the material from the years 1599-1745. This has disclosed periods of boom and recession in house building. The yearly average for the 17th c. is 62, while for the years 1701-1745 only 38. Generally, in contrast with the boom in the first half of the 17th c. in the first half of the 18th c. saw a downward trend in the construction trade. The data from the Veto Court permissions can be analyzed quantitatively, e.g. concentrating on a sociotopographic criterion (the owner's profession), a structural element (terraces, stalls, shacks, dwelling cellars, industrial buildings), construction techniques and materials (brick, timber-framed or wooden houses), the activity of master carpenters and bricklayers, etc. Correlating those sources with other huge corpora of documents (e.g. probate inventories, guild records, land registers) can lead to very interesting results, contributing to a synthesis of the history of house-building in modern Gdansk.
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  • Edmund Kizik, Instytut Historii PAN, Pracownia Historii Gdanska i Dziej√≥w Morskich Polski, Al. Zwyciestwa 57, 80-207 Gdansk, Poland
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