Kobieta w krakowskim przemyśle słodowniczo-piwowarskim doby wczesnonowożytnej w świetle testamentów i dokumentów podatkowych
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A Woman in the Malt and Beer Brewing Industry of The Early Modern Era in the Light of Wills and Fiscal Documents
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According to an unanimous opinion of many researchers, the period from the half of the 15th until the beginning of the 17th century is “the beer golden age”. Beer was a commonly used drink, and malt and beer brewing industry had a considerable role for the economy. In the half of the 16th century almost 150 breweries were run in Kraków, whose contemporaneous population is estimated to be circa 20000 people. There was one brewery to about 140 inhabitants. Many women could be found among the owners of the breweries. Kraków guild statutes do not directly specify the rules concerning company take-overs made by women, it is obvious, however, that they could only be run by widows. Similar rules were in effect in all Polish towns. About 10 percent of breweries in Kraków were run by women, and the most active ones gained considerable independence. These women accumulated substantial wealth, bought and sold properties freely, paid for their children’s education, invested in the development of their companies. Women did not participate in the production works in person, hired brewers were employed for this purpose. An average production in breweries run by women was usually higher than this of their male equivalents. It was especially evident in the moments of temporary falls of production, as well as during more serious crises. Although almost 40 percent of women ended their professional career in a time shorter than a year, a considerable part of women managed to stay longer, sometimes even a few decades, in the brewing industry.
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