On the Problem of the Size of Trading Complexes in Medieval Towns and Cities of Central Europe
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Wherever the town owners did not literally grant the settlement official, i.e. founder (Pol. zasadźca), or the commune itself, full rights to privileged trading facilities, they reserved the competences to shape the size, location and appearance of their complexes. Decisions in this regard formed an element of economic and fiscal policy towards the town, albeit not always – they could also be part of a planned vision of the town or city (the way space was divided could decide about the town’s economy), or flexibly adapted to needs formulated by the interested groups of townspeople. The size of cloth halls and rich stall complexes was supposed to reflect the economic potential of the town, and the size of the complexes of butcher stalls and chambers – the consumption needs of the population. However, in the latter case there were significant deviations, which manifested themselves in strict adherence to artificially established models and traditions rather than in flexibility. The data concerning the number of trade stalls, although still undervalued in historiography, are an important source for research into the history of individual towns and cities, even though they may be less useful for comparative approaches.
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