Show Less
Restricted access

Water, Towns and People

Polish Lands against a European Background until the Mid-16th Century


Urszula Sowina

The book describes the functions of water in Polish towns from the late Middle Ages to the beginning of the Early-Modern Era against a wide European background. It presents the issue of water supply in the context of the town as a complex social and economic organism, taking into account social relations, administration and power as well as living and working conditions. Describing water supply devices, the author reconstructs the ways in which the techniques were transferred to the Polish lands. She analyses municipal court books and documents concerning towns of various sizes in the Polish lands from the 14th to the 16th century, with particular emphasis on Kraków. In addition, she also considers archaeological and iconographical sources. Her findings provide a new insight into the alimentary and hygienic uses of water, its importance for production and crafts, and its use as a source of energy, transport and communication. This is the first broad comparative presentation of the subject in Polish and European literature.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Part I. Opinions concerning the quality of water in the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the early modern period


In the years 1524–1525 Jacques Le Lieur, a patrician from the Norman town of Rouen, a local echevin and one of the royal notaries and secretaries to the King of France, Francis I, described the water supply system of Rouen and underlined the major importance of water supply systems for every centre.21 In the foreword to his work, he stated: “Les philosophes et phisiciens qui grandement ont travaillé pour subtillement chercher, enquérir et cognoistre, tant par raisons naturelles que par longues et laborieuses expérienses, les proprietés et utilités des choses créés, uniformément et par sentence commune ont escript que l’élément de l’eaue entre les autres élementz et corps éléméntaires est tant proufitable, utile et necessaire à tous vivans, que la vye humaine ne pourroit estre de longue durée et persistence sans usage d’iceluy… oultre ce qu’il est nécessaire, est très décente et convenable pour rendre la vye humaine plus délectable, plus gaye et en meilleure disposition, en mundifiant, purgant et nétoyant les infections des lieux et places oú il flue et habonde, donc l’air est faict plus salutaire et moyns corruptile”.22 These words constitute a perfect summary of what had been written about the importance of water before J. Le Lieur. They resulted from what Le Lieur, a well read and educated man, had read himself, which is why they contain opinions formulated much earlier, i.e. in antiquity, and prevailing throughout...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.