Waste Management in Medieval Krakow: 1257-1500

Waste Management in Medieval Krakow: 1257-1500

Waste Management in Medieval Krakow: 1257-1500

By Leslie Carr-Riegel

MA Thesis, Central European University, 2016

Abstract: This thesis outlines the wastes produced in medieval Krakow – Animal, Industrial, and Domestic – and the efforts made to control them between the dates of the city’s incorporation under Magdeburg law in 1257 up to 1500. Applying a cross-disciplinary approach to the subject, civic notary books, chronicles, literature, archaeological evidence, art, and modern chemical analysis are all utilized to draw a picture of what waste in Krakow was like during
the medieval period.

Chapter one covers the city government’s efforts to manage waste buildup in Krakow, the inefficiencies of which lead to the continued rise of the city’s street level until the sixteenth century. This management is compared with that of other polities and shows that although the city developed impressive infrastructure, civic leaders failed to implement sufficient legislation, enforcement, and public services to keep Krakow clean.

In chapter two, industrial waste is discussed focusing on the most noxious trades – metallurgy, tanning, meat processing, and textile manufacture – detailing contemporary knowledge of the harmful effects of these activities and efforts made to manage them.

Chapter three focuses on domestic waste and outlines how residents dealt with rubbish in everyday life.

Top Image: Medieval Krakow, from Hartmann Schedl’s Liber cronicarum, 1493

Watch the video: The story of waste management in the UK (January 2022).