Trading in the Main Market Square in Kraków

A model of Main Market Square in Kraków, source: wikipedia.orgCC-BY 3.0 PL

The Main Market Square once played a role of a market place with 400 stalls (merchants also put their merchandise in baskets on the pavement). Since the beginning of the 14th century and moving onto the 18th century, each part of the square was reserved for salesmen offering various kinds of merchandise; there was a coal fair, a lead fair, a Jewish fair, a fish fair, a bread fair, a cooperage fair and a crayfish fair.
Those trading were subject to certain rules: products were sold exclusively to ordinary customers until a flag fluttered on the mast of the Main Market Square (about 11 am), and then products were sold to merchants too. Thanks to this, merchants could not impact prices and could not buy out the most sought-after products. It was also forbidden to sell merchandise on the way to the Market Square. Jews could not buy until noon. Those who did not obey those guidelines risked a punishment of flogging or being locked in a wicker basket (from which they had to free themselves while watched by an amused crowd).

Elaborated by the Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums,
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 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.


Source: M. Ferenc, Handel, in: Obyczaje w Polsce od Średniowiecza do czasów współczesnych (Customs in Poland from the Middle Ages until the Contemporary Times), edited by A. Chwalba, Warsaw 2005, pp. 190–191.

See the photograph “Selling palms to be consecrated at St. Mary’s Church in Krakow in the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums.