Locations

From this page, you can pay a virtual visit to selected towns and cities once endowed with and/or associated with Magdeburg law: click on the links to read our detailed essays by international academics from a range of disciplines, such as history, archaeology and art history.

Banská Štiavnica (SK)

At the heart of Upper Hungary’s medieval mining industry

Alongside the great socio-economic changes taking place in Europe as a whole during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Kingdom of Hungary was experiencing marked processes of internal consolidation, with the scattered miners’ settlements in the important mining regions of the era beginning to evolve into towns. Banská Štiavnica (in German Schemnitz) holds… read more

Barczewko / Alt-Wartenburg (PL)

A civic settlement in the ‘Great Wilderness’, founded and destroyed within a quarter of a century

At the side of Lake Wadag, at the village of Barczewko/Alt-Wartenburg near Olsztyn (Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, north-eastern Poland), lie the walls of the first town of Wartenburg (Barczewko), destroyed during hostilities in 1354. Today’s Barczewo stands on the site of its re-establishment at a different location, since which time the remains of the first town have lain… read more

Berlin (DE)

Berlin-Cölln. Two medieval market towns on the banks of the Spree: how they evolved into a dual city assured of its place in the world

It is difficult to imagine the Berlin of today without its emblem, the bear, that graces its coat of arms. On pretty much any walk through the city, we will encounter it innumerable times, as a part of monuments, pointing out the sights, or in the logos of companies or organisations, transporting a sense of connection with their base. We know that Berlin took the bear… read more

Buda (HU)

A centre of trade and a royal residence on the banks of the Danube

In the Middle Ages, the area on which today’s Budapest stands was the site of a number of emergent settlements. One of them, Buda, rose quickly to supraregional importance as a royal residence and a centre of trade, and made use of its optimal location on the banks of the Danube and its long-distance mercantile relationships to attain the status of a key… read more

Gdańsk (PL)

A European metropolis of Magdeburg law

The establishment of a new town under Magdeburg law, proclaimed on 5 June 1257 by Duke Bolesław V the Chaste (whose reign spanned 1243–1279), was a foundational event for Kraków/Cracow in the true sense of the word. Notwithstanding the primarily legal and planning-based character of the endeavour, the city’s foundation generated significant… read more

Kėdainiai (LT)

‘Magdeburgien’ in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania existed between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries, in personal union with Poland since the end of the fourteenth century and in real union from 1569 onward. Among its urban settlements, the foremost were those – over 250 in number – endowed with the rights of Magdeburg law, under which they governed their own affairs… read more

Kraków / Cracow (PL)

A European metropolis of Magdeburg law

The establishment of a new town under Magdeburg law, proclaimed on 5 June 1257 by Duke Bolesław V the Chaste (whose reign spanned 1243–1279), was a foundational event for Kraków/Cracow in the true sense of the word. Notwithstanding the primarily legal and planning-based character of the endeavour, the city’s foundation generated… read more

Leipzig (DE)

Endowed with Halle and Magdeburg law between 1156 and 1170

The city of Leipzig in the German state of Saxony has a current population of almost 600,000, making it the largest in the German region encompassing Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The most powerful influence in Leipzig’s rich history is its long tradition of hosting trade fairs and serving as a mercantile centre of significance at European level. Its university… read more

Lviv / Lemberg (UA)

One city, four municipalities

The city of Lviv (L’viv/Lemberg) in today’s Ukraine is situated on what was once a trading route from the Bavarian cities of Regensburg and Nuremberg to Prague, Kraków and beyond to Constantinople and the Black Sea ports. Archaeological finds bear witness to settlement in the region starting in the sixth century CE. The first indicators of the city… read more

Magdeburg (DE)

From market rights to a widespread municipal law

The city of Magdeburg, famed well into the early modern period as the birthplace of the influential Magdeburg law whose reach extended deep into the eastern part of Europe, first finds mention in written sources in the year 805 CE, in the Capitulare of Diedenhofen (Thionville) issued by Charlemagne, who ruled from 768 to 814. Named as ‘magadoburg’, it was to serve… read more

Vilnius (LT)

A history of Christianisation and religious tolerance

The city of Vilnius finds its first preserved written mention in a letter of 25 January 1323 written by Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1316 to 1341, at a time when the office was not yet held by Christians. Gediminas’ letter was an invitation to Christians from all over the world, and particularly to merchants, craftsmen and tradesmen from German towns and cities… read more