Review:

Material Culture and Daily Life in the New City of Prague in the Age of Rudolf II, by James R. Palmitessa. (Krems, 1997).

This volume concentrates on data available for a very small section of Prague, the 'New City' neighborhood around the Horse Market. The information is primarily from inventories between 1547 and 1611. In several cases, data from multiple inventories (for instance on the death of one of a couple, then on the death of the other) is presented. 

The author gives a very detailed description of what the neighborhood was like, then discusses first various rooms (he calls them locations) that are mentioned in inventories, then profiles a number of different household types. Apparently, most but not all Prague homes had a Kitchen (Kuchyn, with a reversed caret thing over the N)-- some kitchens were outdoors-- and some had larders or pantries; special rooms for washing or bathing were not unknown though use of the public baths was widespread. 'Traditional Bohemian Sitting rooms' the Svietnice and Mazhaus (accent over the first a) were referred to often. The term cellar (sklep) was also often used but it's not clear what made a room a cellar, rather than another type of room. Balconies were apparently a standard fixture but they appear to have served the same sort of purpose as modern glassed in porches or Florida rooms in the US, since they were often used for storage!

There doesn't seem to be a high degree of organization/separation of possessions, since beds, cooking equipment, bridles etc. seem to be all found in the same room.

The author profiles the following households briefly:
 
Tables, tapestries, pictures, beds were all common fixtures. The author lists which households (66% of those studied) had books and how many, as well as other art objects. (There seems, as the author noted, to have been a scarcity of chairs though. Perhaps people sat on chests instead.)

-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa

(copyright 1991, Jennifer A Heise