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Didactic Commentary: Vilnius 16th Century - City Economy and Domestic Life

The reading of text of description of Vilnius city presented by S. Herberstein would be enough for performance of the first task by theme “The Russian Columbus” about Vilnius of 16th century. It means the translation into English of that place of text in the issue of 19th c. (or read in German language in the publication of 20th c., if it is possible to read in German).  However, we presented some information concerning S. Herberstein himself, gave the links to the digital 16th c. publications of his work not for the purpose of intent reading from the 16th c. books, but for the purpose that the students could merely see the pictures of those old publications and leastwise feel some of those impressions, which could have been felt by the readers of 16th c. when seeing the book of S. Herberstein. It is recommended for a teacher during the lesson or for a lecturer during the auditorium practice to show the pictures of the first issued of S. Herberstein’s books on the screen with projector. And the intent reading of the description of Vilnius is recommended for the separate analysis of the text.

While performing the second task, it needs to keep in mind that Vilnius in 16th c. was the capital of one of the largest European states, therefore, it had many resources for prosperity, because when the old Lithuania was larger, it was easier to collect more scots and state taxes. Of course, the main city of the country was getting stronger due this.

While performing the third task, comparing the pictures of cities present in the Braun’s atlas, a team work is possible. It means that a group of several persons distributes what certain views will be seen in the Braun’s atlas, then shares the results of observation and prepares a short report on a collective exploration. A team work should quicken the exploration, for there are many views of the cities in the Braun’s atlas. Having performed the exploration and summarized its results, a discussion of general character about the proportion of wooden and brick buildings in various towns generally is possible.

Now Vilnius city is surrounded by forests. There are many parks, pinewoods, trees, green areas in the very city. There is even an expression about Vilnius “Is it a town in the forest, or is it a forest in the town”. See view from satellite: <>.  

But in the Braun’s atlas we see some another picture. Vilnius is surrounded by bare areas, the only rarely growing trees are seen beyond around the city. It could be risen a hypothesis that in 16th c. the trees were already cut around Vilnius, because the townsmen needed timber for building of houses. On the other hand, we should consider that the Braun’s atlas is not very particularly precise. The brick buildings could be shown more precisely, and the wooden ones were shown quite schematically, as well as the geographical environment surrounding the city.  



Keywords: Distinction, social conditions, trade center, merchants community, institutions.