Session details


Joan Roca i Albert (Museum of the History of the City of Barcelona (MUHBA))



Housing Inequalities in Portuguese Cities between the 16th and 18th Centuries


Liliana Castilho (Polytechnic Institute of Viseu/CITCEM-University of Porto)


Dwellings, Modern Age, Portugal


Within the city, the dwelling is the main stronghold of its inhabitants and, in this sense, the most immediate morphological implementation of social and economic inequalities and asymmetries.

Throughout the Modern Period, in Portugal, we have witnessed a growing spatial specialization of dwellings in the upper strata of the population, the existence of private spaces, chambers, toilets and bedrooms becoming common, public spaces such as halls, chair rooms, chapels and hallways multiply, and abounding service areas such as kitchens, patios, cellars, toilets and stables. 

On the other hand, at the opposite end of the social spectrum, changes in the way of living are almost non-existent throughout the centuries under analysis and the house is, above all, a reflection of the more or less precarious economic conditions of its inhabitants. 

The common house has a reduced area of implantation, due to the high price of land in the interior of the city, and makes the most of the space in terms of height, adding another room or floor, according to the needs and possibilities. At the level of the ground floor, there were always stores, often a workshop or apothecary on the side facing the street, and living spaces were reserved for the upper floors. There could be only one room per floor, but the most frequent typology was that of three rooms: a living room facing the public street, a kitchen in the middle (to facilitate the extraction of smoke, since chimneys or fireplaces were practically non-existent in this group of dwellings) and a chamber overlooking the backyard. 

The backyard, an essential health reserve and food supplement, exists in almost every dwelling, but its dimensions naturally accompanied the economic possibilities of its inhabitants.
These spatial and constructive diferences, noticeable through the analysis of the documentation, whether it be building permits, leases or wills, resulted in different conditions of habitability and health and even different possibilities of survival in the event of pestilence or fire and gave shape, through the built, to the social and political inequalities of the Ancien Regime.

The Marketplaces and its Social Inequalities: some Portuguese Cases in Early Modern Age


Daniela Nunes Pereira (Universidade de Évora-CIDEHUS)


Inequalities, Urbanism, Marketplace


Between the 15th and 18th centuries, most market spaces in Portuguese cities and towns underwent a process of spatial and architectural renovation to regulate the market and solve supply problems. This urban revolution shaped an active policy of distributing a mesh of social distinctions in space. I am referring to inequality in access to commercial spaces, which may lead to a kind of marginalization, such as the removal of poor sellers or those with less honorable trades. Since the 16th century, some Portuguese councils have tried to order vendors with constant prohibitions, in order to keep a large part of the square free, but also to prevent the occupation of spaces near the churchyards. Reprimands against sellers who installed their stalls without authorization were still frequent throughout the 18th century, which indicates that these orders were not always respected, showing the presence of a feeling of injustice and resistance on the part of the poor merchant class. 

One way to restrict access to points of sale can be seen from the demolition programs or construction of façades with porches on the ground floors. The existence of this type of architecture, which allowed the permanence of sellers, contributed to a demarcation of commercial space in the urban fabric. The high prices charged to use these architectural spaces for commercial purposes constituted a powerful means of social restriction. In this sense, the role of architecture takes on another meaning as it influenced the separation of the various social spheres in market spaces.