Thomas ERTL1 | Paul MITCHELL2 | Martin MOSSER3
(1 Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte Universität Wien, Vienna, Austria | 2 Vienna, Austria | 3 Stadtarchäologie Wien, Vienna, Austria)

Keywords: urban history, house ownership, GIS, town plan

In 1448 the inhabitants of the Widmer Quarter – one of the four districts of late medieval Vienna and including areas within and without the city walls – were listed for reasons not now precisely understood. Unusually, this list, now in the Austrian National Library, includes not only the owners of each house plot, but also other men (tenants, employees…) and occasionally women living there. The plots are grouped in neighbourhoods, some of which are identifiable today. Three in particular cover a large connected area now known under the names Am Hof, Färbergasse and Tiefer Graben. This area can be reconstructed in astonishing detail:
The house plots can be reconstructed on the basis of the accurate city map by Werner Arnold Steinhausen (1710), tempered with information from the maps by Wolmuet (1547), Suttinger (1684) and others. Numerous archaeological projects, including major excavations, which have taken place in the area, enable us to further adapt the street plan and even some house plans.
The 1448 list will be compared to the plot-by-plot study of house owners and property transfers compiled by Paul Harrer in the mid-twentieth century, an unpublished work held in the City Archives.
Recent archaeological work covering six medieval plots has included the re-analysis of property registers. Thus it will be possible to place dozens of householders and other people on the plots on which they lived. The area can be a Viennese test case for the GIS-powered connection of textual data to plot maps, as pioneered in other cities and exposing the social-spatial structure of the city in the later medieval period. The possibilities for historians, archaeologists, museum professionals and others interested in the Middle Ages are considerable.
Imagine walking through a medieval district and greeting the inhabitants by name as though you had lived there all your life.

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Show how digital technologies are revolutionising the practice of established disciplines

A new level of detail in analysing the medieval city and the first time in Austria for methods pioneered elswhere.


  1. Paul Mitchell, Rabensteig 3. Untersuchung eines Hauses im Herzen Wiens. In: Günther Buchinger, Friedmund Hueber (Hg.), Bauforschung und Denkmalpflege. Festschrift für Mario Schwarz, Wien-Köln-Weimar 2015, 239-258.
  2. Günther Buchinger, Paul Mitchell, Bau- und Besitzergeschichte des Hauses Wien 1., Annagasse 12, Fundberichte aus Österreich 52, 2013, D5557-D5585.