A town or city doesn't live on city air alone ('Stadsluft macht frei', the Germans say). A city is nourished on food raised by farmers who live and work in the neighboring countryside.
In the Dutch Republic vegetable gardening and dairy farming were professionally developed and to a large degree market oriented. Regular transport of fresh produce to towns was necessary because food was perishable due to a lack of refrigeration. Food could however be preserved for a longer period by smoking, salting, drying or conserving it in glass pots. Grain, a main staple food, was largely imported, especially from the Baltic region.
Housewives, maids and others went out to markets with shopping buckets. Tanneke Evenpoel - probably the Vermeer family maid testified against Willem Bolnes. There was domestic violence as well as Catherina's brother Willem Bolnes misbehaved in an appalling manner.
These were the local Delft markets:
Fish: River fish was sold on Nieuwstraat, sea fish at the Fish Platforms on Hippolytusbuurt.
Meat was sold in the 'Vleeshal'. Inside, 22 stands were rented out to tradesmen. The hide of the slaughtered animal had to be displayed next to the butchered animal. As a commercial sign two animal heads are displayed on the facade.
Grain was sold daily around and behind the Oude Kerk; three times a week on Havenbrug at Binnenwatersloot ; and grain was sold especially for the beer brewers on the Koornmarkt.
General week market was held on Thursday. Poultry was sold on Choorstraat and Poelbrug. Vegetables and fruit in season were sold on Warmoesbrug near Nieuwstraat. Fruit was also sold by the city gates. Vegetables could also be sold from wheelbarrows by peddlers who went from door-to-door.
City inhabitants worked hard. In 1711 The Englishman Burnet reported: "On Sundays people travelled, windmills were in operation, farmers were seen at work and shops were open just as on weekdays." (Datema, p. 147)
750 jaar Delft, Delftenaren en hun markten en winkels, Waanders, Zwolle, 1996, p. 203.
C. Datema, 'British Travellers in Holland during the Stuart period. Edward Browne and John Locke as tourists in the United Provinces', Thesis, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1989
This page forms part of a large encyclopedic site on Delft. Research by Drs. Kees Kaldenbach (email). A full presentation is on view at johannesvermeer.info.
Launched December, 2002; Last update March 1, 2017.
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