Physical Dimensions of Medieval HRE Cities?

Nov 2018
What was the typical area of a walled medieval city by demographic size? For example, I have a city whose urban population is roughly that of Mainz in the 11th century (30k) but I am not sure about what size it should be?
Nov 2010
Depends where you are. A lot of places, if you look at the maps, still clearly define the old walled area, but obviously everywhere is different

Populations - as an example I've recently read that when Navarra/Pamplona fell under the control of a fledgling Aragon in the late 11th century, the population of Aragon rose from about 23,000 to 70-odd thousand.

Not a lot eh?
Likes: Futurist
Dec 2017
Regnum Teutonicum
I do not know how accurate it is, but my search in the internet says that the roman wall of Mainz was 2 m thick, 6 m high and around 4000 m long. Archbishop Liutbert repaired the wall in 881/882 and built a new ditch. Archchancelor and archbishop Hatto I took part of it down and rebuild it 30 - 50 m into the direction of the Rhine. Emperor Friedrich I ordered the destruction of the wall in 1163, which it seems was only done with the towers, gates and for the part facing the Rhine. King Philipp allowed the citizens of Mainz to repair the wall in 1198. In the 13th century a new larger and higher wall was built.


Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
Hercynian Forest
The population and the area of medieval walled towns in the HRE was rather small, especially outside of Italy. Cities of 10,000 inhabitants were already considered large and important, and cities of 50,000 and more were world cities, at least for European standards. Cities like Genoa with 100,000 inhabitants already in the 14th century were exceptional.

Nuremberg may be a good example of a large HRE city in the late middle ages, because its walls are still largely intact until today. The wall has a length of 5 km (3.1 mi), and the walled area comprises approximately 160 hectares (1.6 km2; this corresponds to 0.618 sq mi or 395 acres). The population within the walled area changed over time. Around 1400, when the walled area reached its final expansion still visible today, there were between 20,000 and 30,000 inhabitants, which grew to a maximum of 40,000 around 1500 with no further expansion in area.

In the early 1800s, when Nuremberg lost its independence during the Napoleonic Wars, the walled area was still the same as four hundred years earlier, as was the approximate number of inhabitants (25,000).

Other examples from Southern Germany are Augsburg with 200 hectares and a maximum of 30,000 inhabitants around 1500, and Regensburg with 113 hectares and 22,000 inhabitants. In Northern Germany, L├╝beck was one of the largest cities, with 100 hectares and a medieval maximum of 25,000 inhabitants.

The Old Town of the largest city in the HRE, Prague, also fell in this range, with an area of 130 hectares. However, Prague consisted of several towns, with the Kleinseite (Lesser Quarter) adding another 140 hectares, and its New Town founded in the 14th century another 250. Add to this the area of the castle district (150 hectares), and you end up with almost 700 hectares. However, these entities were not united in a single city until the 18th century.
Likes: Linschoten