Glasshouse near the Green Bridge

The decisions Lithuanian rulers made several centuries ago would raise a few eyebrows today. One of such decisions was handing over the right to practice a trade to a single artisan, effectively making him a monopolist. This is exactly what happened in the 16th century Vilnius when the right to manufacture glass was limited to one person.

The lucky man’s name was Marcin Palecki. In 1547 King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund Augustus granted the privilege making him the only legal producer, importer, and trader of glass in Vilnius.

However, it appears that Marcin was not the first Vilnan who produced and sold glass. Recent discoveries show that Marcin was following in the footsteps of his father Jan, who took over the glass trade from his namesake bishop of Vilnius in 1525. New discoveries show that Bishop Jan was a businessman in a cassock and established the glasshouse in 1519, dating the start of glass making in Vilnius no less than three decades earlier than previously believed. 

The glasshouse stood on the bishop’s private land outside the city walls, near the present-day Green Bridge, then known as the Grand Bridge. Six years later, on 4 November 1525, the bishop sold it to “the Polish glass maker” Jan Palecki. 

Learn more about glassmaking traditions in Vilnius by clicking this link.