I tidligmoderne tid kom et stigende antal politiforordninger mod forskellige former for urenhed i byerne om alt fra brolægning, renovation og løsgående svin til forurening af drikkevandet med ådsler, slagteaffald og menneskelort. Artiklen undersøger både med hvilke begrundelser myndighederne lovgav imod og borgerne klagede over urenheden. Desuden undersøges udviklinger og forskydninger i oplevelsen af urenhed fra middelalderens købstadslove til den borgerlige presse, som opstod i slutningen af 1700-tallet.
As in the rest of Europe, an increasing number of police ordinances with sanitary measures were issued in the Danish towns and in particular in the capital Copenhagen during the early modern period. The article finds three different types of arguments in as well the ordinances as the complaints of ordinary citizens about lacks in sanitary policing. Firstly, during most of the period, foul odours were seen as the cause of epidemics in accordance with the miasmatic theory of contamination by air. Secondly, coming into contact with uncleanness was regarded as socially degrading, which is why sanitary measures were stricter around places of honour like churches or the Kings castle in Copenhagen. Thirdly, the urban filth was seen as an obstacle to traffic and ‘good police’ – the mercantilist policy of improving life in the towns and especially the capital in order to attract immigration and economic growth. This ambition is mirrored in the many complaints about sanitary policing in the weekly magazine ‘Politivennen’ – ‘The friend of the Police’ – which began to be issued in 1798. The analysis shows that the arguments against uncleanness had not changed significantly since the 16th century, except a tendency to see the towns and especially the capital as a more civilized and cleaner space than the countryside.