Height of Medieval Civilization

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The Height of Medieval Civilization
Growth of Towns
• Warfare declined in western Europe during
the 11th and 12th century
• Manor economy became more productive
• Population increased
• Trade revived and towns increased in size
• Peasants and nobles became aware of a
larger world
Where are the Towns?
• During the early Middle Ages trade
declined, small Roman towns remained
– Vikings kept some trade links open between old
towns
– Many old roman roads were used for trade
Revival of trade
•
•
•
Decline of feudal warfare
Easier to trade using old Roman roads and rivers
Wool was the main trade item. Towns became
the collecting and distributing point for these
items
–
–
–
English/Flemish…. sheep
Antwerp and Bruges….weavers
Milan and Florence…. trade cloth
• Italian fleets gain control of the
Mediterranean from the Muslims
• During the Crusades trade expanded into
the east.
• Travel was expensive
• Barter system was gradually replaced by a
money economy.
Trade Fairs and the Hanseatic
League
• Annual Trade fairs
• (Champagne, France)
• Nobles provided
protection, rented
booths, and hired
money changers
• Fairs became a magnet
for goods and ideas
• Trade fairs become
elaborate events
• Mixing place of
customs, languages,
and goods.
• Gradual decline due to
competition from the
Hanseatic League, but
also the rents were too
high
Hanseatic League
Group of over 80 towns/cites fronting the Baltic.
Dominate shipping lanes of Northern Europe
Provided protection, made coinage, and treaties
Lubeck: located on the southern shores of the Baltic
Growth of Towns
• Growth in trade, encouraged by the Trade Fairs
helped Towns grow
• Merchants stayed and opened inns for travellers
• Bakers, shoemakers, carpenters and tailors settled
in towns to provide needed goods and services
• Rural peasants sold extra produce to townspeople
• Towns specialize, Flanders produces wool, other
lace or leather.
Chartering a Town
• Towns located on lands already owned by lords or
the church
• Fees paid to lord or church
• As towns grew they demanded charters or their
rights guaranteed
• Charter gave towns control over their own affairs:
taxes, property,courts, and grant freedom to serfs
• Population of towns consisted of serf, peasants
merchants, artisans
• Townspeople called bourgeoisie (Fr.) burgesses
(Eng.) burghers (Ger.)
Medieval Guilds
• Merchants and artisans
given the right to form
associations
• Governed prices,
wages, standards,
disputes and
imports/exports
• Only guild members
could practice their
trade.
Hamburg
Guild Practices
• Protected members
• ‘Just Price’ for goods
• Set work week, hours,
pay
• Social welfare
programs
• Entertainment and
religious feasts
• Training ; apprentice,
journeyman and
master craftsman.
• Could take 7 to 20
years
• Guilds prevented
competition
• Passed down through
the family
Town Life
• Many towns with few
residents
• Walled, gated
• Town centre with
church, town hall,
market,
• Guild quarters
• Waste, poor sanitation
system
• Fires a problem
• Epidemics
• What’s good about
towns?
• Ideas, could make
money, entertainment
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