Medieval Urban Growth, Society, and Politics

The Growth of Cities

The growth of cities: improvements in agricultural techniques and the stop of invasions in Europe led to the rise of population. Peace in Europe. Population in 9th cent was 29mill of inhabitants, in 11th 36mill, in 13th 58mill, in 14th cent was an epidemic plague, black death and population decreased. From the 11th to the 14th cent some factors led to the revitalization and growth of urban areas in Europe. Italy was the centre of this revival due to Ancient Roman cities and its strategic positions. Ex: north Italy, Venice, Pisa and Genova. Russia and Scandinavia also experimented this revival of urban life. Main Characteristics of Medieval Cities: cities didn’t have sewer system. streets were narrow. the main square was crowded. monasteries controlled knowledge and first universities appeared, the first one was la universidad de palencia in Spain.

Urban Society

New centres of population often grew up in the shelter of fortresses, which were surrounded by settlements of hamlets. The walls were built to surround them. These fortified towns were known as burgs. The Society Was Divided in 3 Groups: Bourgeoisie: Commercial activities, Increased their power and They were free. Poorer population: Servants, labourers, craftsmen, beggars and fugitive serfs; Harder work and Included: maids, unskilled labourers and apprentices. Jewish population: They lived in neighbourhoods known as Jewish quarters or ghettos and Engaged in specific trades such as moneylending. Moorish quarters: Areas where Muslims lived.

Main Economic Activities

Trade: Fairs-merchants (privileges granted by a Lord) and Self-sufficient economy-commercial activity. Currency: Currency was replaced by bartering (Early M. Ages), 11th century-urban development and Gold coins were minted (to pay taxes and rents). Banking: Moneychangers emerged: Set a price, Origin of the term “bankrupt”, Interest charged (Jews) and Bills of exchange.

Guils or Craftsmen

Were associations that had a monopoly on their trade and set the price of products. Guilds were throughout Europe between 11th and 16th centuries. (1) master, they have to pass an exam to become a master. (2) journeymen, they work for a salary or wage. (3) apprentices, they work for food and accommodation. Today’s guilds are remembered in the names of streets that refer to the trade carried out there. Ex: bread street. The most-developed trading goods were textiles, specially in Flanders and Catalonia.

Politics During the Middle Ages

The Rise of the Monarchies

The power of the kings over the nobles grew stronger. Bourgeoisie: new social group that emerged from 11th century in Europe. They were free citizens and they had economic power because they carried out commercial activities. Moneychangers: person or organization whose business is the exchange of coins or currency of one country for that of another. They emerged in 11th century in Europe. Guilds: Associations that had a monopoly on their trade and set the price of products. Guilds were throughout Europe between the 11th and 16th centuries. Example: Bread Street. Dynasty: a series of rulers or leaders who are all from the same family. Example: Capetian dynasty. Assemblies/Parliaments: political institution that appeared from 11th century. They met when convened by the King. Black Death: was a plague pandemic which devastated medieval Europe from 1348 to 1350. The disease originated in central Asia and entered in Europe via Italy, carried by rats on trading ships. Investiture Controversy: term to refer to the conflict between Gregory VII (Pope) and Henry IV (Emperor) in 11th century. The main cause was the appointment of bishops. This conflict was solve in the Concordat of Worms. Hanseatic League (Hansa): a federation of trading cities that emerged in the north of Germany after the conflict between Henry IV (Emperor) and Gregory VII (Pope). Hundred Year’s War: A series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of England and France from 1337 to 1453.

Mutual Interests Between Bourgeoisie and the King

Economic power in exchange for defending themselves from their lords. Economic prosperity allowed kings: To levy taxes and To pay armies and officials. Two ways to increase their domains: Wars and Marriage to nobles or members of other monarchies. As kingdoms grew, their governments became more complex and kings introduced new political institutions. Assemblies or parliaments. They were called cortes (in Iberian Peninsula), estates-general (in France), parliament (in England) or diet (in the Holy Roman Empire). Main Characteristics of Parliaments: They represented the most powerful inhabitants, They were advisory (giving to the King their opinion) and They only met when convened by the king. Main Functions of Parliaments: To finance the monarchy, To swear loyalty to the King (it was crucial in case of succession), To approve new taxes and aid (clergy and nobility did not pay taxes) and To support the King on any foreign policy measure (marriage, Alliance or declaration of war).

Conflicts Between Pope and Emperor

In the late 11th century the political and religious powers came into a conflict. Emperor Henry IV of England vs Pope Gregory VII. Henry IV wanted to confirm or remove the pope and the bishops in the empire. Pope Gregory VII believed that he should choose the bishops and demanded that the emperor meet his approval to rule. How were they chosen? Pope-after his death, a conclave of cardinals met to choose his successor. Emperor-He was chosen by the nobles and bishops of his domain. Consequences: The power of the empire and the papacy was weakened, New political entities emerged: Northern and central Italy-Some cities were governed as republics. Example: Venice. And Northern Germany, a federation of trading cities known as the Hanseatic League (Hansa) emerge. The conflict was finally resolved at the Concordat of Worms, with the Church retaining the right to appoint bishops, but in the emperor’s presence.

The Crisis of the 14th Century

Climate changed  this resulted in bad harvests, Part of the land was used for more profitable products (wine, flax…), Large areas of land were set aside for pasture for wool-producing sheep. Malnutrition weakened the population and enabled epidemics to emerged-The Black Death was a plague pandemic which devastated medieval Europe from 1348 to 1350. The disease originated in central Asia and entered in Europe via Italy, carried by rats on trading ships. Economic crisis and population decline had consequences for society: Social differences increased-insecurity and violence became widespread. Lack of labour caused a decrease in agricultural production. Lords tried to maintain their income by raising taxes. Social Unrest  Peasant Revolts. Jews were unfairly accused of spreading disease. Many people turned against them. Example: anti-Jewish riots in different parts of Spain in 1391.

The Hundred Year’s War

Def: A series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of England and France from 1337 to 1453. Main Causes of the War: (1) Territorial conflict: England possessed fiefs which were (in theory) under French sovereignty.-To solve the conflict, the English Plantagenet dynasty and the Capetian dynasty had a policy of maintaining a bond together through marital ties. (2) Succession conflict: Succession and inheritance laws were different in the two dynasties. The last French Capetian died without a male heir  succession problem. If the female line of succession were followed, the throne of France would go to the King of England. If the male line were followed, the throne would be inherited by a new French dynasty, the Valois family. (3) Commercial rivalry: England and France competed for trade with the rich cities of Flanders. Evolution of the War: Battle of Crécy – 1346: Result: English won the battle (King Edward III). Joan of Arc – Siege of Orléans (1428): She claimed that God was guiding her, She led the French armies to several victories and She was burnt for heresy in 1431. Consequences of the War: England was defeated. England began to suffer an economic crisis and a civil war know as War of the Roses. The French monarchy was strengthened.