The Impact of Agricultural and Economic Changes in Medieval Society

The way toward the modern society

1. The origin was during the 11th century, there was an increase in population.

2. The change happened due to the use of the new farming system.


  1. Cutting down the forests for increased new lands for farming.
  2. Crop rotation.
  3. The spread of irrigation techniques.

4. Use of iron tools: rakes, harness, horse collar, or horseshoes. Draft animals: oxen, horses, mules, or donkeys.

6. Generalization of wind or water mills to grind the cereals. The most important consequences of these improvements were the growth of the harvest and an increase in population with better nutrition.

4. In the three-field system, the land was divided into 3 parts where the crops changed position each year.

5. The lord left 2 options to his peasants:

  1. To eliminate their duties of working in the Lord’s land and create new hires like leases.
  2. To allow the peasants to leave the fiefdom.

The craftsman

1. A journeyman can become a teacher by proving his reached skills, this was achieved by making an example of his work, called a masterpiece.

2. The guilds were associations of particular professions to protect their interests. Some of their rules were to establish prices and salaries, regulate production and the number of workers in each profession or if the workshops had to remain closed on Sundays and feast days, no one was allowed to start working before sunrise or continue after dark.

3. El maestro: dueño del taller, obtiene beneficios y controla en el gremio, El oficial: trabajador experto, recibía salario y haciendo una obra maestra aprobada por el gremio se convierte en maestro y El aprendiz: el que aprendía el oficio, permanecía allí varios años, sin salario solo aprendiendo y vivía en la casa del maestro que también lo mantenía.

La Mesta

1. The Mesta was a powerful association of sheep ranchers in the medieval Crown of Castile, created by King Alfonso X of Castile in 1273.

2. The transhumance was a migration of cattle from the pastures of Extremadura and Andalusia to Castile and back, according to the season. The cañadas were traditional ways for sheep that perhaps date back to prehistoric times, the most important was cañadas reales.

3. The export of merino and churra wool and were sold in Medina del Campo and Burgos.

4. The wool went to Flanders, Belgium, where it was made into luxury clothing by master weavers and sold to the richest bourgeois and noblemen.

Consulados del mar

1. The consulate of the sea was a judicial body set up by the Crown of Aragon to protect the interests of its traders.

2. The King received in return financial support for his wars expansion.

3. The merchants bought cereals and spices and sold oil and manufactured products (textiles and boats).

4. The first consulate was created by James I of Aragon in Barcelona in 1258. There were others like in Valencia and Mallorca but also in Naples, Athens, and Constantinople.

5. The lonja was a building for storage and sale of products and the reales atarazanas were shipyards for the construction and repair of ships.

Silk road

1. The silk road was a group of trade routes that went across Asia to the Mediterranean Sea.

2. The road started from northern China and ended in the Mediterranean Levant (Syria, Israel, Palestine).

3. Trading ships took routes to Italy, and several land routes went to northern Europe to sell the products.

4. The product like silk, spices, gunpowder were traded.

Marco Polo

1. Marco Polo (1254-1324) was a Venetian merchant, explorer, and writer.

2. He wrote the Book of the Marvels of the World in 1300, it’s a book that described the wealth and great size of China, its capital Peking, and other Asian cities and countries.

3. In 1269 Marco, Niccolo, and Maffeo embarked on an epic journey to Asia returning after 24 years.

4. He also was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his experiences, his book inspired Christopher Columbus.

Black death

1. It was caused by fleas and their bacteria Yersinia pestis.

2. Infected fleas bit the black rats which transmitted the disease to humans.

3. It started at the siege of Genoese city of Kaffa (Feodosian) when the Mongol troops threw their infected corpses into the city.

4. In 1348 the ships returned to Genoa (Italy) with most of the crew dead and the disease reached Europe.

5. The grubbiness of the cities allowed the plague to spread.

6. It was contagious through sneezing and blood.

7. The symptoms were fever, headache, vomiting, and small purple spots on the neck, armpit, and groin.

8. The patient died from internal bleeding of wounds in 8 days.

9. To stop the disease: more hygiene, quarantine, and the doctors used bird beak masks.

10. Almost 50% (25 million) of the population died.

Gothic art

1. The word Gothic means the art of the Goths (Godos). It has a pejorative character.

2. The Gothic style started in Paris, France, between the 13th and 15th centuries. It was linked to urban expansion and the power of the bourgeoisie.

3. The gargoyles are sculptural adornments that depict monsters and fantastic beasts.

4. The weight of the cathedral was supported by buttresses and flying buttresses.

5. Pointed or ogival arches and rib vaults.

6. A rib vault is lighter than a barrel vault, was formed by the intersection of two vaults with pointed arches.

7. The stained glass windows gave the effect of brightness and color on the inside.