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Published byTrevor Merritt Modified over 7 years ago
How did towns run and what did they accomplish?
Towns served a purpose, but they were also small and smelly. London (8 million today) had only 50,000 people in 1300. Towns were the centres for farm communities. Towns grew around a defensive structures (castle or monastery) They were surrounded by walls of stone
Towns had gates that were shut at night As a town grew to a city larger rings of walls were built. These walls were good for defense but it crowded the living conditions of the people. Houses were several stories high, with floors overhanging the streets. Streets were narrow and winding.
There was no plumbing Garbage was dumped in the streets. Pigs were sent through town at night to eat up the waste. On a more positive note there was also: Pageants and plays Sports and entertainment
In the feudal system the important feature was land, but with trade increase, money became the focus of power. People became independent b/c they could make money. Towns were the home of the medieval middle class (merchants and skilled tradespeople.) Some merchants became wealthier than the lords on the manors.
Nobility thought trade was beneath them but still wanted the finer things only found in towns. The middle class, with its power, money and desire for freedom, would end feudalism.
Towns drew people wanting out of the restrictive feudal system. People had the freedom to do what they wanted, marry who they wanted, and make money as they wanted. Runaway serfs could gain their freedom by staying in town for a year and a day without being discovered (according to law)
Feudal lords or courts could not control people living in towns. Medieval towns were chartered (by the monarch) which meant they governed themselves. Wealthy citizens and the guilds controlled the town government.
Members of guilds were the most powerful. These guilds funded ships for trading and many other things by pooling their money. The Hanseatic League (a guild) supported their own army and navy. The guild became so wealthy that by threatening to cut off all trade with a country could force that country’s ruler to do what they wanted.
1: Compare the medieval fair with a shopping mall. Consider the days and hours of operation, goods sold, type of consumers. What does this tell you about the two societies. 2: Compare the life of a serf and a guild member. What are the benefits and drawbacks of each? 3: What factors lead to the growth of trade? How did this lead to the need for towns?
4: Examine the map on page150. How did water impact trade routes? How did physical features of Europe affect trade routes? 5: Why is it that medieval towns always had walls? What did that say about society? 6: Explain guilds. Why were they needed? Why did they work? What did they do for their members?
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