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Unit 7

Cities in Medieval Europe

Oxford University Press Espaa S.A., 2013

OBJECTIVES
1 Identify the main economic and political transformations in Europe between
the 11th and 13th centuries.
2 Learn how medieval cities were governed.
3 Understand the economic structure of cities in the Middle Ages.

4 Highlight the principal social changes which took place in the Early and High
Middle Ages.
5 Explain what life was like in a medieval city.
6 Highlight the importance of culture in the Early and High Middle Ages.
7 Distinguish the main characteristics of Gothic architecture and art.
8 Understand the causes of the crisis in the Early Middle Ages and the
circumstances which led to the beginning of the Early Modern Period.

9 Obtain historical information from the analysis of different sources.

CONTENTS
Economic and political transformations in the Middle Ages.
Political organisation, economy and society in medieval cities.

Daily life in medieval cities.


Culture, Gothic architecture and art.
From the crisis of the 14th century to the Early Modern Period.

What do we know?

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL TRANSFORMATIONS


1- ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION
11th-13th centuries Huge population growth in Europe
Technological innovations in farming:

3 year crop rotation


use of iron-wheeled mouldboard plough (deeper furrows)
new type of harness allowed the use of horses
rather than oxen as draught animals

2- POLITICAL TRANSFORMATION
Cortes or parliaments appeared (authority of monarchs over feudal lords)
Participation of urban population (bourgeoisie) in the parliament.

Economic transformations

Which technological innovation is shown in this image?

Political transformations

What institution does this image show?


Who participated in these bodies, and what was their function?

MEDIEVAL CITIES
11th century: new cities and towns in Europe
Some cities around Europe became specialised in different areas:

Genoa & Venice commercial activities


Bruges and London craftwork.
POLITICAL ORGANISATION
Main authority: feudal lord
Bourgeoisie (inhabitants of the city) wanted more autonomy
The fueros given by the lord/king to some cities specified their rights
2 main institutions (administration of the city)

A council (power delegated by inhabitant of the city):


o

Formed by members of the richest families

Responsible for collecting taxes, regulating the market, defence

Magistrates: in charge of carrying out the orders of the council,


administering justice and keeping public order.

MEDIEVAL CITIES: ECONOMY


CRAFTS
-textiles: weavers, dyers

- construction: builders, carpenters, stonemasons


- food: bakers, cheesemakers, etc.
Different guilds (associations of workers doing the same job) were
established from the 12th century on.
to be able to work in a trade, a person had to be a member of a guild, which
regulated working hours, quality of products, etc.
Most craftworkers had their own workshops and sold their products directly
to customers. The craftworkers were organised as follows:
o Master: the owner of workshop and raw materials
o Journeyman: was employed by the master, but could own his own
workshop if he produced a masterpiece (high-quality product)

o Apprentices: they didnt get paid while they were learning the trade

Medieval cities: crafts

What activities took place in each of the places labelled on the image?
Describe the different types of craftworkers who worked in workshops.

MEDIEVAL CITIES: ECONOMY


TRADE
Peasants sold their products at weekly markets
Trade fairs were held big markets attended by merchants from different
regions and countries
Emergence of new professions : money changer banks and bankers
Bankers could lend money to merchants (interest) or send money from
purchases to other places.
Technical resources (compass, astrolabe, ships, etc) Development of foreign

trade
There were different trading areas:
Southern Europe (centred in the north of the Italian peninsula and Catalonia)
Central and Northern Europe (cities such as Bruges, Antwerp, Hamburg,
Frankfurt)
German cities: Hanseatic League protection of commercial interests
Trade control of North and Baltic Seas

Foreign trade

Southern Europe: merchants commercialised products such as spices, silk, alum etc.
Central and Northern Europe: they sold wheat, furs, iron, copper, wood, fish, among others.

MEDIEVAL CITIES: SOCIETY


Some changes took place in cities from the 12th century onwards
Main social groups were:
Nobility: They didnt pay taxes, they could live either in their feifs
or in cities (palaces)
Clergy: The first mendicant religious orders appeared (Franciscans,
Dominicans) in the 13th century.

Peasantry: Some started to leave the fief and settled in cities as


craftworkers or traders.
Bourgeoisie: Its a new social group that was divided into:
High Bourgeoisie (great merchants and bankers, guild masters:
they controlled the government of the cities)
Low Bourgeoisie (they were employed by others: apprentices,
servants, etc)

Society

DAILY LIFE IN MEDIEVAL CITIES


MAIN BUILDINGS:
Cathedral
Town Hall (council)

OTHER BUILDINGS:
Modest houses
Palaces
Monasteries
Convents
Churches
Workshops and food shops
OUTSIDE THE CITY WALLS:
Cemeteries
Hospitals
Vegetable gardens

DAILY LIFE IN MEDIEVAL CITIES


Medieval cities were generally noisy and dirty.
Houses usually had 3 or 4 floors with a workshop/shop on the ground
floor. Servants of the family lived on the top floor.

There wasnt much furniture inside the houses and there was a fireplace
to give light and warmth.
In the bedrooms they used straw mattresses, feather pillows, linen
sheets and fur/wool blankets.
The life of wealthy bourgeoisie was comfortable enough. They ate
bread, chicken, goose, duck, beef, eggs, fruit and vegetables.
Both rich and poor enjoyed the entertainment of the city: ball games,

dances, street performers, etc.

CULTURE
There was a Renaissance in the 12th century social, political and
economic transformations

UNIVERSITIES
Communities of students and teachers who learnt autonomously.
They were divided into faculties: Law, Arts, Medicine and Theology.
After Bologna and Oxford, the universities of Paris, Cambridge,
Valladolid and Salamanca were founded.
Aristotle (first translated in Al-Andalus): his writings spread in
Western Europe from the 12th century on.
A new method of learning called scholasticism developed in the late
12th century from the rediscovery of the works of Aristotle.
Scholasticism was the new way of understanding theology.
Advances in Maths and Optics.

Progresses in Medicine (Anatomy)

Culture

ARCHITECTURE AND ART: GOTHIC (12-15th centuries)


ARCHITECTURE:
Religious buildings: churches and cathedrals
Secular buildings: palaces, lonjas, universities, town halls
Characteristics of Gothic style:
High buildings with huge windows (stained glass /rose Windows)
Pointed arch supported by columns
Ribbed vaults, flying buttresses, and buttresses crowned with pinnacles.

Basilica plan (church/cathedral), nave, various aisles, side chapels,


transepts and various apses in the chancel
Three floors in the interior: 1st arches; 2nd triforium; 3rd Windows
Several doorways and usually towers over main door on the west faade.

Architecture: Gothic vs Romanesque

ARCHITECTURE AND ART: GOTHIC (12-15th centuries)


SCULPTURE:
Materials: Stone and Wood

Closely linked to architecture: relief forms carved on faades, columns,


tympanum, archivolts
Didactic purpose
More expressive figures than those in Romanesque art.
Main themes were religious
PAINTING:
On wood or canvas, altarpieces or books
Techniques: tempera or oil painting
Figures became more realistic
Religious themes, but also daily life scenes and portraits.

Painting

THE CRISIS OF THE 14TH CENTURY


Various crises in the 14th century:
Bad harvests Economic crisis Famine Mortality
Various epidemics: Black Death (bubonic plague)

Death of 1/3 of Europes population


Many wars: Hundred Years War
Social conflicts: revolts, increase in number of beggars and bandits

Crisis of the Catholic Church: Western Schism (14th-15th


centuries) three popes at the same time

RECOVERY AFTER THE CRISIS OF THE 14TH CENTURY


Good harvests increase in population
Kings recovered their authority over nobles and high bourgeoisie
Humanism developed

Invention of the printing press books and ideas spread more


easily
Innovations in navigation New geographical discoveries
End of 15th century Beginning of Early Modern Age

The crises of the 14th century

Which 14th-century crisis is depicted in this image?


What other crises took place during the 14th century?