R03e_The Growth of Urbanization
[1.] “The social landscape of Europe had changed radically. In fact, it bore scant resemblance to the society that had emerged in the wake of the alien invasions. Church and nobility, the former foundations for authority and stability, no longer were the pillars on which everything rested. In their stead, new forms or organization, which centuries before had been dormant or nonexistent, were struggling to the fore…
[2.] New social categories, exemplified by the merchant capitalist and the clothier, aspired to goals that were largely unknown in the past. These changes, as much as those that were altering the material landscape, would profoundly affect the future…
[3.] Europe passed through periods of plenty and survived times of scarcity… In the social sphere, there was steady progress in the direction of personal liberation… even the personal ties of allegiance that had once bound the majority of its residents to a particular locale had been abolished.
[4.] A continent that in the eleventh century could only produce enough for basic subsistence had expanded its material base to the extent that generous surpluses became the norm.
[5.] Under these circumstances, a completely rural economy was transformed into one that supported a growing urbanization and an intensified local, regional and long-distance trade.
[6.] The technology that supported these changes was constantly being improved, so it appeared that growth and expansion would continue unabated.”
Source: Alan K Smith, Creating a World Economy, Boulder, Western Press, 1991, p.69.
Format was edited by Mr.V for clarity and ease of analysis.
Questions to Ponder:
In the early Middle Ages (Dark Age), Europe was a chaotic landscape of migrating peoples on a quest for social stasis. The 8th – 10th C. invasions/ migrations reignited an instability that ultimately will come to undermine the Frankish Kingdom and usher in the age of Feudalism and the High Middle Ages. Stability, security, and self-sufficiency were the important hallmarks of the era, but it would not remain unchanged, as noted in the reading above.
Using your knowledge of History and the clues embedded in the short passage above, ponder this with your class neighbor: What must be happening in ‘High Middle Ages’ Europe to ignite urban growth?
Don’t just look at the symptoms of urban growth (more people deciding to move to, and live in, towns; more freedom to control your own life; etc.). Try to dissect the tantalizing clues left for you in the passage above.
Please write your response in complete sentences and be prepared to reveal it before the class and defend it.