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Urban Geography: Early Forms Explained

The revival of towns in Europe during the tenth century can be attributed to the steady decline of feudalist system and the growth in influence of the middle class in the form of merchants and lords. The merchants themselves had been strongly opposed to economic regulations that were in place at the time which restricted their activities. The merchants, manufacturers and financiers would gain the freedom to be able to supervise their own markets. The economic and political freedoms that would be gained by these individuals (merchants and craftsman) was important for the revival of European urban society and the eventual decline of medieval feudalism (Pacione, 2009:45).

The German city of Lubeck can be understood as an example of this revival of the urban society through growth in commerce and trade. Lubeck would be seen as the centre of the German Baltic trading system which was organized by a group of towns known as the Hanseatic League which included Luneberg, Hamburg, Riga, Danzig and Cologne (Pacione, 2009:46). In in its growth and development of a regular trade relationship with the Russian city of Novgorod brought with it an assortment of furs and forestry products. Along with products such as salt that was used to preserve meat and fish at the time. These products would be distributed across Northern Europe and would be exchanged for cloth and other manufactures.

The growth in economic wealth and political power that was gained by the merchant elite within Lubeck would allow them to have power to govern Lubeck and other cities of Hanse (Pacione, 2009:46). The structure of the town of Lubeck was central to the importance trade and commerce as the town had a medieval cathedral and monasteries which were dominated by a central marketplace where trade or exchanges (Pacione, 2009:46). The marketplace had within it shops with various specialist merchants and craftsman such as bakers, spice merchants and tailors. These individuals would live in quarters that were situated above the shops (Pacione, 2009:46). The town would maintain a healthy relationship with the surrounding area and had a similar healthy relationship with the countryside despite the growth in importance of commerce (Pacione, 2009:46).

Medieval town would have an influx of immigrants that were seeking employments and economic opportunity to live better lives. Citizens of Lubeck would be allowed to have certain privileges through their legal status which was only afforded to them, and the same privileges were not reflected in the town of Novgorod despite the success of the area, they were not politically autonomous (Pacione, 2009:46). The revival of urbanism due to the decline of feudalism brought great prosperity for medieval towns. In terms of commerce and trade and the success of the individuals in those town ensured that they gained political power that would allow certain political powers. The nurturing of relationships with other towns and the environment despite the emphasis placed on production would ensure growth was profitable and sustainable for a healthy period.

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