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Economic Expansion and Change in Medieval Europe. Chapter 8 Section 4 4.5.12. An Agricultural Revolution. By the 800s, peasants were using iron plows.

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an agricultural revolution
An Agricultural Revolution
  • By the 800s, peasants were using iron plows.
  • A new kind of harness also allowed peasants to use horses rather than oxen to pull the plows, allowing them to plow more land, enlarge their fields and plant more crops.
  • The windmill allowed peasants in areas with no fast-moving streams to grind their grain into flour.
expanding food production
Expanding Food Production
  • Feudal lords pushed serfs to clear forests, drain swamps, and reclaim wasteland for farming and grazing.
  • Peasants also adopted the three-field system, planting one with grain, one with peas and beans, and leaving a third unplanted.
  • With this increased food production, the population doubled between about 1000 and 1300.
trade revives
Trade Revives
  • Traders and customers did business at local trade fairs near navigable rivers or where busy trade routes met.
new towns
New Towns
  • These small centers of trade slowly developed into medieval cities, the size of which Europe had not seen since Roman times.
  • Merchants were granted a charter setting out the rights and privileges of the town.

12. If a man shall have had a quarrel with another, but without breaking into a fortified house, and if the parties shall have reached an agreement without bringing a suit before the provost, no fine shall be due to us or our provost on account of the affair.

new business practices
New Business Practices
  • Europeans were developing new ways of doing business. For example, many merchants joined together to form a partnership.
  • Merchants also developed a system of insurance to reduce business risks.
  • From Middle Eastern merchants, they adopted the bill of exchange. A merchant deposited money with a banker in his home city. The banker gave him a bill of exchange for cash in a distant city.
social changes
Social Changes
  • This commercial revolution reshaped medieval society.
  • The use of money undermined serfdom, with many peasants paying their rent in cash rather than labor. By 1300, most peasants were tenant farmers (farmers who paid rent for their land) or hired laborers.
  • Merchants and artisans became the new middle class. A group that was not very wealthy, but not poor either.
  • In medieval towns, merchants and artisans formed associations known as guilds.
  • Merchant guilds appeared first, dominating town life by passing laws and levying taxes. Artisans came to resent the powerful merchants and formed their own craft guilds. In some cases, struggles between to two led to riots.
  • Guild members cooperated to protect their economic interests.
  • No one except guild members could work in any trade.
  • They set rules to protect the quality of goods, regulate hours of labor and set prices. They operated schools and hospitals and looked after the needs of their members.
becoming a guild member
Becoming a Guild Member
  • At seven or eight, a child would become an apprentice, or trainee, to a guild master. Apprentices spent seven years learning the trade. They were paid no wages.
  • Few apprentices became a guild master unless they were related to one. Most worked for guild members as journeymen.
women and the guilds
Women and the Guilds
  • Women became apprentices in trades ranging from ribbon making to papermaking to surgery.
  • Women dominated in some trades and had their own guilds. In Paris, they outnumbered men in silk and woolen guilds. A third of the guilds in Frankfurt were composed entirely of women.
town and city life
Town and City Life
  • Medieval towns were surrounded by high protective walls. To keep up with constant growth, the city might rebuild its walls farther and farther out every few years.
  • They featured a jumble of narrow streets lined with tall houses. Upper floors hung out over the street, making those below dim even in daytime.
  • Large cities featured a great cathedral where the bishop resided.
town life
Town Life
  • Even rich towns had no garbage collection or sewer system. Residents simply flung their waste into the street.
  • Larger cities might pass laws, such as one requiring butchers to dump their garbage on the edge of town.
  • Towns were filthy, smelly, noisy and crowded.