The Rise of Towns The Beginning of the end of Feudalism
Henry III –by the time he became king, the crusades had weakened the structure of Feudalism by killing off Lords and nobles who owned serfs and manors. Upon their deaths, serfs would be set free and their lands went back to the king. The free serfs moved to free towns outside the control of nobles.
The towns people and merchants quickly formed a middle class (the French call them the bourgeoisie the English called them the burgesses). This class did not fit into the feudal structure. The laws of the Lords did not apply to them. They did not have to provide the Lords with any services or taxes. The middle class began using vernacular= writing in your own spoken common language. Latin quickly fell out of use among the middle classes. Universities were soon built to educate the middle classes.
Towns grow in power • Merchants began trading goods and becoming independently wealthy. The town became the center of commerce and power. The Lord and his castle became less important as more and more people moved to the towns.
Education returns • The middle class began using vernacular= writing in your own spoken common language. Latin quickly fell out of use among the middle classes. Universities were soon built to educate the middle classes.
Guilds • Kings soon began to include town’s people in their great councils. These men met in the King’s parlor. Thus they were called parlor men (parliament) • The Rise of Guilds • Craftsmen began organizing themselves in their towns. People who conducted the same trade would create an organization (a guild) with strict membership rules and set prices for their goods. All members would have to improve the quality of their work and would have to charge the same price for their product as the other guild members. Together they could prevent competition from any new tradesman who came to town. Essentially the guild had a monopoly on their particular skill.
Banks begin • Banking further weakened the Lords. The Kings began demanding taxes in the form of money. Merchants had plenty of money, however feudal Lords received taxes from their serfs in the form of labor and food. Lords could not pay taxes and therefore lost their lands.
Towns make the French King Powerful • While the kings of England were losing their absolute power through the Magna Carte, the kings of France were taking power away from their Lords and making themselves very powerful men.
Beginning with a man named Hugh Capet, who overthrew the last of the Carolingians, a dynasty of strong rulers was created. The Capetian family would rule France for the next three centuries. • Lords had become very strong and were often more powerful than the king himself.
Reducing the Power of Lords • To correct this problem, Capetian kings: • freed townspeople from their responsibilities to their Lords. • Placed clergy and rich free merchants on the king’s advisory board instead of nobles • Town’s people gave their loyalty to the king instead of the Lord. • Created a permanent army loyal to the king, therefore making the king independent of the Lord’s protection. • Declared that only kings had the right to create money
Reducing the Lords power • Banned private warfare among Lords and nobles • Made Royal courts more courts. • Fought England to win back land for the King of France • Levied taxes on the clergy of France. • Created an Estates General = a board of advisors and law makers made up of clergy, nobles and town’s people. This placed town folk on the same power level with the Lords and clergy. This reduced the power of the clergy and Lords.