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Trade in the Middle Ages - Summary

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Trade in the Middle Ages - Summary

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Trade from the the fall of the Roman empire it was almost non-existent since it could be said that it was limited to an autarkic economy. However, the twelfth century marked a before and after in medieval society when one of the great changes in Europe linked to the rebirth of cities and consequently of activities commercial. Next, in this lesson from a TEACHER we will offer you a summary of trade in the Middle Ages.

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  1. Causes of the commercial renaissance
  2. The merchant
  3. Types of trade in the Middle Ages
  4. Routes and main transport
  5. The appearance of fairs and banks

Causes of the commercial renaissance.

We start with this summary of trade in the Middle Ages speaking of the rebirth of the sector.

The situation of commercial activity will change when cities begin to gain importance again, that is, after several centuries of conflict peace reigns in Europe and this was accompanied by an increase in the population, an improvement in food conditions that in turn generated an increase in agricultural production reaching generate surpluses that are those that were sold thanks to the new commercial routes, both land and sea, revitalizing, for example, trade between the West and East.

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Three were the main activities for the population after the development of the commercial activity: food, housing and clothing.

In this other lesson from a PROFESSOR we will discover how medieval city and its parts.

The merchant.

The development of trade in the Middle Ages was accompanied by the birth of a new figure linked to this activity and was the merchant. The merchant was a type of professional merchant, the majority of rural origin, who at first due to the increase in the population were forced to leave the field because, although there was a greater demographic increase, the lands were the same so they chose to lead a lifestyle migratory.

The first merchants to sell their products they chose small distances because the roads were bad and when they least expected it the bandits would assault them, also if on the way he had to cross a fiefdom, the lord of the land either confiscated the goods (which used to be basic necessities, such as wool, cereals, salt, honey ...) or made him pay a tax.

Little by little, and as trade boomed, the distances were increasing selling their products at fairs and using means of transport, such as carts drawn by oxen or horses. In addition, the range of products to sell was expanded, which were not only limited to basic necessities but also to luxury products such as spices and perfumes.

From the 14th century on, merchants chose to settle in cities since the growing volume throughout these years was such that it made it difficult to move around the different fairs, so they decided to dedicate themselves to wholesaling.

In a PROFESSOR we discover the main characteristics of feudal society.

Trade in the Middle Ages - Summary - The merchant

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Types of trade in the Middle Ages.

Continuing with this summary of trade in the Middle Ages we will now focus on the different types of businesses that developed.

The first one that happened was local type and is the one it was produced from the countryside to the city, in which both the free peasants as well as the feudal lords sold their surpluses to the city that They came from their lands so they were mainly the products of the field, wood, wool and leather. Later, with the profits already obtained in the city, they bought other more elaborate merchandise that they could not obtain in the field, such as agricultural tools or fabrics.

The another type of trade that occurred was international, and for this there were two main focuses, Flanders and Northern Italy, both areas were highly populated and were generally dedicated to the manufacture of objects, fabrics, metal and ceramics.

  • Northern Italy: across the Mediterranean and an ancient Roman road network the major cities of Italy (Pisa, Genoa, Venice) controlled trade with the Orient. What Italy did was sell the products of her land, as well as those of northern Europe, and perfumes, spices and silks were brought from the East.
  • Flanders: It enjoyed a very good geographical situation, as it was facing the North Sea into which rivers such as the Mosna or the Rhine flowed. In addition, Flanders was part of one of the best-known commercial leagues, the Hanseatic League, organized by some German merchants who were in charge of monopolizing exports from northern Europe to London, in such a way that it came to consolidate an important trafficking of products such as wood, wheat and hides and it was in Flanders, specifically in Bruges, where the port of storage and redistribution to the rest of the regions was located European.
Trade in the Middle Ages - Summary - Types of trade in the Middle Ages

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Routes and main transport.

There were three main routes to trade: sea lanes, waterways and land lanes.

  • The Roadways were those that allowed to reach the deepest areas where the rivers did not reach, however, the roads were very unsafe and bad, they had to pay a large amount of taxes for what was the most expensive means of transport and therefore the least used.
  • The River transport he was one of those chosen to trade, although he was also taxed. Some of the most important river networks were those of the Rhône, Rhine and all the latticework of the different rivers that exist in the Flanders area.
  • The sea route was the preferred one for merchants because, although the slowness of the trips was greater, with just one boat it was possible to carry the loads of several merchants.

The appearance of fairs and banks.

And to finish with this summary of commerce in the Middle Ages we will now speak of the appearance of new methods of commerce such as For example, the fairs that appeared as a type of national and international market and closely linked to the figures of the merchants.

It was about one commercial activity that prevailed in Europe throughout the 13th century, carried out in certain periods of the year, that is to say, they are temporary, no permanent markets. These used to last several days, days that were also holidays and not only people linked to the trade but also minstrels and puppeteers who enlivened the atmosphere attended.

One of the best known fairs was the Champagne fair due to its geographical location that ended up making it one of the main encounters between Italian merchants and flamingos, and also for being free of taxes to all the merchants who came to it as the counts of Champagne.

Parallel to this commercial progress is established a monetary development in which I know they started minting coins, and to put them into circulation throughout Europe, because, although at first the merchants carried the money with them, the advance in commerce supposed that it was impossible to carry large amounts of money for fear that merchants could be assaulted.

In this way, to streamline business transactions the first banks appeared and of course, the bankers, whose function was based on recognizing the different currencies, their weight and their equivalents. Many of these bankers eventually became money changers, and his work was based on having different types of currencies so that a merchant could exchange it for another and thus buy in other countries.

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