Medieval Cities: Their Origins and the Revival of Trade by Henri PirenneHenri Pirenne is best known for his provocative argument--known as the Pirenne thesis and familiar to all students of medieval Europe--that it was not the invasion of the Germanic tribes that destroyed the civilization of antiquity, but rather the closing of Mediterranean trade by Arab conquest in the seventh century. The consequent interruption of long distance commerce accelerated the decline of the ancient cities of Europe. Pirenne first formulated his thesis in articles and then expanded on them in Medieval Cities. In the book Pirenne traces the growth of the medieval city from the tenth century to the twelfth, challenging conventional wisdom by attributing the origins of medieval cities to the revival of trade. In addition, Pirenne describes the clear role the middle class played in the development of the modern economic system and modern culture. The Pirenne thesis was fully worked out in the book Mohammed and Charlemagne, which appeared shortly after Pirennes death.
Pirenne was one of the worlds leading historians and arguably the most famous Belgium had produced. During World War I, while teaching at the University of Ghent, he was arrested for supporting Belgiums passive resistance and deported to Germany, where he was held from 1916 to 1918. In 1922, universities in various parts of the United States invited him to deliver lectures: out of these lectures grew Medieval Cities, which appeared in English translation before being published in French in 1927.
Today, Tokyo is the most populous city in the world; through most of the 20th century it was New York. Over the course of human history, a great number of cities have held this title. From Jericho in BC to Tokyo in AD, this map plots 48 cities from history, each estimated to have been, at one time, the largest in the world. This map is based on historical population estimates from four different researchers, and is not a definitive list. Anecdotes abound regarding the meteoric rise of Uber and its devastation of the traditional taxi industry in cities around the world. However, the comparison is difficult to quantify since available data is limited for both taxis and Uber.
Medieval European urbanization presents a line of continuity between earlier cities and modern European urban systems. Yet, many of the spatial, political and economic features of medieval European cities were particular to the Middle Ages, and subsequently changed over the Early Modern Period and Industrial Revolution. There is a long tradition of demographic studies estimating the population sizes of medieval European cities, and comparative analyses of these data have shed much light on the long-term evolution of urban systems. However, the next step—to systematically relate the population size of these cities to their spatial and socioeconomic characteristics—has seldom been taken. This raises a series of interesting questions, as both modern and ancient cities have been observed to obey area-population relationships predicted by settlement scaling theory. To address these questions, we analyze a new dataset for the settled area and population of European cities from the early fourteenth century to determine the relationship between population and settled area.
If there's one thing everyone can seem to agree on about George R. Seven large kingdoms, each with multiple cities and towns, share a populous continent. Urban traders ply the Narrow Sea in galleys, carrying cargoes of wine, grains, and other commodities to the merchants of the Free Cities in the east. Slavers raid the southern continent and force slaves to work as miners, farmers, or household servants. There is a powerful bank based in the Venice-like independent republic of Braavos. A guild in Qarth dominates the international spice trade. New religions from across the sea threaten old beliefs; meanwhile, many in the ruling elite are closet atheists.
But how much do you really know about the Middle Ages? Here, John H Arnold, professor of medieval history at Birkbeck, University of London, reveals 10 things about the period that might surprise you. The population of Europe increased hugely across the 12th and 13th centuries, with cities and towns getting much larger. Paris grew about ten-fold and London nearly as much in this period. In the cities, people had all kinds of jobs: merchants, salesmen, carpenters, butchers, weavers, foodsellers, architects, painters, jugglers….