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Urban society

Seminar and Essay Questions

  • Why were some areas of Europe more urbanized than others?
  • Did the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of urban life in the Middle Ages?
  • In what sense was there a commercial revolution in the thirteenth century?
  • What roles did merchant and craft guilds play in medieval towns?


Introductory Reading

Barber, The Two Cities, 48-79

Bartlett, The Making of Europe, 167-196, 233-235, 280-288

Power, The Central Middle Ages, 57-90.

Waley and Denley, Later Medieval Europe, 15-21, 90-92


Further Reading

Bautier, R.-H., The Economic Development of Medieval Europe (London, 1971)

Blockmans, Wim, Mikhail Krom and Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz (eds.), The Routledge handbook of maritime trade around Europe 1300-1600 (Routledge, 2017) (lots of useful articles)

Brundage, James A., 'Usury' in Joseph R. Strayer et al. (eds.), Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 13 vols. (New York, 1982-89), vol. 12, pp. 335-9.

Davis, James, Medieval market morality : life, law and ethics in the English marketplace, 1200-1500, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Day, John, The Medieval Market Economy (Oxford, 1987)

Duby, Georges, The Early Growth of the European Economy: Warriors and Peasants from the Seventh to the Twelfth Century (Ithaca, NY, 1974)

Epstein, S. R., Guilds, innovation and the European economy, 1400-1800. (Leiden: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Gerrard, Daniel, 'William of Malmesbury and Civic Virtue' in Discovering William of Malmesbury, Rodney M. Thomson , Emily Dolmans , Emily A. Winkler (eds.) (Boydell and Brewer, 2018), pp.27-36.

Hanawalt, Barbara, Growing Up in Medieval London: The Experience of Childhood in History (Oxford, 1993) [also online]

Holt, Richard, and Rosser, Gervase, (eds.), The English Medieval Town: A Reader in English Urban History 1200-1540 (London, 1990)

Howell, Martha C., Commerce before capitalism in Europe, 1300-1600 (Cambridge, 2010).

Hunt, Edwin S., and Murray, James M., A History of Business in Medieval Europe, 1200-1550 (Cambridge, 1999)

Le Goff, Jacques, Time, Work, and Culture in the Middle Ages, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago, 1980)

Lopez, Robert S. et al. (eds. and trans.), Medieval Trade in the Mediterranean World (1955; rept. 2001) [An important collection of documents]

Lopez, Robert S., The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages 950-1350 (Cambridge, 1976)

Mollat, Michel, The Poor in the Middle Ages, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (New Haven, 1986)

Nicholas, David, Medieval Flanders (London, 1992)

Nicholas, David, The Growth of the Medieval City (Harlow, 1997)

Nicholas, David, The Later Medieval City (Harlow, 1997)

Ogilvie, Sheilagh C., Institutions and European Trade : Merchant Guilds, 1000-1800 (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Pirenne, Henri, Medieval Cities: Their Origins and the Revival of Trade (Princeton, NJ, 1952)

Postan, M.M., et al. (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol. 2: Trade and Industry in the Middle Ages, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1987)

Pounds, N., An Economic History of Medieval Europe, 2nd ed. (London, 1994)

Spufford, Peter, Money and Its Use in Medieval Europe (Cambridge, 1988)

Spufford, Peter, Power and Profit: The Merchant in Medieval Europe (London, 2002)

Wood, Diana, Medieval Economic Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)