Medieval Towns

townNowadays the distinction between a town and a city is often determined by population. However, during the Middle Ages if an urban setting had a bishop living on the premises it would be called a city, if it did not have a bishop it would be called a town. Most towns were formed from fortifications, which were built in the 9th and 10th century to defend against invading Vikings and Barbarians. Over time multitudes of people would travel to live behind the safety of the fortifications. Then merchants would have come and settled with the people to set up their businesses’ pretty soon they would have created a full functioning town. Most towns were built on land that belonged to a lord. Therefore, he would have the right to tax and control the people living on his property. Yet, the lord would not end up controlling them completely. The town’s people did find a way to coerce the lord into giving them more liberties than they originally had. If the lord was in a sticky situation with perhaps a warring party, the town’s people would tell him that they would help in what ever way they could, but only if the lord would grant them some liberties. The more liberties they acquired, the more people and merchants came to settle.

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