ISLINGTON HOUSING NEWS SUPPLEMENT

HISTORY OF CITY HOUSING No.5

November 1977

1. From 1200 AD - 1400 AD

In our last newsletter we looked at what was happening in towns from 1000 AD to 1200 AD.

We now look at the next 200 years from 1200 AD to 1400 AD.

2. MORE TOWNS AND PEOPLE

Europe emerged from the Dark Ages of chaos and hunger into centuries of expansion.

Towns sprang up all over Europe. There were more towns than in the days of the Roman Empire.

The population of Europe shot up. As an example, from 1000 AD to 1300 AD, the numbers of people in France increased from 6 million to over 18 million.

3. INTO THE TOWNS

On the land the working people were little more than slaves - serfs imprisoned by the feudal system.

When they could they escaped; t ?y flocked to the towns that seemed to offer prospects of a new and exciting life.

The slogan was "City air makes Man free".

4. GROWTH OF TOWNS

The towns were able to cope with this influx. This was because more food was being grown and because more money was being made from trade and banking.

 

5. IN GERMANY

On the shores of the Baltic tough, aggresive groups of Germans started trading.

They banded together to form the Hanseatic League controlling Lubeck (15,000 population) Hamburg (5,000), Bremen and Danzig.

They established trading posts in most European cities. In London they operated from the Steelyard.

Where the country was weak enough the Hanseatic League used bullying tactics to push its trade.

6. AND IN ITALY

The lively urban civilisation of Italy continued to develop. In the 15th century they were to give birth to the Renaissance.

They were to set a style for life in cities that was perhaps never to be surpassed.

7. FLORENCE

But these towns were founded on trade and banking. Florence in 1338 had 200 workshops and produced 80,000 pieces of cloth a year.

In 200 years its area increased 10 times and its population grew from 6,000 to 74,000.

Other Italian towns - Venice, Milan, Sienna, Pisa and Genoa grew in the same way.

 

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