Group Name– The Black Death
What role did trade, commerce, the growth cart and trade guilds play in the growth of these cities? - ALYSSA
How did houses, shops, and streets look? - ELICIA

Development of the English City

People in Britain used to live on farms and grew crops for a living. They tended to herds of animals also. They slowly moved out of this stage. The people moved towards gathering together in cities. They gathered around a river or stream. The cities became places of trade. The 12th century was the time period when the populations of cities were going drastically up. The crops were lavishly growing. One hundred new towns were created in England and Wales between 1066 and 1190. New towns kept poppng up into the 13th century. Towns were built for a certain purpose. Some towns were meant to prosper and others were built to fail. Some towns were founded so that castles could be constructed. The most successful town of the English medieval planned towns was Salisbury. Eventually, the climate cooled and famine staled the land, weakening resistance to infection. People were gathered so closely in towns that they became more vulnerable to outbreaks of infections.Ships came back to England from their voyages and brought diseased black rats with them.The Black Death spread fast due to the rats and their fleas. The Black Death destroyed half the population of Britain in the mid-14th century.

The Spread of the Black Death
The Spread of the Black Death

Growth of Cities

As towns grew, trade also increased. Towns relied on trade to prosper and and support its community. International trade also came about, but it was rarely used because just in-town trade was hard enough because people did not have much means of travel. Increasing trade, however, usually meant increasing the size of the town as well. With more business opportunites, more people were attracted to the city life.

Trade and Commerce:

  • Towns and cities relied on trade.

  • Successful towns attracted many merchants and led to many trade guilds.

  • As commerce grew the towns grew: people were attracted to bigger towns so the more shops a town had the more people would move there.

Trade Guilds:

  • Trade was controlled by guilds in medieval cities

  • Merchants regulated quality, prices, and business practices

  • Guilds had patron saints, celebrated religious festivals, and put on religious plays

  • Each guild looked after the health and welfare of their members and families, but if you were expelled from a guild you were left with nothing

Size of English Cities

  • cities were very small and there were very few of them
  • religious centers attracted people and cities developed from there

  • largest towns were outside of London and they were: Lincoln, Canterbury, Chichester, York, Bath and Hereford

  • they were cathedral cities

  • Canterbury Cathedral became a very special place to the pilgrims after the death of Thomas Becket in 1170

  • big market fairs increased population

  • towns grew around areas where people could meet (crossroads, rivers, etc.)

  • a nearby water suppy was vital because towns needed more water than villages to provide for its people

  • towns had large gates around them that were locked at night to keep out unwanted people

  • homes were made of wood and because cost was expensive, houses were simple

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Click here to watch a video tour of a medieval city in Germany!

City Dwellers

City dwellers weren't the rich merchants or craftsmen, they weren't even citizens. They served the rich people. They worked as servants, maids, assistants, housekeepers, and casual workers. Duties of the dwellers included; cooking, baking, laundry, growing vegetables, looking after farm animals, and the assistants helped at the office.

Click here to complete a crossword puzzle about city dwellers and their duties

The Black Death Effects

  • Homes were left empty to be robbed by those who already were affected by the dieseas
  • Farmers abanded their crops and livestock
  • Animals were left to fend for themselves
  • Streets were desolate

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Why the Black Death?

The Black Death spread rapidly everywhere. It spread to rural and urban communities. The word "Black" was given to the bubonic plague because of the black spotting the people would get on their skin. The plague continued to break out in little burst every now and then. People could not be buried fast enough and that did not help the situation. The reason our topic was called the Black Death is because cities had bad living conditions and everyone was packed into one area. They relied on water from a river or stream nearby. There was no sewage system at all. People would throw sewage into the streets along with other garbage. No wonder they got diseases so easily.