Cities

Questions:

Houses and Living

There were many houses in medieval cities. Merchant's houses were three to four stories high. The houses were usually made from wood, with straw roofs. The ground floor was the shop because people could see through the windows and see all the wares. The second floor was the living area, including beds for owners and living room. The third floor was the kitchen with a huge fireplace. On the fourth floor, if there was one, was the servants' rooms.
With the poorer part of the population they lived in smaller houses, usually one to two floors. These houses had small gardens outside where small vegetables were grown for eating.
Even some of the richer people slept on straw beds and the best you could get was a bed made from feathers.
external image medieval%20city.jpg

City Government

Burghers and Lords were the most rich and the most powerful people in the cities but there were differences: Lords were the ones who taxed people and merchants. The Burghers were at the top of the government pyramid. They were mostly the middle class merchants. The Lords, on the other hand, were born with power.
The Burghers were trying to get rid of lords.
The poor had no representatives in the government. If they protested, they were put down by force. Sometimes soldiers pushed them out of the city. There were many beggars. Many beggars went to weddings and funerals of the rich because the families would give out money to the crowd.

Religion in the Cities

There were many religions in the Middle Ages including Islam, Judaism, and Christianity (mostly Christianity in Europe). As usual the Jews were shunned and sent on the road. They chose the easiest job to take on the road: money lending. Another reason the Jews chose money lending as a job was that they were not allowed to part of Medieval guilds. Muslims were usually in the Middle-Eastern cities so they could take any job they liked. Christians had their own little problem and that is they followed all the laws of their religion. That meant that if you had to finish something by Monday given to you on Saturday you better work fast because you were not allowed to work on Sabbath (Sunday). The Church took care of some poor.

Jobs in Medieval Cities

There were many different jobs in Medieval cities such as inn keeper, police, weaver, blacksmith and many more. Most of the jobs were craft. Children usually started training their craft at the age of eleven or twelve. Usually they would learn the family business, or their parents would hire someone to train them. Kids were trained for 7 years, then sent out to begin working.
Job
Frequency Per city
shoe maker
366
furrier
214
maidservant
199
jeweler
131
carpenter
95
chandler
71
glover
21
There were also guilds - association of craftsmen based on their trades. Guilds were there to protect there business, to ensure high quality, and to help the old and sick.

City Dwellers' Taxes

Strangely enough there were no taxes for helping the less fortunate. It was considered their own problem and usually the poor had to pay more money in taxes than the rich. There were donations to the Church, which wasn't a tax but many felt obliged to do it. There was also the merchant law that any merchant entering the town had to pay a tax to sell their goods, and if they didn't keep paying the tax, lords would cut prices of their goods.



Book's That Connect

The Puppeteer's ApprenticeBibliography:
Padrino, Mercedes, Cities and Towns in the Middle Ages, World Almanac Library, Milwaukee, WI, 2006.
http://www.svincent.com/MagicJar/Economics/MedievalOccupations.html

Image

http://www.historiasiglo20.org/MEC-BC/images/medieval%20city.jpg