The Medieval Marketplace
The growth in Trade
As Europe became more peaceful and orderly, people began to be more
interested in buying things and demands for luxury items such as silks
and gems increased. Trade grew and medieval merchants who used to be
just peddlars became more properous and a rich merchant class emerged.
The marketplace became the focus of many towns. New jobs were created
in towns as well as new powerful estabilshments like banks. This had an
negative effect on the old feudal system.
By the 1300s, as the cities grew richer and more powerful, the
merchant class wanted their freedom. In England this was bought by paying
an annual tax to the king or Lord and the free towns became known as boroughs.
Coins in the Middle Ages
Medieval European coinage was standardized by Charlemagne around 800
AD when he conquered most of Europe. The standard Denier (Penny in English,
Pfennig in German, Denaro in Italian) was a silver coin about the size of
a US penny. It's thought that its value at the time was about that of a meal.
For the next 4-500 years, most coinage in Europe followed this standard pattern.
Most Medieval coins have a cross somewhere into the design. German and
other eastern regions often incorporate an eagle into the design while
English coins generally carry a crude portrait of the King. French coins
will often show a monogram, castle, or cathedral.