Trade

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Trade

But castles, monasteries and Roman sites would not have become towns without the stimulus of growing trade.

 

The trade in question was foreign rather than domestic, and this fact determined the conditions of their growth and limited their importance It is only when England is linked by common government with some part of the Continent that we hear of towns; they fell into decay when Roman Britain was cut off from the rest of the Empire, and arose again when England became a part first of the Danish and then of the Norman overseas empires.

 

While the Saxons avoided towns the Danes contributed to their growth both directly and indirectly, for they, like the Elizabethan adventurers, were traders as well as pirates.

 

Indirectly, the Danish wars led to the founding of stockaded burhs like Hertford, Stafford and the county towns;, directly, they them-selves founded or revived the famous "Five Boroughs" of Stamford, Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln and Leicester - the last two old Roman sites. From Norwich and Chester, too, they carried on an important foreign trade with the Baltic, which of course increased under Cnut.

If we knew more about pre-Conquest England we should no doubt be able to place the years before 1066 in a better perspective, instead of regarding them merely as a preliminary to what came after; but the organization of the Anglo-Saxon town is if anything more obscure than that of the village.

 

Here, too, we have to take Domesday Book as our starting-point, and from it look both backwards to the pre-Norman town and forward to those which, like Burford in Oxfordshire, got their charters after the Conquest.

 

With the grant of a charter, a town emerged from the chrysalis stage; for this meant that the little group of traders and artisans round the lord's castle had grown strong enough to demand, or wealthy enough to buy, their freedom from the lord. Henceforward they would enjoy that freedom as a group by virtue of their charter or charters.


What next? - The Second World War: Suppressed Inflation.

 

 

Towns Arise

A town, in fact, provides a focus for human activities, other than agriculture, which require the people of a region to gather together, permanently or from time to time, in a single place. Foremost among these activities are trade, religion and defence. People come together to buy and sell, to worship, to defend themselves readily against outside enemies; and where they gather for these purposes, sooner or later a. permanent settlement will grow up. Moreover, for whatever reason people may have gathered together in the first place, their settlement is likely to attract others; further activities... see: Towns Arise


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