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Until fairly recently the middle ages have been recognized as a period of social and economic stagnation The humanists of the renaissance whose ideal was inspired by the antique civilization considered the medieval world as a period of darkness and influenced greatly the biased perception of future generations Even though it is true that the middle ages were characterized by political and social instability the institutions which emerged in Western Europe were to be the foundations of the greatest social and economic revolution mankind has ever encountered Indeed the industrial revolution which followed the so called dark ages affected society in such a way that in a lifetime a man could have seen more changes than all his ancestors combined Throughout this essay I will analyze the changes that began to change the medieval world into an early modern one As I describe these changes I will comment on their effect on future societies and whether on balance futures societies have gained or lost from these transformations The economy of the medieval world was to a great extent agricultural Even though the urban population grew steadily especially in Italy and the Nederland it is the rural institutions which shaped the social political and economic landscape of the medieval world After the fall of the Roman Empire many barbarian tribes tried to established kingdoms in Europe but very few succeeded The Francs did established somewhat of a comprehensive kingdom in France and later in other parts of Europe but lacked effective administrative organisation or financial means and was only a pale reflect of the old Roman Empire It is therefore in a context where no strong political power was able to dominate the majority of Europe that the seigniorial system emerged as the major social institution of the medieval world In its simplest form the seigniorial system had three very distinctive social classes the nobles to protect the population and impose
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