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Word Count: 540
There are three theories to explain the emergence of towns in Europe One theory states that towns began as fortifications against Viking attacks The second theory says towns started when merchants engaging in long distance trade would settle outside the walls of a fort The third explanation claims that large cathedrals and monasteries had schools in them and would attract students from all around Traders would settle near these churches and the population would grow All three theories have validity but none of them explain the origins of all European towns The increase in productivity from the 11th through the 14th centuries led to the growth of market towns and cities Townspeople bought foodstuffs and raw supplies from rural areas and sold crafts made by local artisans as well as items imported from other regions Towns and townspeople became independent of the landholding aristocracy and were able to regulate their own businesses through charters granted by kings Coins became a convenient medium of exchange and a money-based economy complete with banking investing and lending activities emerged European merchants and investors formed competing trade networks The merchants of the older Italian city-states such as Genoa Venice and Pisa brought luxury goods from the east and from North African ports in exchange for Europes raw materials In the 12th and 13th centuries a group of northern German towns formed the Hanseatic League The league monopolized the trade routes that transported raw goods such as timber furs and metals along the Baltic Sea North Sea and major rivers In doing so they linked Germany England the Low Countries Scandinavia and eastern European countries Although the majority of Europeans still lived in rural areas towns increasingly dominated the landscape Territorial expansion innovations in agriculture and the development of cities and trade brought rapid economic change to medieval Europe Changes in the availability and consumption of material goods and in population distribution radically altered European social relations and
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