The Urban Revolution of the eleventh and twelfth centuries lead to the decline of feudalism in the Middle Ages. With the emergence of urban societies, the feudal system was making function of society intolerable. …
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The Urban Revolution of the eleventh and twelfth centuries lead to the decline of feudalism in the Middle Ages. With the emergence of urban societies, the feudal system was making function of society intolerable. To accurately define urban, Webster's dictionary states it as, "of, relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city"("Urban") and revolution is defined as "a fundamental change in political organization; especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed."("Revolution") Thus, the Urban Revolution can then rightfully be taken as a political change from one government to the emergence of cities.To understand the decline of feudalism, it is first essential to understand what feudalism was and how it worked. Feudalism was the form of government prior to the rise of the Urban Revolution. The country was represented by a King in feudalism. However, it is not the same as a dictatorship. Feudalism is a rather complex system that emerged through seven centuries. There was no money trade; instead it was more of a land and service trade ("Feudalism"). To be more concise, the King granted land to nobles for their loyalty and service. The peasants, to secure their safety, worked on manors which were land owned by the nobles; these peasants were called serfs. This was the basic concept of feudalism. The trade of land and service was returned by loyalty and safety respectively. This made lives for serfs terrible, because they were bound to manors and had very little liberty in achieving personal wealth and success ("Feudalism").
During the Middle Ages, it was common to find people form small communities around a central lord or master, the King. This of course gave the king vast power. For his safety he gave land grants known as fiefs, to his most trustworthy nobles and they provided for him an army to safeguard him and his wealth ("Feudal Life"). This undermined the serfs, or peasants, who worked on large manors merely to be able to live. But eventually, the king's dominant power became less as the nobles, who had granted powers to lesser nobility known as vassals, increased in power. These vassals posed a direct threat to the king. At long last in the eleventh century, 1215 to be exact, the King was forced to sign the Magna Carter ("Feudal Life"). The Magna Carter was the first document signed to actually limit the power of a monarch. Even though feudalism was still not diminished at this point, it was definitely a start.
Many changes lead to the fall of feudalism. As more and more vassals gained power, the King's power and authority was becoming weak. With this, the serfs and peasants also wanted their escape from the feudal system (Reynolds). It was the economic disadvantages of fear of wars that lead the peasants to surrender their land and service in the first place. However, as population increased, unemployment increased and this frustrated the nobles and vassals; the trend was about to change. Increasing taxes from the Church of England also added fuel to the already helpless population ("Democracy"). Money was being used now as a means of trade and this change affected not only the economy but also the government and society.
In twelfth century, the Plague, "Black Death" caused the population to immensely decrease. Since there was a decrease in population, it also meant a decrease of labor on manors, the "masters of feudal estates had to 'hire' labour" ("Democracy"). With this, the trend of money exchange started and thus, everyone wanted to either sell or buy something. Since money was being used, the principles of feudalism were becoming weak because it was no longer a land for loyalty and security for service exchange.
There is no one date for the beginning of the Urban Revolution. The term Urban Revolution was first coined by Australian archaeologist V. G. Childe
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