From the 11th century onwards, Europe had the
conditions necessary for the reactivation of trade: population and
production had grown, wealth had increased and there were the necessary
conditions of peace and security in the continent, unlike ¡n previous
Regional trade was based on exchange between cities and
the surrounding lands. From the 11th century onwards, these commercial
The improvements in the countryside led to an
agricultural surplus for trade. At the same time, the cities needed food
for their inhabitants and provided craft work for the rural areas.
Urban trade implied the necessity of bringing products from
places which were increasingly more remote and looking for other markets where
the manufactured products made in the cities could be sold. Thus, contacts
were established between different regions in Europe. Commercial links
with the Muslim world, the Byzantine Empire and the Far East
The merchants gathered periodically in commercial fairs,
where products from all the continent were taken. The most important fairs
were he in Champagne (France) throughout the year.
Rivers were the main means of transport. However,
land routes were improved and sea trade underwent important technical changes.
The birth of banking
The development of trade meant the appearance of new
commercial and financial techniques.
As of the 11th century, rich merchants started to do
commercial transactions by credit, lending money in exchange for
Another typical activity was the exchange of currency,
the origin of banking. The great number of coins in circulation and
their different values led to the appearance of a new figure, the
moneychanger, who was specialised in the valuation and exchange of
currency. They soon accepted deposits from their clients.
In the l3th century, many commercial activities were made
through written contracts with no use of cash money. This was the origin of
bills of exchange, which were created at the beginning of the l4th
The urban rebirth