Medieval Towns - Timelines.tv History of Britain A03

Medieval Towns - Timelines.tv History of Britain A03

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00:01
all right so the life of a medieval peasant not a life I'd wish on anyone I suppose in my urban existence I miss something of their contact with the land the seasons I suppose in my rather material existence I miss something of their spirituality but the fact remains their lives were narrow what I have is opportunity the freedom to go where I like the freedom to make my own choices
00:32
to pursue my destiny that kind of freedom in medieval England was a rare and precious gift but it was available to some not out here in the countryside but in the towns this is Ledbury in heritage like most of the market hands below its roots go back to Saxon days and the streets are still laid out according to a 13th century plan hardly ideal for modern traffic but a great place to
01:09
explore the roots of our urban society all right so how did a place like Ledbury emerge well it all began with a market held here on the land that fronted the Minster Church LED breeze on the main thoroughfare between her food and Worcester it seemed an obvious place for the Bishop of Worcester to found a church and so people would come from miles around there go to church but then taking advantage of the presence of all of those people they started to trade this became a place where you could sell
01:47
whatever produce you had leftover once your family was fed this became a place where you could buy the craft goods you needed that you couldn't make yourself pots and pans and tools and belt buckles until finally it was the market not the church that was drawing the crowds and in the year 1138 the bishop applied to the King for a license to hold a regular Sunday market here and by Royal Charter the market town of Ledbury was born now you wind on a hundred and fifty years from that first Royal Charter to
02:22
the late 13th century what would a visitor to Ledbury have seen well by then all the plots lining the main crossroads here in Ledbury had been leased by the bishop who owned this land to merchants we've records of Brewers carpenters Weaver's goldsmith Sadler's each took a frontage onto the street with a tilted plank to show their wares and in exchange for the right and leave and trade here in Ledbury they paid their landlord the bishop not
02:54
service but rent twelve pence a year now what does it matter that they paid in rent and not service well it meant that the town's men and women were free unlike the peasants bound in service in the countryside here the town's folk answered to no one and here's a thing should any peasant run away from his master if he escaped the confines of the manor and made it to the town and hid out here for a year and a day without being caught by the law of the land he
03:27
was declared a free man town air makes free that's what they used to say and we're talking about more than physical freedom we're talking about the freedom to live a life of variety opportunity of promise not dependent feel survival on the weather and the harvest but on your wits here the primary purpose of life wasn't to grow Sun metaphorical turnip with all the back-breaking labor that that
04:05
involved here the purpose in life was to make money with which you could pay some other poor sap to grow turnips and with any cash left over you could buy all the luxuries of life for avala tea and entertainment or what pass for entertainment in those days and now your Klein lined someone else's pocket and so the merry dance continued all across England towns developed a parallel culture to the world of the countryside
04:35
in time they evolved their own systems of government free from the traditional chain of command from King to barons and night to peasant towns men and women elected mayors and burgers to represent them different trades clubbed together into so-called guilds the guilds maintained craft standards and they looked after their own when times got hard a world within a world a world of merchants of shopkeepers an urban world
05:11
and a glimpse of the nation we were yet to become

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