The Rise of Commerce and Towns

The Rise of Commerce and Towns - The Rise of Commerce and...

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The Rise of Commerce and Towns The year 1000 was a turning point in the fortunes of western Europe. Within a decade of that date, Olaf had converted most of the Scandinavians to Christianity, and the Viking threat came to an end. King Stephen accepted Christianity for himself and the Hungarian people, and the Magyars joined Christendom. The Muslim Caliphate of Cordoba collapsed into civil war, and the armed merchant vessels of the Italian city-states wrested control of the western Mediterranean from the Muslim fleets of north Africa. The Muslims who controlled the mountain passes between France and Italy made the mistake of capturing Majolus, abbot of Cluny, and holding him for ransom. After obtaining his freedom, the Burgundian warrior class drove the Muslims from their fortresses and restored secure land communication between France and Italy. Otto I, the German emperor, entered Rome and freed the papacy from the control of local Roman political factions. He turned the papacy over to Gerbert of Aurillac, a learned and reform-minded monk and teacher, and the Cluniac reform movement finally reached the highest levels of the western Church. Meanwhile, the Guiscards and Hautevilles, a family of adventurers from Normandy, began the reconquest of southern Italy and the establishment of the Norman Kingdom of Naples and Sicily. Western Europe's economic fortunes began to change just as quickly. The rulers of Kiev had destroyed the Khazar state to the east of them and, by so doing, removed a buffer that had protected the Varangian Route of Russian rivers from the peoples of central Asia. One of these peoples, the Patchinaks (there are various spellings of this name), settled around 1000 in those lands where the Varangian rivers entered the Black Sea. The Varangian route was blocked, and merchants began once again to carry goods from the Baltic to Mediterranean markets by way of the Seine- Loire-Garonne/Rhone river routes of France. In turn, Eastern merchants in appreciable numbers began to appear once again in the West. Two other events, less appreciated than those we have mentioned, also altered the economic situation of western Europe. Shortly after 1000, the old slave routes linking Poland with western Europe were reopened, but the traders were now driving cattle and horses west to trade for manufactured goods. This trade would prove to be an important factor in Poland's conversion to the western, Roman Catholic form of Christianity. Finally, with the use of new engineering techniques, a bridge was constructed that
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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The Rise of Commerce and Towns - The Rise of Commerce and...

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