Today I learned a lot about town life in the Middle Ages.
Towns and cities began to spring up in Europe in 1096. This happened once the townspeople freed themselves from the noblemen. The noblemen were people who used to control the townspeople and tell them what to do. Some of the townspeople payed the noblemen to get their freedom. Others fought against the noblemen. Because of these things, little by little, the noblemen completely lost control of the townspeople and the feudal system died out.
A lot of towns not only grew, but became important. The towns become important because they were towns people could live in without paying high taxes, and they were towns people could live in without having the noblemen controlling them. Some of the towns from the Middle Ages — London, Paris, Venice, Genoa, etc. — still exist today.
These important towns still had to be protected, should anyone decide to attack them. A high wall completely surrounded the city. A drawbridge, the way to enter the city, could be pulled up and closed and bolted. Some buildings inside the town had to have a gate around them. There was even a place in the towns called a citadel. The citadel was a very-protected building were the townspeople could go in case an attack happened where someone found a way to enter the cities.
The way the townspeople lived and the ways the towns were built was different from today. The townspeople’s homes were crowded close together and were made of wood. They were about five or six stories high with steep, pointed roofs. On many of the houses the upper stories extended out over the lower ones. All the shops were all on the same street, and the shopkeepers had their homes in the same buildings as their shops. Churches were built in the center of the towns to remind the townspeople that that the church is the central of life. You can still see some old churches today that were built in the center of the cities.
Like today, the townspeople sometimes had fairs. People had booths where they would sell things, and their were things like jugglers at the fair. You could watch a real bear at the fair that was taught to dance. These are just some of the things you could do.
Once a week, the towns of the Middle Ages had a market day. A market day was similar to a fair, except without the amusements. It was where farmers from the neighborhoods sold merchants and food.
This was all very interesting to me because centuries after the Middle Ages things are so different from today, especially with improved technology. To learn more about the Middle Ages, Wikipedia is one of many websites that can help you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Ages