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Economic Expansion in the Middle Ages


The High Middle Ages is an era in European history that took place in the years between 1000 and 1300.  This period was preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages. The prominent historical activity of the High Middle Ages was the explosive increase in population which brought about extensive changes in the social, political and economic growth in the entire Europe. The robust population increase led to reclamation of previously waste land which had initially comprised of marshes and forests. Consequently, major achievements were made in the entire economic environment which was made possible by the political stability.


The economic expansion in Europe during the High Middle Ages was attributed to the cool climate that led to increased agricultural activities among the natives. Initially the weather used to be very cold hence hampering various activities especially those which are dependent on the weather for instance farming. The warm weather made it easier for the wheat farmers in Scandinavia to cultivate and sell high quality wheat.

Similarly, the grape farmers in the northern part of England were equally comfortable and their produce was fetching higher prices in the local and international market. The increased population provided cheap labor for the farmers who had established modern ways of farming. Such ways included adopting mixed farming to maintain the nutritional components of the soil while more efficient farming equipment such as use of horses instead of oxen to carry out the farming (Noble, et. al. 2008).

 The federation of free cities in the northern parts of England provided adequate grounds on which the farmers could carry out effective sea trade. Hence availing ready markets for producers and markers to use increased accessibility to markets was a way of encouraging them to increase production of farm goods.

The ease at which the farmers could access the markets minimized exploitation by middlemen hence the farmers could get equal value of their money which was paramount to expanding economic terms. Over time the towns which were set up as market towns developed a network which increased trading opportunities with their growth to cities (Noble, 2008).

 Other than the growth of market towns to cities, the booming population created more usable land thus more towns were constructed. Similarly, the fact that the key sectors in the European economy were growing meant that the new cities had to follow suit by building more residential houses for the entire population (Noble, 2008).

 The other aspect of economic expansion during the High Middle Ages was incorporation of technological innovations to the industrial and agriculture which led to increased efficiency in productivity. Consequently, combining the high supply of labor and appropriate technology resulted in more innovative industrial and farm-based activities which were able to fetch higher revenue. In the agricultural sector, the technology involved use of fertilizers which enhanced produce and enabled the nutritional composition of the produce to be higher (Noble, 2008).


Economic expansion in the High Middle Age was characterized by increased modernization which opened more opportunities for the natives. However, the leading factor for the economic expansion is the progressive population growth that presented better industrialization scenarios.


Noble Thomas, Strauss Barry, Osheim Duane, Neuschel Kirsten, and  Accampo Elinor. Western Civilization beyond Boundaries. vol. A (or 1), 6th ed. Wardsworth Publishing. 2008.pp. 228-250.


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