Can you name the most developed cities of the Middle Ages?
Another maritime republic whose populace profited from trade and craft was Genoa. Advantageously situated on the western flank of the Italian peninsula, this city had a major trading port which is used to export and import goods across the Mediterranean to Aragon and other kingdoms. Much like commercial rival Venice, Genoa colonised parts of the middle east as well as some coastal areas of the Black and Aegean seas. Both republics having similar pursuits with shared trade routes proved frictional, and many naval battles occurred throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The two states were frequently at war with one another. The Genoese and Venetians transported pilgrims and crusaders to the Levant and supplied the garrisons of Syrian ports. Such involvement in the crusades brought wealth and stability to the republics and many other European cities and towns. With many men fighting overseas, a more peaceful society was created within communities of the cities themselves. The circulation of money and the value of trade increased which greatly contributed to the growth of the Italian city-states. Especially with regards to Genoa since a considerable amount of its residents had to sell homes and belongings to pay for food, shelter and equipment for the crusades thus, leaving property for merchants to acquire and set up enterprises. The maritime republics gained the most revenue from the crusades and used it to expand their cities, widening their influence on the societies of Italy and beyond.
Unlike the maritime cities, the growth of Florence was initially hindered by its inland isolation and lack of access to the major land routes that ran north. A disadvantage of the city was a shortage of decent local supply but an increase of entrepreneurial merchant companies travelling as far as Flanders and England to source raw materials helped revitalise the industry. The gradual revival of Mediterranean trade was crucial to the expansion of Florence and many other Italian city-states. The cloth was in high demand from the eleventh century, and Florence was at the epicentre of its production. To cover the time-consuming purchase and selling of raw materials, the Florentines established a banking network and the Florin, first minted in 1252, became the most stable and widespread currency of the continent. In the fourteenth century, Florentine family firms like the Peruzzi and the Bardi were among Europe’s wealthiest and Florence benefited greatly from the major trade route north from Rome now passing through the city. Social development in Florence was partly influenced by politics. The city was granted independence in 1115 by Countess Matilda of Tuscia who enabled the creation of a commercial government.