Individual Artists

The Late Middle Ages by Adam Woog

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By Adam Woog

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These countries then turned the raw wool into high-quality garments and sold them elsewhere. As a result, the cloth-manufacturing cities of the Low Countries, notably Ghent and Bruges, became significant commercial hubs. ”26 60 What the Magna Carta Said S ome of the Magna Carta’s clauses are irrelevant today. However, others outline principles of law that remain fundamental to modern society. The “Great Charter” represents a milestone in the acceptance of certain individual rights and outlined the basic ideas behind representative government—specifically of England’s constitutional monarchy, which combined royalty with a parliament of representatives.

The Pope’s Call to Arms The Crusades began in 1096 with a call to arms from the reigning pope, Urban II. He was in part inspired by a request from the emperor of the Byzantine Empire, a Christian, who needed help in fending off invading Turkish Muslims. This original goal soon expanded to include an assault on the Holy Land. One incentive that the pope used to spur interest in the proposed holy war was the promise of a valuable spiritual reward. Urban announced that “soldiers of the church,” as they became known, would be guaranteed forgiveness of their sins, as well as a place in heaven, whether they survived or died in battle.

Royalty frequently supported cities in these fights for freedom. There were several reasons for this. For one thing, an urban center that was no longer controlled by local lords sent its taxes directly to the monarch’s treasury. Furthermore, people in free cities were often more loyal to the monarch than to their lord. This helped the king control rebellious lords. Along with the rise of guilds and an increase in commerce came the development of a new social stratum: the middle class. This class, primarily urban, occupied a place between nobles and peasants.

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