Lecture 8. Medieval Cities and Castles

This lecture will focus on the question of how did secular developments and trade influence the form of cities in the later medieval period? The increasing importance of cities as places of trade, commerce, defense, and culture is a development that parallels the rise of Gothic architecture in Europe. A part of the rise of the city reflects the growing significance of building and environments that are not tied to the church or to religious institutions but instead serve the needs of trade, commerce, defense, culture, and of course, residence. To understand these cities, we will look at a series of cites as well as their medieval castles. Both relied on well-built fortifications and defensive architecture. They both were able to control access to the interior and thus could collect taxes from merchants or others entering the city or castle. This will bring us from new towns in France and Italy as well as SE Africa. There are characteristics of medieval cities that we can describe: • Cities were often very compact, minimizing circumference • Central squares would become increasingly important • Guild halls or other forms of merchant and trade elite become increasingly important • Cathedrals or other major religious and cultural sites were important- often distinct from or a distance away from markets and trade centers, but not always • And finally, due to density the round city often made the most sense as it was te best use of space... some scholars (Vincent Scully) refer to this as an organic system or urban plan.

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Lecture Notes