Thanks to the use of new agricultural methods, cereal production increased from the 11th century onward. While many people went on working the land, others had the opportunity to become specialized in a craft. And still others engaged in trading. Monetary exchanges flourished.
Craftsmen and merchants established themselves in the cities, which often lay at the junction of roads and waterways. Many kinds of taxes were levied inside the city walls.
Being short of money, the counts and bishops were forced to sell parts of their rights to the city councils. For instance, the right to build city walls, to mint coins, to hold an annual fair and the right to levy all sorts of taxes.
The city council used the tax proceeds to maintain roads, city walls and other defensive works. Moreover, the money paid the salaries of the city’s clerical staff and public servants.
The cities introduced many new methods in the fields of finance and taxes, for instance well-ordered bookkeeping and all kinds of techniques for measuring and weighing foods and luxury goods. This enabled them to determine excise and other duties quite accurately.
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