A Comparative History of Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and Yarmouth During the Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century
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From the middle of the eleventh century until the Black Plague and the beginning to the Hundred Years War during the fourteenth century European civilization experienced a tremendous growth in intellectual, social, and economic activity. This growth made possible the many achievements of the High Middle Ages. The expansion of old towns and the emergence of new ones was both an important factor in, and a major consequence of, this growth. Most studies made about medieval urbanization concern individual towns and cities, while little work compares the development and growth of several different towns. By studying and comparing the development of different towns it is possible to understand why certain towns developed in different ways than others did, why particular towns survived and prospered while others died, and what are the most important factors of town growth. It is for this purpose that my paper concerns itself with not one but three towns. These towns are Norwich, Bury St. Edmunds and Great Yarmouth. They are all located in a part of Southeastern England which is known as East Anglia. Despite their close proximity they all developed along separate lines and reached varying levels of economic success and political power. The increase in both the number and the size of towns in Europe, and in particular England, was the result of the advancement in technology, agricultural methods, and social institutions which took place during the tenth and eleventh centuries.