40 thoughts on “Urban Geography Blog Post #1 2016

  1. Urban Geography Blog 1
    Medieval Cities
    The first image is of a small rural city that must have been built during a very contentious period. This city has both an inner and outer wall with a multitude of towers and other defensive structures. There is a structure that appears to be a cathedral within the walls along with what appears to be a main palace structure on the right hand side of the image. The city only grew within the walls while the surrounding area is still mostly agricultural in nature. One can only assume that the resources on these surrounding farms could not support a city any larger than what the walls contained. So, while a great number of resources went into the construction of this walled city (more like a village) there must not have been enough of an economic base to support latter expansion after the needs for defense faded away.
    The second image is from within a city where it is obvious that the buildings were added onto as the population grew. All of these buildings have an undercroft with a larger structure added on top of it later. The cantilevers are so massive that most of the upper floors rest on large posts and pillars. Some of the structures seem to have been added onto a second and possibly a third time letting the observer know that prosperity could have been a multigenerational event. One clue to deciding whether the building was built as is or enlarged later is a change in style, trim, and structure type. The streets are very narrow which would imply that this had always been a foot traffic area and most likely had been the homes of craftsmen or lower level officials who plied there trade within the city walls.
    The third image (moving clockwise) is a number of houses drawn in profile. The two houses with an external staircase seem to represent two entirely different spaces. It might be that the lower floor was a shop of some kind and that the upper floor was the residence. Another way to look at it was that the upper floor was one residence and that the lower floor was a rental or some other form of second residence. If this structure was a multi-story home then one has to ask why the stairs are outside. If the owner became wealthy enough to add a larger addition on top of an existing structure, then they should have been able to incorporate a stairwell or ladder inside of the structure.
    Images 4 and 5 are both paintings of very elaborate walled cities that seemed to have defense as a leading focus of the design. The fourth has an inner and outer wall lined with towers and it might actually have two cathedrals or some other religious structures. The main palace or castle is built on top of the hill contained within the wall, which would lead you to believe that they wanted to be able to see all approaches. A second feature to notice in this painting is that large houses built along the road at the second gate. This may have started as an inn or tavern for travelers but now appears to becoming a small extension of the main village inside the walls. There are still the necessary farmlands further out but it could be that some form of trade or craft skill is driving the economy to the point that it is breaching the city walls.
    The last image is a walled city built by the sea. The extensive fortifications cover the entire visible island so you have to assume that the inhabitants are worried about attack from any side. There does appear to be some farmland in the upper right hand corner so we should make the assumption that some of the supplies necessary to support this large city are coming from the hinterland. On the other hand, the sea is important enough that the harbor is defended with a wall and tower system. Furthermore, there are three ships within the harbor, one of which still has its sails out implying that sea based trade is a constant part of life in this city. What seems to be absent in this city is a central church or cathedral. There is one structure in the center of the image that might be a church but it is not very elaborate. Is this a city that did not have religion as a defining guide?

    • The last city is post-reformation, so yes…ostentatious religion was less important. As for the structure…the typical mid to late medieval structure was a shop/workshop downstairs and a residence upstairs, hence the outside stairway…

  2. After the fall of the Roman Empire many of the former Roman cities in Europe fell into disrepair. The network of roads that connected urban establishments became dangerous (a) due to the lack of protection and (b) discontinued maintenance previously provided by Roman legions , who were employed to care, maintain and expand the said network.
    It became unsafe to travel between cities and trade and commerce declined. Feudalism created small urban centers that were protected by an authoritative figure, be it a Lord or an ecclesiastical figure. In some cases alliances were formed between these urban centers to promote trade, protection and social interaction. As disputes emerged between authoritative figures, it became obvious that physical protective measures were needed to ensure the survival of the small cities and its goods. Walled medieval towns began to emerge. These cities became a safe haven for those who felt the need to protect themselves from the dangers that were common all across Europe at the time.

    Walled Cities were modeled most of the time in the same fashion with (1) a central hub (a religious or governmental building which housed the authoritarian figure in charge), (2) a main road or roads leading to one or many of the protected gates located at the walls, facilitating entry or exit from said city, (3) winding smalls streets that connected the various neighborhoods, and of course (4) a wall or a series of walls that encircled the whole city. Depending on the location some of these features were altered to accommodate the needs of the city and in other instances other features added as well (moats, ports, bridges, etc…).
    As shown in three of the pictures, these walled cities were built in strategic places either close to waterways (rivers, lakes, oceans/seas) to facilitate trade and communication, or in topographic features that ensure military advantage for protection (hills, cliffs, mountains), or in places near a source of raw material needed to ensure the continuity of the city (forests, fertile plains).
    Some of the characteristics of medieval cities were (a) lack of proper sanitation and sewer systems, which facilitated the rapid spread of diseases such as the black plague, (b) very close proximity of buildings, which facilitate extensive damage by fire or natural disasters, (c) limited space available to expand outwards, which created the need for upward expansion and the construction of taller structures aggravated the before mentioned proximity issue, (d) confusing network of small winding streets, (e) lack of running water and indoor plumbing within the structures —wells and fountains were located at strategic points around the city to provide water to the inhabitants—, (f) some structures housed livestock in the lower levels which provided services needed to those within the city but added to the unsanitary practices already creating health issues within the city walls, others (g) housed shops and taverns.

    Amazingly enough, many of these cities have survived to this day and retain the same charm and intriguing layout as five hundred years ago, which seems to be a testament to the resilient spirit of those who once inhabited them. The great walls that surround them stand still, silently, against the forces of time. They continue to be as impressive as they were when first built.

  3. The Medieval City
    The image on the upper left showcases the inner and outer wall system of a medieval city. The primary function of the medieval city was to protect the inhabitants from outside threat. The threat of invasion was indicative of the localism that followed the fall of the Roman Empire. A city located in Western Europe under the control of the Roman Empire did not have to worry about fortification or protection on a local level because the entirety of the empire was protected and maintained through a vast network of administrative control that included military and roads. Additionally, this image reveals the approximate size of a medieval city: one square mile, as you can see open, green land on 3 sides of the image, directly outside of the confines of the wall. This indicates the return to subsistence farming during this period.
    The second image on the left reveals many of the same attributes of a medieval city as the top image. However, this image also notes the importance of trade to the medieval city. While there were not enough agricultural surpluses for many people to reside within the confines of the city proper, trade was an important activity that was housed within the city. An important role of the city during this period was to provide services to the people who lived around the city.
    The last image, again, shows the walled medieval city with open green space surrounding the exterior. This city was built upon a hill with the most important building being in the center of the city and at the top of the hill: the cathedral. The primary function of a medieval city was religious. This was the seat of a bishop in the Catholic hierarchy. This speaks to the overall political and social structure of the time: a hierarchical system that was divided into local nodes (such as cities). Religion was used as the primary coercion technique to recruit peasants to participate in territorial disputes such as the crusades. The political structure of feudalism made the control of only people within the same locality possible.
    The images on the right speak to the public space of the medieval city- the street. Individual structures rising three to four stories squish together to make a conglomerate street edge. The closeness of structures is primarily due to the confines of the one square mile configuration of the city. Additionally, compactness and height were required in the urban form because the confines of the city wall set growth limits on cities. Many did not want to take on the cost to rebuild their protective boundaries, except for examples like Paris.
    Buildings like the ones shown in the lower image likely consisted of a storefront/ shop on the bottom floor and living quarters directly above. The open space of buildings in the image on the upper right show that they were meant to be accessed from the street, while contrastingly, the residences located above were much more sheltered in order to provide privacy to the living quarters. This work-life make up was indicative of the economic conditions of Western Europe at this time, where work was localized and non-cooperate. The structure of work life changed from this situation to one of tenements and large scale housing in post-medieval cities with the rise of capital, factories, and large masses of workers residing within the city.

    -Kera Lathan

  4. The Medieval City
    The image on the upper left showcases the inner and outer wall system of a medieval city. The primary function of the medieval city was to protect the inhabitants from outside threat. The threat of invasion was indicative of the localism that followed the fall of the Roman Empire. A city located in Western Europe under the control of the Roman Empire did not have to worry about fortification or protection on a local level because the entirety of the empire was protected and maintained through a vast network of administrative control that included military and roads. Additionally, this image reveals the approximate size of a medieval city: one square mile, as you can see open, green land on 3 sides of the image, directly outside of the confines of the wall. This indicates the return to subsistence farming during this period.
    The second image on the left reveals many of the same attributes of a medieval city as the top image. However, this image also notes the importance of trade to the medieval city. While there were not enough agricultural surpluses for many people to reside within the confines of the city proper, trade was an important activity that was housed within the city. An important role of the city during this period was to provide services to the people who lived around the city.
    The last image, again, shows the walled medieval city with open green space surrounding the exterior. This city was built upon a hill with the most important building being in the center of the city and at the top of the hill: the cathedral. The primary function of a medieval city was religious. This was the seat of a bishop in the Catholic hierarchy. This speaks to the overall political and social structure of the time: a hierarchical system that was divided into local nodes (such as cities). Religion was used as the primary coercion technique to recruit peasants to participate in territorial disputes such as the crusades. The political structure of feudalism made the control of only people within the same locality possible.
    The images on the right speak to the public space of the medieval city- the street. Individual structures rising three to four stories squish together to make a conglomerate street edge. The closeness of structures is primarily due to the confines of the one square mile configuration of the city. Additionally, compactness and height were required in the urban form because the confines of the city wall set growth limits on cities. Many did not want to take on the cost to rebuild their protective boundaries, except for examples like Paris.
    Buildings like the ones shown in the lower image likely consisted of a storefront/ shop on the bottom floor and living quarters directly above. The open space of buildings in the image on the upper right show that they were meant to be accessed from the street, while contrastingly, the residences located above were much more sheltered in order to provide privacy to the living quarters. This work-life make up was indicative of the economic conditions of Western Europe at this time, where work was localized and non-cooperate. The structure of work life changed from this situation to one of tenements and large scale housing in post-medieval cities with the rise of capital, factories, and large masses of workers residing within the city.
    -Kera Lathan

  5. Compared to the cities we see today, medieval cities were quite small. The streets were unpaved or cobblestoned, and a wall, increasing the separation between urban and rural, surrounded them. The wall, like the one in the upper left corner, was used strictly for defense. The fortification was used to protect the people and the city itself, while also showing a sign of superiority and power. These walls were built near a waterway (lakes, river, ocean) to help with communication and trade, or were near a raw material that helped the city like a forest, or fertile land. Generally, there was a main gate to enter the city, but once inside, space was hard to come by. Shown in the two pictures on the right, houses were tiny and clustered closely together in order to build more of them. Usually made of wood, these houses were in constant threat of fire, and the living quarters were mainly on the upper floors, with the shops or taverns on the main floor. The upper levels were projected out over the first, creating a tunnel like feel on the streets.

    One main problem seen in medieval cities across the world was a lack of sewer systems and sanitation. Chamber pots were emptied into the streets, which presented a huge problem when the streets were made of mud or stone, and any sort or rain or water made the problems much worse. But not only did it create a physical mess, it also created a health problem that was hard to stop. Polluted water led to diseases such as the plague, and due to the lack of clean water, the most commonly consumed beverage was wine and beer leading to a number of problems itself.

    Like many cities across the world, the people who operated or took charge of the medieval cities were those who had money. The government and authoritarian figure had their own, protected, building within the city walls, and the rest of the city grew around it (and the church, of course). The city was self-governing, with their own court and procedures and often had legislative powers. With a huge focus on loyalty, the medieval townspeople stuck together in order to maintain their city order and security. The people of these towns had a wholehearted affection for their town and its welfare, with much pride. Closely tied to these cities was also their church and religion. Every medieval city had a church, usually centrally located, close to the authoritarians housing.

    Many of these medieval cities are still in tact today and retain the same beauty they had many years ago. The structures of their walls are still standing, and they continue to impress the cities of today. The medieval city was a design of strength and power that put the safety of their people first. The winding city roads, great walls that surround them, and unique housing styles, make this city type recognizable across the globe. How cool is it that a city structure, once made to be fought at and broken down, is still standing today and bringing about the same glory as it did 500 years ago?

  6. The Medieval City

    The image on the upper left showcases the inner and outer wall system of a medieval city. The primary function of the medieval city was to protect the inhabitants from outside threat. The threat of invasion was indicative of the localism that followed the fall of the Roman Empire. A city located in Western Europe under the control of the Roman Empire did not have to worry about fortification or protection on a local level because the entirety of the empire was protected and maintained through a vast network of administrative control that included military and roads. Additionally, this image reveals the approximate size of a medieval city: one square mile, as you can see open, green land on 3 sides of the image, directly outside of the confines of the wall. This indicates the return to subsistence farming during this period.

    The second image on the left reveals many of the same attributes of a medieval city as the top image. However, this image also notes the importance of trade to the medieval city. While there were not enough agricultural surpluses for many people to reside within the confines of the city proper, trade was an important activity that was housed within the city. An important role of the city during this period was to provide services to the people who lived around the city.
    The last image, again, shows the walled medieval city with open green space surrounding the exterior. This city was built upon a hill with the most important building being in the center of the city and at the top of the hill: the cathedral. The primary function of a medieval city was religious. This was the seat of a bishop in the Catholic hierarchy. This speaks to the overall political and social structure of the time: a hierarchical system that was divided into local nodes (such as cities). Religion was used as the primary coercion technique to recruit peasants to participate in territorial disputes such as the crusades. The political structure of feudalism made the control of only people within the same locality possible.

    The images on the right speak to the public space of the medieval city- the street. Individual structures rising three to four stories squish together to make a conglomerate street edge. The closeness of structures is primarily due to the confines of the one square mile configuration of the city. Additionally, compactness and height were required in the urban form because the confines of the city wall set growth limits on cities. Many did not want to take on the cost to rebuild their protective boundaries, except for examples like Paris.

    Buildings like the ones shown in the lower image likely consisted of a storefront/ shop on the bottom floor and living quarters directly above. The open space of buildings in the image on the upper right show that they were meant to be accessed from the street, while contrastingly, the residences located above were much more sheltered in order to provide privacy to the living quarters. This work-life make up was indicative of the economic conditions of Western Europe at this time, where work was localized and non-cooperate. The structure of work life changed from this situation to one of tenements and large scale housing in post-medieval cities with the rise of capital, factories, and large masses of workers residing within the city.

    -Kera Lathan

  7. The typical medieval city was built with the idea of being mostly self sustainable. These cities were usually built next to water ways seeing as most trade was done by boat during this time. They were also built in close proximity to natural resources or militarily strategic vantage points such as moats, mountains, bluffs, and water.
    The function of these cities was to provide protection to those within the walls as well as provide religious, administrative, and economic services. They usually revolved around Feudalism that was fueled by a hierarchy system of kings, lords, and dukes all of which served with a divine right. This meant that religion played a very key role in the society of the medieval ages. This is shown in the placement and grandeur of the cathedrals at the time. As well as the importance placed upon the bishop that resided within the city. This is also going to be the reasoning behind most wars that will be waged at this time, thus spawning the need for having a walled city.
    These communities would use subsistence farming to supply their agriculture needs. The farming would usually take place outside the city walls. As you can see in the images provided the cities were crowded leaving no room for loads of farms to be producing within the city walls. The cities on average spanned one square mile, meaning they had to be built upwards instead of outwards to account for population expansion. Unless they could afford to expand the city walls, which could be an extremely expensive undertaking. The buildings that occupied the city were mostly bottom floor shops with residence living above them. This allowed the craftsmen, tradesmen, and merchants to conduct business with those passing by on the streets.
    However due to the layout of these cities it was often very hazardous to live within the walls. The threat of house fires was constant since the main construction material used was wood. The compactness of the city meant a fire could easily spread through the whole city with no hopes of being stopped. The tight living quarters also meant that disease was very easily spread and was a main cause of death and high infant mortality rate within the city. Water sources were also a hazard to the citizens living within the city walls. Often times there would be communal wells used for gathering water spread out within the city. This was unfortunate due to the filthy condition of the cities and lack of an ability to deal with sanitation. So it was often the case that the water fetched at the wells was host to loads of bacteria and disease making it virtually unsafe for human consumption. Some medieval cities would try to solve this issue by creating a water source that was not within the walls thus making it more sanitary. This is a double edged sword however. If your city came under siege all one would have to do is simply cutoff your water source and wait until your citizens started dying of dehydration or starvation.

    -Jonathan Bartlett

  8. In the three images on the left, the cities assume a similar form in that they are all encircled by a defensive wall and all have a dense network of buildings.
    In the image on the top left, it is somewhat difficult to determine the network of the streets, so I am left to assume that the city grew in a radio-concentric pattern from the ‘center’, which appears to have been the elaborate structure in top middle of the picture – either a church/cathedral of some sort, or even a small castle.
    There seem to be few green spaces within the walls – indicative of the notion that the city was relatively well populated, an indicator of wealth and possibly successful trade. This perhaps would explain the double walled enclosure and the myriad defensive towers. The market place could have been housed in any of these open areas.
    The city itself however, sits on a lush landscape suggesting that its function might have been that of a farm town of sorts which had to look to crop cultivation outside the walls as the population grew.
    The middle image on the left has a vastly different topographical makeup – it practically sits on the water and it also occupies a somewhat hilly terrain. The proximity to water and the and the noticeable port structure, as well as the massive gate giving entry to the city from the port, suggest that the function of this city was that of a merchant or trade town. It was therefore very likely that its supplies were coming from elsewhere and its marketplace (s) could have been the open areas in the top or lower left of the city.
    There is practically no evidence of green space within the fortified walls, and the main street gives the city a strong axial emphasis – as well minor streets with parallel or opposing axes – thereby suggesting that there was some sort of formal planning (purpose built) and that the city did not develop spontaneously.
    That the main street and defensive walls are depicted as stretching into the distance suggests that the city was extensive and that perhaps the ‘center’ lay beyond what is depicted in the image as it is somewhat difficult to determine whether the buildings off to the top right were a castle of sorts.
    The image in the lower left is an extremely dense, double walled organization of towers and other buildings which sits on a hilly terrain with a large structure in a position of primacy – at the apex of the topography. One could therefore assume that due to its elevated position, the structure was for nobility, and that the other elaborate building which is off to the left at a slightly lower elevation, was for religion.
    The density of occupation suggest that it was successful, as population growth is inextricably linked to a city’s wealth.
    Even though there are two gates, the primary one appears to be that on the right as the street creates a strong axial linkage between the point of entry and the ‘palace’. The secondary gate, appears to be for the citizens as a means of accessing the surrounding lands in which the city is set.
    The surrounding landscaped, coupled with the fortified main gate would suggest that the city both survived on what it was able to produce as well as trade – with the building in the lower right just outside the main gate acting as some type of filter.
    The picture and the sketches of the houses, on the top and lower right respectively, typify the form of medieval houses – they emphasized verticality as a means of enabling cities to occupy as much space as possible while accommodating their growing population. They hemmed one of the few public spaces in a densely populated city – the street.
    They are several stories high because the ground floor was primarily reserved for commerce and the upper floors for personal living spaces. That they are set back from the street on the ‘commercial’ floor was a means of giving access to whatever goods and services people were providing.

    -TNS

  9. The Medieval City

    The top left picture shows a heavily fortified city which illustrates a few very important features of the quintessential medieval city. The first apparent and very obvious features in the photograph are the very imposing walls which underscore their importance in the medieval city. Walls were very important to the medieval city because they offered the ability to accumulate wealth and surplus and protection from raiders and common people. From the photo their significance is clear, with two sets of walls lined with many towers and turrets. The need for medieval cities to be walled and fortified also meant they were limited to a relatively small size and compact layout, which is the second evident feature. The third obvious feature is the large cathedral in the top middle of the photograph. The cathedral or church provided services for common people as well as serving as a tool to legitimize crusades.
    The photo on the top right exemplifies the building style and materials used for housing the common people in the medieval city. Due to the city’s size constraints families were stacked together into multilevel tightly packed buildings to maximize space, often with one large family occupying a single room. The photo also shows the most common housing building material used in the medieval city, wood. A narrow stone cobbled street is also visible in the picture which was very important for the cities trade, transport, and also made marginal firefighting possible, which was important because the high concentration of people and extremely close wooden quarters made fires a serious threat.
    The middle left painting depicts a large, but very compact, walled off city fortress on the coast, along with a small harbor for boats. The positioning of large cities on the coast or rivers was a very important future of some medieval cities. Water transport for the shipping and trading of goods and surplus was very important for the medieval city for a number of reasons. First being that land transport was limited to horse a buggy’s, which were unable to efficiently move high volume low value important goods. The second reason why ship travel was so important was due to poor overland road conditions. Roads were often nearly impassible and exceptionally easy targets for bandits and thieves.
    The bottom left painting depicts all the quintessential elements of the medieval city we have already discussed, but the most evident being the importance of the church. In the depiction the skyline is dotted with numerous cathedral towers and spires. The tall towers of the medieval church do not serve any immediate purpose except to give the impression of being closer to god and to impress onlookers. There are so many because the church was an integral part of resident’s life in the medieval city. And even though the city appears to have too many churches for a relatively small area, people were often limited to foot travel so having a church within walking distance was very important.
    The bottom right drawing is a depiction of an average multilevel dwelling in the medieval city. This building would have served to probably house multiple families within walking distances from their perspectives occupations and roles. The building would have had no sewer system, just most likely a pit style toilet. The building does however have windows which would greatly aid the air circulation and cooling ability.

    -Max Hollingsehad

    • Nice discussion, in the case of the last image, the building would probably have had a store/workshop on the bottom and the owner’s residence above…hence the outside stairway.

  10. Urban Geography Blog 1

    The city shown in the upper left photograph is a typical medieval city. It has multiple defensive outer and inner walls, along with a dense city inside of the walls. The surrounding area outside of the walls looks to still be mostly agricultural as is typical with cities of this era. This surrounding area was where generally around 90% of the area’s population lived, and the top 10% of people were able to live inside the protected walls of the city and be supported by the surrounding people.

    The photograph at the top right is from within a small European medieval city. The buildings in this photograph look to be basically all attached to one another and appear to have been added onto vertically as the population of the city continued to grow over the years. Looking at it today, it’s obvious that the city is laid out in such a way that modern cars and other forms of transport are not really feasible. Today, the area shown in this photograph is most likely traversed on foot and on bicycle.

    The center left photograph is a painting of a city which is heavily fortified. The city is walled much like the top left photograph, but it also appears to be surrounded by water on multiple sides. This city would have been incredibly hard to take by invading armies and would have been an ideal short term defensive position. I state short term specifically because there doesn’t appear to be a significant amount of farmland or other resources nearby, and if that water surrounding it is sea water rather than fresh drinkable water, they could run out of supplies in a very short amount of time. This painting most likely depicts a rich trade port city designed to have a constant flow of supplies brought in, and heavily fortified against attackers trying to get their wealth.

    The bottom right image is a series of drawings depicting types of small and compact houses used in building medieval cities. They are somewhat similar to the buildings shown in the upper right photograph. Some of the buildings shown in these drawings would have not just been houses, but they would have also been stores for shopping and selling things such as clothing or food.

    The bottom left image is another painting much like the center left image. This image depicts another common medieval city layout much like the top left and center left images. This image differs from the top left image in two ways. The first way in which this city is different, is that it does not have two defensive walls. This most likely means that it was not under as much threat as the top left image. The second way it differs is that it is a significantly larger city and it appears to be located on a very large hill. Due to these two differences, I think it is possible that this city is most likely a capital of a much larger state/empire than the top left image. This city also has what appear to be numerous churches inside of its walls. During the medieval time period, churches were very common in cities because religion played a very significant role in people’s lives. People during this time were largely illiterate, so they used churches to spread, support, and learn their religion rather than reading their holy texts for themselves.

  11. The Medieval City was a very dense and religion based city that was usually only about one square mile. A city would only be erected if it were known as a seat of a bishop, and would then be built centered around the Catholic Church. Also in the center, there was usually a town hall or open square area for socialization. The three images on the left depict the fortification of these cities. Conflict between the English and French arose because of intermarriage between the two groups and because of religious crusades. This, along with threats from the Vikings, caused the need for a defense wall or surrounding water to keep the Vikings and other groups from ransacking their communities. Along with the outer wall for protection, there was an inner wall. The poor lived in between the inner and outer wall.
    During the Dark Ages, there was a period of feudalism. So, these small cities that were locally controlled needed walls to protect from other small cities who may or may not want to attack. Water not only protected these cities, but was also used for trade purposes. Lots of trade was happening in and around. They also had farm fields on the outskirts. Both being a key to their survival.
    The cities were organic and unplanned, but contained a semi-logical system of windy, and narrow streets within their small community. These cities strived to be self-sustaining, which was made possible by their advances in administrative and economic functions. These include their strong trade networks, farm fields, and tax collection.
    The buildings themselves functioned as churches, monasteries, houses, and local businesses. As seen in the two images on the right, the housing grew vertically because of the exterior city wall limitations on horizontal expansion. There were commonly small residences, with unsanitary living conditions, on upper floors and shops on the ground level. In purely residential areas, the houses were tall, skinny, and packed tightly on either sides of narrow streets. Again, accommodating for the lack of space within the walls. This created an enormous fire hazard, and made the city streets a place people did not want to be.
    Later into the High Middle Ages, population began to grow even more and various innovations allowed trade to expand, making these cities even more dense and busy. Eventually, intellectual advances were made and universities began popping up, and great buildings such as Gothic cathedrals were created.
    Overall, I feel as though these images depict the Medieval City pleasantly, when in reality the life created here wasn’t this swell, especially around the time of the Black Death. People lived an unsanitary and inhumane lifestyle. There was disease, lack of water, and overcrowding.

  12. Medieval cities started as very small towns. Their initial size was usually one square mile. These cities started to become urbanized due to the movement of people from rural areas. The main reason of this migration to these cities was considered to be religious, especially in Britain. That is the reason why the main function of these cities where considered to be religious. Initially, these cities were so small that they were not able to accommodate the volume of people that migrated to these areas. The picture that says houses ideas, represent the space constrains that these cities possessed back then. Also, this picture represents the maximization of the reduced space that they had to be able to accommodate people in houses. In this picture we can see two separate houses-one house on top of the other, the house on the top can be accessed through a stair located in the outside of both houses, each one having its independent entrance.
    The image on the top right corner is also proof of the very restrained place these cities were built in. The pictures shows building-complexes extreme close to one another and very small roads. As we can see in the picture many of these buildings were made out of wood, what lend itself for the creation of fire that in many of the cases would kill a high number of people.
    These cities were considered to be very powerful. I can attribute that power to the location they were built in. For example, in the picture that is located in the middle on the left, it can be seen a medieval city built on hinterland space. The access to resources and trade was considered to be less complex through the use of these hinterlands. As medieval centers were areas with a growing population and in most of the cases if not the most populated, they required services that many of the times were offered by outsiders, people that came from other places to offer their services. The more trade, fair markets, and selling of products that took place in these medieval centers, the better for the development of that area in terms of economic growth, since these transactions allowed for the collection of taxes in higher quantities. This transactions made medieval places become more and more powerful. Another factor that shows the power that was concentrated in these medieval cities is the creation of walls that in most of the cases were built to protect the city from outsiders that came from rural areas and by the attack of ships that could access the cities through the hinterland. In order to build these immense walls a lot of financial resources were required, which proved how wealthy people in these cities were.
    The excess of migration to medieval cities originated problems like sanitation associated with over crowdedness. These cities did not have a proper sewage system that could process all the waste water produced by the city. Many of the times these cities did not have a sewage system, which lead people to place their wastewater in exposed gutters on the streets. These contaminated water would end up in rivers or any other source of fresh water used by the community. This water was used for human consumption which caused a lot of diseases among the population. The overpopulation of these cities served for the propagation and containment of diseases such as smallpox and the Black Death. For several decades these cities maintained a very low life expectancy as a result of these problems.

  13. These images reveal several important aspects of the medieval city. The images on the left all show aerial views of medieval cities, which allows us to see their small physical footprint compared to many modern cities. Cities in the medieval era could not be much larger than about one square mile, because there was no method of transport within the city besides walking. If cities had been much larger, the people in the city could not have easily accessed the different parts of the city that they needed to every day.

    The city overview images also show one of the important services that medieval cities could provide for the surrounding rural areas – protection. The city in the top left image (Carcassonne?) has a double wall for protection, the city in the middle left image has a wall and is surrounded on multiple sides by water, and the city in the bottom left image has a wall and also appears to be surrounded by a moat. This focus on defense reflects the shift toward feudalism and localism in Europe after the fall of Rome. The protection of Rome no longer covered the continent, and power shifted to the local level. Those with power did not want to risk losing it through an invasion, so they made sure their cities were heavily fortified against outside invaders.

    Another important medieval city function that is shown in the images on the left is religion. This was a new city function for European cities, as under the Roman Empire, cities were primarily administrative, not religious, centers. All three cities shown on the left prominently feature church buildings. During the medieval period, cities became centers of religion, generally having both a cathedral and a monastery. Cities also often served as the seat of a bishop.

    The images on the right hand side show typical structures within the medieval city. Medieval urban buildings were generally multiple stories, since building many single story buildings would have greatly increased the city’s footprint and required rebuilding the city’s walls repeatedly. Because this would have been prohibitively expensive, multi-story buildings became the norm in urban areas across the European continent. The buildings in the images appear to be three to four stories tall and built of wood and bricks. The wood construction of these buildings posed a major fire hazard for medieval cities; if one building caught fire, it would easily spread to nearby buildings, which were often directly next to each other with no space in between, as in the top right image.

    The fire hazard posed by wooden structures is only one part of what made medieval cities quite dangerous. Nearly all medieval cities had to deal with the problem of disease, as evidenced by the Black Death. The Black Death showed how terribly effective rats and fleas could be as vectors of disease within the medieval city. Water could also serve as a potent vector of disease in medieval cities if the water supply was not relatively sanitary.

  14. Medieval European cities have a distinct, and often functional, form. One of the functions was religious, but the true function was power, since religion was the primary means by which the power of the monarch was maintained. Feudalism was the economic system of the time. In feudalism, the lords were subjugated by the monarch and, as a collective, had the majority of the military power in a given region. There were many relatively independent agents which, although were subject to the monarch in theory, sometimes got ambitious. So there was a great need to protect medieval cities, hence the walls which were constructed around them.

    Walls were a common theme in medieval cities, as you can see in the photos on the left of the collage. In fact the city on the top left has two walls. This city might have been particularly important. Was it a huge trading center with a lot of wealth to protect? Did it house the king or the bishop? All of these possibilities would explain the need for a layered barrier around a city. Any city with a wall, if attacked, would be subjected to siege warfare. Even with siege warfare, it is difficult to breach thick stone walls. So adding a second one allows the military force to have that much more time to make it rain; with arrows, hot oil, and rocks not with Franklins.

    The bottom left photo really highlights the centrality of religion in medieval cities. You can see, what appears to be, the cathedral right next to the hill on which the castle is built. This also highlights the relationship between the clergy and the throne. Also in the bottom left photo you can see that the harbor has a wall almost completely surrounding it. This protected the lord/monarch’s harbor and ships from navel based sieges. But it also had a distinct disadvantage. The small opening could easily be blocked so that the bringing of food into the city by ship became problematic at best.
    You can see, in the photos on the right hand side, the residences, taverns, and restaurants are built upward. When a monarch, or lord, first establishes a city they still need to protect it with a wall. But cities grow. No one wants to live, eat, or work outside the walls so there was limited land area on which to build. Also, cars hadn’t been invented and most people couldn’t afford a horse, much less a horse drawn carriage, so people had to live close together. The solution was obvious. They had to build upward.

    This probably improved certain technologies, because you needed your tall structures to be strong for as long a time as possible. This also must have affected their culture, the closer people lived the closer people became. Density led to things like tea time, cooperation, and occasionally popular revolution. But this also led to disease; the bubonic plague and cholera for example. The streets, as you can see, are narrow. This was because they were designed foot traffic, mostly.

    Andrew Lawrence

  15. The Medieval City

    After the first fall of the great Roman Empire Europe lost many Roman technological advancements including the infrastructure set across the former empire. Rome built extensive roads to help their vast trade network but as they fell less funding went into keeping up with the roadways and they soon disappeared leaving an unconnected Europe with fragmented territories. After Rome fell the cities they left behind were unsafe due to barbarians, robbers, and warlords which caused people to revert back to country life. After a while new communities formed for trade or protection and these became feudalistic tiny kingdoms that were rural, fed from subsistence farming, and were only as big as could be maintained. These small, rural societies built walls and towers to fortify their cities which we see in three of the blog pictures posted. Medieval cities frequently were built without a true city form and just grew unplanned. Often times these territories were built along water ways to be used a source for drinking, cleaning, and moats used for defense, shipping, and occasionally its sewer system. War in this time was frequent between the territories due to the new found religious function of the city as opposed to Rome’s administrative function; therefore, the walls became a source of protection from outsiders and the ongoing wars like the Crusades. Because these cities were surrounded by walls and could only be big enough for walking transportation, houses and building had to be built upward. Buildings would be built two to three stories high, made of wood and brick, and connected to one another. This led to huge dangers for the citizens that lived there including fires which were common, diseases from animals like rats, fleas, and the horrendous environment, and dirty water or issues with getting water supplied to people. Previous Roman sanitation infrastructure was long gone and the cities were gross and filled with feces and animal remains. Child mortality rates were high but eventually an immunity was built up in the cities. However, the terrible condition of life here eventually led to the infectious spread of the Black Death that killed millions. When a story was added to a building it often protruded out further than the floor below so the highest floor would be furthest outward into the street. This protruding of the buildings would sometimes meet over the street and form tunnel like passages above the roads. As population grew the cities became crowded because they could not build outward which caused overcrowding. City streets were narrow and only big enough for daily traffic of people and animals. Generally the kingdoms consisted of the king in charge and his lords next in line but above the king was God. The church was the most important building and often the gathering place or in some cases the city center. After a couple centuries of bad hygiene, horrible lifestyle, and crowded cities Europe eventually came out of the dark ages and entered the Renaissance period of enlightenment and technological advancements to led them back into the future.

  16. The medieval city structure was a reformation to a feudal society as opposed to the great sprawling empires of the Romans and Greeks. These walled societies were predominantly self-sustaining and many of the inhabitants would be born there, live there and eventually die there without ever venturing more than a few dozen miles away. The walls themselves served two purposes. The first being for defense of the city. The high rising stone walls were the chief defense against the neighboring communities who, at the time would attack in attempts to grow their kingdoms by even a few acres. This high op tempo of constant strife facilitated the need for the defenses. The second more subtly reason for the walls was to discourage the immigration of the subjects to other kingdoms and to maintain the population. Traveling to and from other areas was not common and there was little to no transportation routes between them. The lack of security among the routes and outside the walls acted as a deterrent to any would be travelers. Inside of the walls there would be a main thoroughfare from the gates to the royal dwelling which, as picture in the middle row, was the largest and grandest building in the city. This main passage was lined with the shops and other trade related structures much like a main street in modern cities. It was also the widest of the city streets to allow for easy movement of troops and livestock to the main common area of the town nearest to the castle. The main road would have tentacle like smaller paths stemming off it throughout the rest of the foot print of the city. These smaller roads or paths were mainly for foot traffic as they were very narrow in comparison to the main road and were lined and in place covered by dual purpose structures as pictured in the right column of pictures. These buildings had shops or businesses on the ground floor and living areas above. The interior of the cities were very densely populated with these dual purpose structures as most people lived inside the walls and would go out to complete their work and retire to the security of the compounds at night. This compact style of settlement also didn’t account for much green space. The pastures and farm land surrounded the city on the outside of the walls, or as in the left column 1st and 2nd pictures, just with in the walls. The dense population concentration of the interior could be compared to the more modern inner city tenements of postindustrial cities like London and New York. The lack of sanitation and the close proximity of living contributed greatly to the spread of diseases and outbreaks like the plague. This tight bundle of living not only detracted from the interconnectivity of society at the time but also facilitated some of the worst death causing outbreaks in history.

  17. Cities during the Medieval Period were developed as places to be protected. The person of power in that region had to protect their wealth from the surrounding wealthy class. There were no large government bodies so this wealthy class ran most of Europe during this time. They built cities to protect themselves. They were strategically built in places like on islands between rivers up on hill tops as showcased in the bottom left two images. They used these natural borders to keep invaders out and give them an edge if a battle was to ever occur. Other ways these cities were protected is that they became fortified with inside and outside walls. The city could protect itself from attack during these dangerous times as shown in the top left image. However, as the city grew, these walls would have to be torn down and moved to the new perimeter so the new citizens could be protected. Sometimes the rulers of the city would have the wall moved so that the people living just outside the walls would pay taxes towards his wealth.
    The inner parts of the city could sometimes be gridded—the only prominent example of this is Paris, France. These cities predominantly grew very organically around the city’s core which was usually delineated by a large church and courtyard. The roads of these cities created a tangled web throughout the city as its population grew and expanded into its edges. This infrastructure can be seen in the top left image—the buildings are not built in perfect lines on planned roads; they are turned every way as they follow the road that they’re on. These roads were rarely paved, unlike the upper right picture which is likely from a more modern time when paving was necessary on heavily used roads. The roads were not the ideal place to be during the medieval period as they were extremely dirty with sewage, mud, and the like. Cities would build in raised crosswalks that were still functional to the wagons that would ride through the town.
    These cities were controlled entirely by religion, so much so that a city wasn’t counted unless it was the seat of a bishop. The church was the main social center of these cities. The courtyard in front of the churches was used as market places, a gathering space, and obviously a religious center. The streets were narrow and the multistory buildings were crammed together along them. These buildings were multi-use meaning they would have shops on the bottom level, and they would have small apartments on the upper levels—as displayed in the bottom right image. This allowed for a vibrant, well used town center. Although living in these high densities and below average health conditions had its disadvantages. Disease was spread rapidly and widely across these tightly packed cities. This did however eventually steady the population, create a population that had greater immune systems, and make labor worth more—making for a better economy overall.

  18. The Medieval City

    The medieval city came about as a way for farmers to trade their goods. There was mainly rural land with small hubs of control with these fortified cities. The medieval city was fundamentally religious whose function was to provide services to the rural community around it These cities weren’t too large, ideally around 1 square mile and around a water source. Their main functions were religious (with cathedrals as a place to worship), administrative (with taxes going to the regional governors), and economic (to trade goods with the local rural community). These cities would have a fixed outer wall and all the development on the interior would have to build up rather than out because you couldn’t expand the wall outwards, wherever it was built was the limit of the city. Fire and disease were huge problems because of how compact the cities were. This would result in a younger population and a high infant mortality rate. During this time we saw the emergence of the leisure class, as wealthy families now were able to afford luxuries.
    The top left picture shows the typical boundary of a medieval city. It shows the double wall system where the interior wall limits the outward growth of the city and a second wall to act as a boundary of the city as a whole. The space between allowed soldiers to patrol, guard, etc. This also shows the many watchtowers that would litter city walls as a way to search and lookout on the surrounding landscape.
    The middle left picture is another example of the typical medieval city, though this one is located on a waterway. It shows a harbor for ships to enter to unload and load good to be traded in the city and in other cities. It also shows a strong central corridor cutting through the city. Traders and services would be located along this avenue with the cathedral or governors house located at the head of the street. Again we can see many lookout towers located on the exterior wall.
    The bottom left picture is another example of a medieval city. This city looks to have drawbridges as the only ways into the city, which can be drawn up if they need to defend the city. There also seems to be a small moat surrounding the city, which doesn’t allow attackers to be right up against the wall when the drawbridge is up. You can also see that the highest point of the city seems to be the cathedral, which shows how religious these cities were oriented.
    The top right picture shows a typical street in the medieval city. Along the street front on the ground level would be shops and services with housing on the upper levels. Housing was made out of wood, as that was the primary building material then, as there was always an abundance of trees. This wood construction limited their upward growth and they could only build up to 3 or 4 stories.
    The bottom right picture are examples of typical housing design for the medieval city. These houses had to be skinny in order to fit as many units into the city as possible. The material would be wood and typically house a single family.

  19. Three of the pictures shown above shows walls built around the city. Walls were an important feature of medieval cities and pre-medieval cities. Walls provided a line of defense for the cities that was a bi-product of the forms of weaponry at the time. The weapons of the time were limited to bow and arrow, close quarter weaponry such as swords,axes,maces, spears, and early versions of crossbows. The height of the walls around a city made the bow’s more effective, since ideally you would fire them from a high position. The walls also made the blunt weapons useless in combat. This lead to city siege weapons such as the trebuchet and the cannon being invented. After the fall of the Roman Empire, cities could not depend on having the backing of the Roman army for defensive purposes. This lead to a greater need in fortification, in which the walls provided. For increased protection, walled cities would typically be built along bodies of water. Having the water to one side would create another layer of protection from invasion. Even more so if the country had a strong armada protecting the waterways. While the walls are great at keeping invaders out of the city, subsequently they were good at keeping less the desirable things inside the walls. With the poor sanitation and close proximity of the residents, disease such as the black plague could run rampant throughout the city.

    As a city’s population continued the grow, the walls could become a obstacle. The permanent nature of the wall meant that a city would have only a few options in terms of resident placement. The city could create a new set of walls, with a larger radius to build within, or they could grow the city in a vertical capacity, The pictures on the right show a designs and applications to build on top of existing structures. The bottom of these structures could be preexisting shops, with residences built on top of them. The city would also contain churches, and guild halls.

    The pictures shown depict a pleasant picture of the medieval city, but this was generally not the case. The roads on the inside were poorly constructed and often required stones to walk on to prevent walking in either animal, or human excrement. Also when it would rain, the roads would often be made of dirt or loose gravel. This led to major problems with mud. The city’s population density would be high. This caused claustrophobic streets, and this lead to disease being spread like wildfires. The close proximity of all the building in the town could lead fires becoming major problems. Add in the fact that houses at the time were not the most fireproof, and the lack modern day fire departments could lead to entire sections of a city to burn. As mentioned earlier, sanitation was a major problem. Most people would dump the the chamber pots into the streets. Life expectancy rates inside the city were low compared to the rural areas.

  20. The Medieval City functioned most notably as a city surrounding the seat of a bishopric, but also served to provide services for the citizens within it. One of the major services was protection which, as the first image displays (top left), there are two walls fortifying the city, and in the center, a road. This is a very common form found in medieval cities, as it not only shows the power of the city to protect its citizens, but effectively uses watchtowers for surveillance to ensure the town’s safety. Most Medieval cities were made on only one square mile, and within this, a very dense population to protect.

    The second image down shows a medieval city built seemingly on an island. The waterfront is used as a great method of protection, where double-reinforced walls do not exists. The city wall is complete with watchtowers all along it, and with an area for ships to enter and harbor safely without risk of having their cargo plundered from the outside. This harbor also seems to lead to the main entrance, which directly connects to the main road, allowing visitors and traders to have instant access to the main city strip, where much of the commerce and trading posts are likely to lie.

    The picture below this shows a medieval city built on a small hill. It is very clear to see the religious institution high atop the hill, serving as the most powerful, important, and protected from outside intrusion. The homes are tightly packed to make efficient use of the land area for housing the population, although I would rate this city a very high risk for fire, as much of the construction seems to be of brick and wood, a common material used in medieval cities. There are two entrances, one of which seems to lead to a horse stable, and the other perhaps to an inn or a mill of some sort. This is a very common occurrence to accommodate large trading, courier, and traveling communities.

    The image on the top right shows a very apparent walking path that leads throughout the city. Medieval cities were notably walking cities, and were very well connected, but, as it seems in this photo, the housing density and material is very clear. The homes are stacked for maximum space efficiency, and the material is a clearly flammable wood. And although the homes were built up as population increased, disease also was very common throughout these cities, spread by rats, fleas, water, and other fast traveling elements.

    The final image concludes with an outline of the common medieval house, which is a clearly highly compact, two story (plus a small attic) home with a stairwell that leads to the second floor. Often in medieval homes, the first and second story were not connected from the inside, but rather, from a staircase on the outside that would lead to the second story, and maybe a ladder from the second story to the attic or storage space.

  21. These images show medieval cities after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Romans had an elite military power which had control over most of Europe. Throughout Europe, there are many roads that connect cities to each other and the Roman military would have protection over these roads. Because of the fall of the Roman Empire, these roads were now unsafe and defenseless to travel on. The result of these defenseless roads led to cities throughout Europe to build walls around them. Cities would become pretty much isolated with possible trade to another nearby city. Therefore, they had to use the land around them for agriculture and because there were walls around the cities, they couldn’t grow outward. Instead they had to structure buildings upwards because of growing populations. In these buildings, some would be two to three stories high with residential housing in the upstairs part of the building and shops and markets downstairs in the lower part of the building. So the buildings had to be designed in a vertical way but within the boundaries of the wall, they were set up around a central market or plaza with a church nearby located in the center of the city. The people in the city had a ruler and they were usually the ones seen as or with divine powers and they were also usually the head of the local church. These rulers would live in a palace that would be located near the church or if the city was on a hill, it would be on top overlooking the entire city and area around the city. These cities had walls that were built primarily for protection and defense from outside invaders. Even the church or the palace nearby would have some form of a defense barrier such as a tower to keep watch for approaching enemies. Some cities would have two walls surrounding it. One for the purpose of protection and the other for maintaining order within the city. Between these walls would be sustainable land for agricultural uses with some farmers having homes built there. Most medieval cities had to be built around a vital water supply such as the sea or rivers. They would mainly use these water supplies for cleaning and drinking. They would also serve as a use for the sewage system of the city if the waste wasn’t already thrown onto the streets. As for farmlands, if they were not big enough to supply for the city, then the city would have to base its agricultural living off of the hinterlands or trade with another nearby city. All in all, these images show how medieval cities were designed and set up. The purpose for the walls were mainly for defenses and the inner part of the city had a main building for religious purposes. Houses were built upward because of the surrounding wall and they were centralized around a courtyard or market area. Medieval cities served as a basic function of how later European cities would be built and even some today still have their central squares located in the same place where the medieval towns had placed theirs.

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