Thursday, June 30, 2005

Diverse kort

examples of what maps are available of Denmark

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Decline of the Vikings in Iceland

Decline of the Vikings in Iceland - Influence of Dramatic Climate Shifts on European Civilizations: The Rise and Fall of the Vikings and the Little Ice Age: " Olafur Einarsson (1573 - 1659), a pastor in eastern Iceland, wrote the following poem (Bryson, 1977) which illustrates the troubles Icelanders faced:

Formerly the earth produced all sorts
of fruit, plants and roots.
But now almost nothing grows....
Then the floods, the lakes and the blue waves
Brought abundant fish.
But now hardly one can be seen.
The misery increases more.
The same applies to other goods....
Frost and cold torment people
The good years are rare.
If everything should be put in a verse
Only a few take care of the miserables...."

Saturday, June 11, 2005

What makes a place a "town"?

Some people say that to have a town you need a market, a charter (a legal document granting rights or privileges) and a jury of 12. Others will say that you need burghers and a mayor instead of a reeve (a reeve looked after the affairs in the medieval village), and defences, such as a town wall.

The Romans had had towns in England, but the early Saxons did not build towns, they had trading or manufacturing centres.

It was Alfred the Great in the 10th century who started towns (burhs), to defend settlements from Viking raids. During the time of the Domesday Survey Hereford was the only town in the county.

Hand in hand with the growth of towns came the growth of a money economy. This is one of the reasons medieval lords encouraged the growth of towns on their land. Traders could be charged rent and tolls. Barter was often still used in villages, but with more trade taking place, people started using coins. Hereford, for example, had a mint. In fact according to the Domesday Book, seven men were allowed to coin money, including one for the Bishop: . . . .

And in Scandinavia you have the kaupang or seasonal market places frequented by the vikings as traders and described in the sagas.
Even Copenhagne could becalled the trader's harbour

Towns also gave some people new opportunities in a society that was very regulated and controlled.

The saying, 'TOWN AIR MAKES FREE', arose from the practice that if any unfree manorial tenant managed to stay in a town for a year and a day, he or she was set free. This freedom meant that the person could leave the town if they wished (in villages the villeins were tied to the manor), own or sell property and practise a trade

Many towns evolved on strategic sites, such as on a river crossing, near a border or around a monastery, cathedral or castle. Transport links to road or river routes were an important factor in the success of a town as was location. A thriving town would need to be easily accessible to settlements in the surrounding area.

Towns which grew out of successful settlements and villages are often called "organic towns". The historian Maurice Beresford (New Towns of the Middle Ages, 1967) divides medieval towns into two distinct categories, planned and organic towns. More recent scholarship, however, disputes this clear-cut division and asserts that all towns have an element of planning which can be seen in regular burgage plots (the citizens owned their houses but paid an annual fee for the plots of land they were built on), or a laid-out market place.

Later came the stationsby when the commercial centre moved organically from the church to the railway station.