The Expansion and Development of Agriculture in the Eleventh Century
O UR ATTEMPT TO TRACE the revival of town life- reasonable though such a project may have seemed -- has shown that the reality was far too complex to be accurately described by so simple a phrase. Town life did not disappear at the time of the Great Invasions, any more than after the Saracen conquest. It continued to exist, thanks to the Church, and even experienced a renaissance, as we have seen, under the early Carolingians. The razzias of the Northmen checked it in the second half of the ninth century, and it was only later and by slow stages that a new form of town life, that which was to be predominant in the Middle Ages, came into being. It was not until the end of the eleventh century and the appearance of the communes that it grew and developed in the kingdom of France.1 In Germany, on the other hand, the tenth century was the decisive period. The town, unknown to the ancient Germans, originated there under the Ottos.
Rural life, however, presents a very different picture. There the transformation was fundamental, and the eleventh century was a decisive one. The documents themselves offer striking proof of this. Several regions have no charters at all until the end of the tenth century; the majority have only a few,2 with____________________