In general the agricultural economy remained at the level of barter, even where it was not limited simply to subsistence farming. The requirements of individual farm and the prevailing natural environment conditioned production. Direct taxation by landlords and government did not have a dynamic effect; instead it was a burden on the land which only encouraged conservative attitudes towards farming. The most important tax, the 'great tithe', was paid by the farmer in produce. Incentives to go over to a money economy were not lacking, however, and often the 'little tithe' and ground rent were paid in cash. Increased turnover of business with traders in the towns, especially in grain, wine and cattle, compelled a greater use of currency, if only for the sake of convenience. By the sixteenth century most central European agriculture produced some surplus. This had led to the development of a network of markets in the areas of both Gutswirtschaft (demesne farming) and Grundherrtschaft (tenant farming), particularly near large metropolitan centres where the growth of non-noble landownership was especially rapid and where, as in the lie de France around Paris, intensive market gardening was particularly profitable. Opportunities for more intensive exploitation of the land were even seized by foreign entrepreneurs. Farms in Schleswig-Holstein, for example, were financed by Dutchmen experienced in dairy farming and cheese-making for the export market.
The increased demand for grain in west Europe, Iberia and the Mediterranean area drastically affected the social structure of east European countries such as Poland, as has already been shown. The great increase in meat consumption in Germany,