Study of Western European Economic History: The Influence of money on Capitalist Economic relations

2022-05-29 0 By

Foreword Capitalist economic relation comes from the differentiation of small commodity producer, they are formed spontaneously.As a result of the division of producers of small commodities, on the one hand, there arose owners and employers of capital, which later came to be known as the bourgeoisie;On the other hand, there are workers employed by capital, hired hands, later known as the proletariat.The ancestors of both classes were peasants or craftsmen from the countryside.Of course, in the case of some industries mentioned above, merchants once played a very important role in the process of differentiation of producers of small commodities, and after the infiltration of merchant capital into some industries, merchants became the capital to control producers of small commodities and turn them into hired workers.So where do businessmen come from?It was not uncommon for feudal lords to double themselves as merchants or transform themselves into merchants, but this was not the main source of merchants.The generation before, or the generation before, or a few generations before, most merchants were still farmers, producers of small commodities, and they themselves were the product of the differentiation of producers of small commodities.Thus, “it was the migrants from the countryside who conquered the cities from within.”In the feudal society of Western Europe, the concept of bourgeoisie and proletariat does not exist, people living in the city, collectively referred to as citizens.According to Marc Bloch, the term citizen appeared and was in use in France as early as the 11th century, as opposed to knights, priests, and serfs.A citizen is a citizen of a city.Some are rich and some are poor;There’s the top, there’s the bottom.There are owners and employers of capital, and there are laborers and employees employed by capital.Between rich and poor, between top and bottom, between employer and employee, although there are all kinds of contradictions, but as a result of cities and villages, all the citizens, in addition to the feudal lords and their families to move in the city live, have ruled the country with the feudal class has a contradiction, citizens are sharing a common interest in this area.As the population continues to move from rural to urban areas, migration itself is an important way to increase human capital.As the role of human capital reflected on human body is easier to play in cities than in rural areas, and human capital can be increased in cities through various channels, including the study of specialized skills and the continued increase of knowledge and skills in the job, the balance of power between urban and rural areas is changing in favor of cities.On one side is a net increase in human capital: both quantitative and qualitative.On the other side is the net loss of human capital: both the outflow of those who can work, the repressed motivation of those who remain in the countryside and the stagnation of productive skills.The intellectual elite moved to the cities, as did some of the wealthy and talented members of the nobility.Therefore, in the feudal society of Western Europe, the power center outside the system grew day by day, and the alien forces outside the system gathered more and more.It was a symbol of the coming storm that would destroy the old order.In terms of time, the medieval cities of Western Europe had gone through eight or nine hundred years in some places (from the 10th century to the 18th century, or even the 19th century), from being subordinate to the feudal lords when they were initially established, to gradually getting rid of the feudal lords’ control, and then to being equal and competing with the feudal lords, until finally winning the feudal lords.Some cities were luckier, but they also lasted four or five hundred years (from the 10th to the 14th and 15th centuries).In this long process, the demand for freedom of urban residents is increasingly strong with the development of commodity money relationship and the development of urban economy.Specifically speaking, the demands of urban residents for freedom can be summed up as the demands for personal freedom, property freedom and trade freedom.The city dweller’s demand for personal freedom.The first people who settled in the cities were the artisans with serf status and the serfs who escaped from the countryside.The artisans who were serfs had to obey their masters, and they were allowed to work in the cities in order to pay them money.But they must also fulfill other obligations to their masters, although these obligations can also be replaced by monetary payments.If the master ordered him to return to the village, he must do so.He is not free.As for fugitive serfs, once they were found, they were forcibly sent back to their places of origin.No fugitives should be captured during the fair, but only temporarily;As soon as the fair was over, the fugitives were escorted back to the village as usual.Therefore, at the beginning of the establishment of the city, urban residents who had serf status were most concerned about their personal freedom.In their view, personal freedom is the minimum condition for commercial activity and a peaceful life.Closely related to personal freedom is the freedom of marriage.Serfdom was subject to various restrictions on marriage.After they entered the cities, as serf status continued, they could only marry women of their own class, and their children still had serf status and were attached to the feudal masters.If their daughters wanted to marry, they had to obtain the permission of the feudal lords in advance and pay a certain fee, called the “exognization tax”, as a way of compensating the feudal lords for the loss of manpower, which the feudal lords regarded as a loss of manpower.Even previously free urban residents have trouble getting married.Reason is: in the early stage of urban development, urban residents, the less men more than women, and men in single, single woman that less, it is hard to have personal freedom of a grown man in the city within the city to find the right mate, so they had to go to find a serfdom in nearby rural unmarried woman or a widow, married.According to the feudal customs of the region, all or at least half of the children of a free man married a serf woman were serfs.If the men in the cities wanted their serf wives and children to become free men, they had to pay a large ransom to the feudal lords.The above mentioned infreedom of marriage is the personal infreedom that urban residents are extremely dissatisfied with and also manifests in the aspect of career choice.Once in the cities, artisans and fugitive serfs with serf status were not free to choose any other occupation except to open their own small workshop, set up a stall, or work for others.There were facilities in the city that needed labor, but the people who were in charge were afraid that if they used people who were serfs they would get into trouble, or they would get greedy and they would send people to blackmail them or they would send people to arrest them and send them back.To examine the personal freedom demanded by urban residents, we must examine from a deeper level that “the most indispensable need of the citizen class is personal freedom.There is no freedom, that is to say, no right to move, trade or sell goods, which slaves do not enjoy;Without freedom, trade cannot proceed.They demand freedom only for the benefit of it.In the minds of the civic class, freedom is not at all an innate right.”This last sentence is intriguing.Regarding freedom as a natural right was a slogan that aroused great social response on the eve of bourgeois revolution hundreds of years later, while in the process of striving for autonomy and independence, cities in the middle Ages considered more matters of vital interests.Isn’t it true that people in cities have long been free from the constraints and restrictions of feudal lords?Even though they were born serfs, who knew them when they left the manor and went away?They just have to think they’re free.But de facto freedom is not equal to de jure freedom.What the citizens want is freedom in their legal status.”The air of the city makes one free,” then, not by law, but by convention.It should also be pointed out that this famous saying, which was popular in the Middle Ages in Western Europe, can only be said to be in general accordance with the actual situation of the time, which meant that the feudal masters had no right to take back runaway serfs and could no longer treat them as serfs if they had lived in the city for a year and a day.But during that year, the city’s serfs lived in constant fear.Moreover, this practice was not always followed by feudal lords everywhere, depending on how local feudal power was compared with urban power.In the early days of its establishment and development, the city was still dependent on the feudal lords and did not want to offend those influential feudal lords over the issue of individual serfs.The pursuit of personal freedom, therefore, remains the most pressing demand of city dwellers until they are legally granted it.The request of urban residents for freedom of property is first linked with the request of personal freedom, without personal freedom there is no freedom of property.In fact, the freedom of property refers to the ownership and free disposal of personal property when an individual is alive and dying.Urban residents with serf status, since they had no personal freedom, of course, they had no ownership of personal property, no right to dispose of their property.Even their right to spend their working hours or earn money is limited.The feudal lords, for example, decreed that during the autumn harvest season each year, the cities that had obtained concessions forbade the sale of cloth for a month so that all their hired hands could attend the harvest.The wills of urban serfs regarding the distribution of their estates were considered invalid.Rural practices concerning the distribution of serfs’ property after their death (such as the payment of a portion of the estate to the feudal Lord, or the feudal Lord’s right to take whatever was most valuable from the estate) also applied to urban serfs.The freedom of property of urban residents is directly related to the feudal lords’ reservation of judicial power.The village was undoubtedly subject to the jurisdiction of the Lord;At the beginning of the establishment of the city, the city could not get rid of the jurisdiction of the Lord.In the temporary courts of fair trade, trade disputes were decided according to the usual practice of commerce, an exception granted by the feudal lords.At first, the city did not enjoy judicial power, so when it came to property disputes and trade disputes between feudal lords and urban industry and commerce, the property of city residents could not be protected, even free city residents could not be exempt from the situation of property expropriation.Urban residents can not live according to their own will, which is also a reflection of the property control is not free.For example, the richest of the city’s inhabitants, merchants, wanted to build luxurious private houses, but in some places the feudal lords interfered, believing that such houses were not worthy of a man of humble birth.This, of course, raises the eyebrows of businessmen.In some places, too, there were limits on the number of servants that urban households could employ, chiefly because the feudal lords did not wish to see their special status usurped or equalled by men of humble birth.In dress, for example, some places have quite strict rules.Provisions, in France, “civilians or traders shall not wear gold jewellery, precious stones, gold, silver, gold, squirrel leather or fur for decoration, must not be used as the nobles are not forbidden” put forward by the feudal class one reason is that if you don’t limit on the dress, so noble lady with her maid but points out, not a noble lady with on the streets of help or not tavern ownerIs there no difference?In France it was decreed that furs were to be worn only by wealthy city dwellers, and that the wives of city dwellers were to own “in proportion to the quantity of their property.”Freedom of trade is not only the demand of city residents, but also the demand of the city itself.The question of free trade has already been discussed in reference to the restrictions imposed by the feudal class on the production of goods and the exchange of money.It should be added that there was no end of public or disguised extortion of the city and its inhabitants by the feudal lords.At the beginning of the establishment of the city, the city was under the jurisdiction of the owner of the feudal territory in the region, and the right to approve the opening of the market and the right to collect taxes belonged to the feudal owner.These two rights belonged to the feudal lords, which of course was not conducive to the freedom of trade and the development of the city.The feudal lords used these rights to generate huge revenues.Forced borrowing was another means by which the feudal class extorted money from the city and its inhabitants.Forced borrowing is usually cheap or even interest-free, and defaults are common.During the feudal period the city and its inhabitants had to bear the losses themselves.In addition, the great feudal lords constantly minted inferior currencies of light weight and poor quality, which also greatly damaged normal industrial and commercial activities.Foundry power was a means used by the feudal lords to deal with cities and make profits.The craftsmen and merchants of the city were badly hit by the repeated devaluations of the currency.In order to intensify their raids, these feudal lords also abused the right of coinage by regularly withdrawing money in circulation and sending it to the coinage workshop for recasting.With each recasting, the weight is reduced a little, and so is the color.The amount of copper in silver coins became so large that after many changes, most of the silver coins were no longer silver, but black coins mixed with a large amount of copper.The changes were frequent, for example, several times a year in some German cities after the 13th century.During a long period of time in the feudal society of Western Europe, gold coins almost disappeared.The feudal lords of Western Europe generally did not mint gold coins themselves, but the coins of the Byzantine Empire and the Coins of the Arabs circulated in the market.The law that bad money drives out good money is at work.While depreciated, adulterated and underweight coins circulated on the market, coins of higher weight and quality, especially gold coins, were withdrawn from circulation and melted down into bullion or vessels for storage.In some monasteries and feudal mansions in Western Europe, many gold and silver bars or vessels were collected, while the amount of gold and silver in circulation was greatly reduced.This is very bad for the development of trade.The disunity of weights and measures is equally troublesome to urban businessmen and even to ordinary citizens, for it is one of the important causes of increasing production and transaction costs and decreasing real incomes.Only by unifying the system of weights and measures can industrial and commercial enterprises accurately estimate the profit of their operations and ordinary residents be assured in their transactions.Historically, that was the case, so the economy was always moving towards standardization, towards a common standard for checking inputs and outputs and in the view of the wealthier businessmen among the city dwellers, the feudal monopoly on land was not conducive to free trade, it was one of the feudal privileges.Conclusion Industry and commerce demanded that this monopoly be broken so that they could buy land and operate on it.Because this kind of monopoly on land involves the feudal system of Western Europe, it is not easy to be broken.The wealthy in the cities made various efforts to loosen restrictions on the sale of land, and even demanded that land be transferred along with the status of nobility.