Townspeople of a new type. Marco Polo. Jacques Coeur

Townspeople of a new type. Marco Polo. Jacques Coeur

Commodity production and ignorance are incompatible things. In contrast to the villages, the ability to read, write and count acquired a mass character in the city. In the midst of burghers, intellectual needs arise and a new type of thinking is emerging for the Middle Ages. The psychology and attitude of dexterous, energetic merchants and bankers, hardworking and courageous artisans who defended the freedom of their native cities from encroachments of the seigneurs, would inevitably lead to the renewal of society. The rhythm of the city’s life was much faster than the rural one.

Traditionally, merchants were treated with special care. It was from their environment that many capable, knowledgeable, educated people came out, not only smart merchants, but also active politicians.

A new type of man can be considered a Venetian traveler Marco Polo. In the years 1271-1275. He accompanied his father and uncle on a trip to Central Asia and China. Obviously, the purpose of the trip was not only trade, but also diplomatic. They carried the message of the pope to the Mongolian khan and the Chinese emperor Khubilai. Having earned Khubilai’s trust, Marco Polo was accepted to his service and for a short time he visited various parts of the empire. Only in 1291 Polo and his family went to their homeland. First they sailed by sea, visited the island of Sumatra and South India, and from the coast of Persia they moved by land and in 1295 returned to their native Venice,

which they had not seen for 25 years.

Three years later, Marco Polo took part in the sea battle and was captured by the Genoese. In prison he dictated his memories to his comrade. So there was a book by Mark Polo “On the Diversity of the World”, also called “The Book of Wonders”. It told about the climate, minerals, flora and fauna, food, customs and occupations of the population of Asia.

The embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit of business people in the late Middle Ages became the French merchant, banker and statesman Jacques Coeur – at that time the richest man in France. Jacques Coeur obtained his state not by traditional feudal methods, but by trade with the East, mining of silver and copper at his own mines, and also by the manufacture of cloth. He provided considerable loans to the French King Charles VII. This active and business man was the royal treasurer, headed the financial council under the king, carried out diplomatic assignments, influenced political life. He even had the right to coinage. For his services, Jacques Coeur received the title of nobleman. He had large land, built luxury castles.

The nobles, who owed him considerable sums, dreamed of getting rid of this “rich upstart”. Jacques Kera was accused of concealing money and arrested, and his property was confiscated. But after a while he managed to free himself, flee the country and find shelter with the Pope. Until the last day Jacques Coeur remained an adventurer and died on the island of Chios during the fulfillment of the Pope’s mission against the Turks.


Townspeople of a new type. Marco Polo. Jacques Coeur