Thursday, September 17, 2009

Champagne and Fairs

Who would have thought that the Champagne Fairs would have played such an important role for Europe. Without them Europe would not have been introduced the world of production and trade which is so crucial for its development.
Four cities: Troyes; which became the capital for the county that became Champagne, Provins, Bar-sur-Aube, and Lagny attracted all the trade. The question is why?
The counts of Champagne offered protection for the merchants. As soon as they started their journey to the fairs, they were protected from pillagers. There were also "Guards of the Fair" hired by the counts. They were the police for the fairs. They enforced justice and order. They made sure people followed through with their contract promises and they also fined people who were cheating. There were also two notables who were like judges who could hear cases and impose penalties.
Because of these two things, it created a "nonatural monopoly for the fairs." It was because of this that these fairs were held in these cities and not somewhere else.
People of many different places came from all over to participate in the fairs. The first type were the local merchants of the towns themselves. There were also merchants from other French and Flemish towns who organized themselves into the "Hanse of Seventeen Cities." There were merchants from western and southern french cities. There were merchants from northern Italy. There were merchants from all over Europe; Spain, Portugal, Germany, England, and Scotland. There were also merchants from the Orient. All of these different merchants contributed to the fairs with many different products. They all played different roles. It worked out well because there was selection. Each of the different types of merchants had a certain loyalty and commitment to certain fairs. Everybody has favorites right?
These fairs did so much for these cities that otherwise would not have been so famous.

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