URBAN ECONOMY AND TH E REGULATION OF INDUSTRY
Up to and during the course of the fifteenth century the towns were the sole centres of commerce and industry, to such an extent that none of it was allowed to escape into the open country. Between them and the country there was a sharp division of labour, the latter practising agriculture only, the former trade and the manual arts. Thus towns were important in proportion to the radius of their economic influence. There were very few exceptions to this rule, perhaps none except Rome, Paris and London, which, as the residences respectively of the head of the Church and of the sovereigns of two great kingdoms, exerted an influence far surpassing that which they would otherwise
have enjoyed. In the Middle Ages the State was not yet sufficiently centralised, and governments and administration were not yet sufficiently fixed to allow the formation of urban agglomerations such as our modern capitals, or the cities of the ancient world. At the most a few episcopal towns owed to their position as diocesan centres an advantage which increased but did not cause their activity. Nowhere was an ecclesiastical institution sufficient in itself to bring about a great development of municipal life. Places where the townsfolk had only to supply the needs of a cathedral or a monastery never rose to be more than country towns of the second order. It is enough to recall the examples of Fulda and Corbie in Germany, of Stavelot and Terouanne in the Low Countries, of E ly in England, of Luxeuil, Vezelai and many small cites in the South of France.