WHILE commerce and industry were thus taking a new course, the primitive unity of the commercial and industrial classes, already severely shaken during the preceding period, was finally broken up. At the top appeared a growing minority of bourgeois capitalists; in the middle developed the small or medium bourgeoisie of masters, who formed the free crafts and corporations, below were the workmen, who were slowly becoming separated from the class of small masters ; and at the bottom of all came the hired wage-earners of the great industry, reinforced by casual elements, who formed a new urban proletariat.