PROF. PIRENNE SPEAKS ON ORIGIN OF CITIES
Rector of University of Ghent Delivers Second of Series of Lectures on "The Origin of Cities in Western Europe"--To Speak Again at 4.30 Today
Professor Henri Pirenne, rector of the University of Ghent, delivered the second of his series of lectures yesterday afternoon in Emerson D. These lectures, which are on "The Origin of Cities in Western Europe", will be continued today, tomorrow, and Monday at 4.30 o'clock in the same hall. He illustrated his lecture with chalk and blackboard drawings of the walled towns, and with a map of Europe showing the trade routes.
In yesterday's lecture, Professor Pirenne continued to trace the growth of European cities from the time of the Moslem invasion. "At this period," he stated, "the western portion of Europe was entirely cut off from intercourse with the East and the Mediterranean lands. The consequence was a complete disappearance of the former Roman cities, and in their stead arose a civilization essentially devoted to agricultural pursuits. From this time dates the manorial system when all the land belonged to the lords and the clergy.
"Furthermore, these large feudal estates produced only for themselves. The producer and the consumer were the same person, there being no inter-state commerce. We may call this period one of economic stagnation, which continued until about the eleventh century. Gradually out of this rural civilization there sprang up walled towns which became the religious and administrative centers of the age.
"These places were not real cities, and their population did not live from commerce or industry. The former 'bourgeois', or trading class, was springing up again. The cause of this re-birth may be traced to Constantinople, the head of the Byzantine Empire, which had not suffered from the Moslems. The traders from this city were instrumental in founding Venice, and Bruges, in Flanders, for cargoes reached the latter port by being transported across Russia to the Nieva River, into the Baltic, and from there to Flanders.
"The founding of these two ports created two currents of inland trade which met in the Champagne district of France. In this way the merchant class was again introduced into Western Europe. Up till then there had existed three classes: the nobles, the clergy, and the peasants. With the introduction of this new class, the transformation of towns into cities was assured".