Official 46 Passage 2


The Commercial Revolution in Medieval Europe


According to paragraph 5, the most important result of the commercial revolution was to

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  • A
    simplify the organization of European society
  • B
    provide employment to agricultural workers
  • C
    encourage merchants to become community leaders
  • D
    change Europe from a rural to a more urban society
正确答案: D

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  • Beginning in the 1160s, the opening of new silver mines in northern Europe led to the minting and circulation of vast quantities of silver coins. The widespread use of cash greatly increased the volume of international trade.Business procedures changed radically. The individual traveling merchant who alone handled virtually all aspects of exchange evolved into an operation involving three separate types of merchants: the sedentary merchant who ran the "home office," financing and organizing the firm's entire export-import trade; the carriers who transported goods by land and sea; and the company agents resident in cities abroad who, on the advice of the home office, looked after sales and procurements.

    Commercial correspondence, unnecessary when one businessperson oversaw everything and made direct bargains with buyers and sellers, multiplied. Regular courier service among commercial cities began. Commercial accounting became more complex when firms had to deal with shareholders, manufacturers, customers, branch offices, employees, and competing firms. Tolls on roads became high enough to finance what has been called a road revolution, involving new surfaces and bridges, new passes through the Alps, and new inns and hospices for travelers. The growth of mutual trust among merchants facilitated the growth of sales on credit and led to new developments in finance, such as the bill of exchange, a device that made the long, slow, and very dangerous shipment of coins unnecessary.

    The ventures of the German Hanseatic League illustrate these advancements. The Hanseatic League was a mercantile association of European towns dating from 1159. The league grew by the end of the fourteenth century to include about 200 cities from Holland to Poland. Across regular, well-defined trade routes along the Baltic and North seas, the ships of league cities carried furs, wax, copper, fish, grain, timber, and wine. These goods were exchanged for finished products, mainly cloth and salt, from western cities. At cities such as Bruges and London, Hanseatic merchants secured special trading concessions, exempting them from all tolls and allowing them to trade at local fairs. Hanseatic merchants established foreign trading centers, the most famous of which was the London Steelyard, a walled community with warehouses, offices, a church, and residential quarters for company representatives. By the late thirteenth century, Hanseatic merchants had developed an important business technique, the business register. Merchants publicly recorded their debts and contracts and received a league guarantee for them. This device proved a decisive factor in the later development of credit and commerce in northern Europe.

    These developments added up to what one modern scholar has called "a commercial revolution." In the long run, the commercial revolution of the High Middle Ages (A.D.1000–1300) brought about radical change in European society. One remarkable aspect of this change was that the commercial classes constituted a small part of the total population-never more than 10 percent.They exercised an influence far in excess of their numbers. The commercial revolution created a great deal of new wealth, which meant a higher standard of living. The existence of wealth did not escape the attention of kings and other rulers. Wealth could be taxed, and through taxation, kings could create strong and centralized states. In the years to come, alliances with the middle classes were to enable kings to weaken aristocratic interests and build the states that came to be called modern.

    The commercial revolution also provided the opportunity for thousands of agricultural workers to improve their social position. The slow but steady transformation of European society from almost completely rural and isolated to relatively more urban constituted the greatest effect of the commercial revolution that began in the eleventh century. Even so, merchants and business people did not run medieval communities, except in central and northern Italy and in the county of Flanders. Most towns remained small. The nobility and churchmen determined the predominant social attitudes, values, and patterns of thought and behavior. The commercial changes of the eleventh through fourteenth centuries did, however, lay the economic foundation for the development of urban life and culture.

  • 从十二世纪六十年代欧洲北部开辟了新的银矿开始,大量银币开始铸造和流通。 现金的广泛使用大大增加了国际贸易量,从根本上改变了商业程序。 从几乎要独自处理交易的方方面面的流动商人演变成了需要三种不同类型商人的操作:一个维持总部,为企业整个进出口贸易筹集资金和做出规划的商人;一个负责通过海陆运输货物的送货员;一个驻国外城市的企业代理,此人依照总部的建议,主管销售和采购。

    当一个商人可以监管贸易的所有事项或者买卖双方直接交易时,商业信函没有必要,但是有了分工后它们被大量使用。 商业城市间开始有了常规的快递服务。 当企业不得不开始处理与股东、制造商、客户、分支机构、员工和竞争企业之间的众多关系时,商业会计变得更加复杂了。 公路收费高到足以支持所谓的“道路革命”,包括建造新的路面和桥梁、穿过阿尔卑斯山的新隧道,以及为旅客提供的新旅馆和招待所。 商家间的相互信任促进了赊销的增长,金融出现了新的发展:比如汇票的产生,避免了那些不必要的又缓慢又危险的长途钱币运输。

    德国汉萨同盟的商业冒险正是这些进步的体现。 汉萨同盟是欧洲城镇的一个商业协会,始建于1159年。 该同盟在十四世纪末迅速扩大到包括了荷兰和波兰的约200个城市。 沿着波罗的海和北海的明确、固定的贸易路线,同盟城市的船只运输着毛皮、蜡、铜、鱼、谷物、木材和酒。 这些货物主要是与西部城市的布料和盐等成品交换。 在布鲁日和伦敦等城市,汉萨商人获得特殊的贸易优惠,免除了所有的过路费,并且允许他们在当地的集市做买卖。 汉萨商人建立了国外贸易中心,其中最著名的是“伦敦钢院”,一个有仓库、办公室、教堂、公司代表住处的封闭社区。 到十三世纪后期,汉萨商人已发展出一种重要的商业技术——商业登记。 商人公开记录了他们的债务和合同,并获得了同盟为他们作担保。 这一机制在北欧的信贷和商业发展中起了决定性的作用。

    所有的这些发展被现代学者称为“商业革命”。 从长远来看,中世纪的商业革命(公元1000-1300年)给欧洲社会带来了根本性的变化。 其中一个显著的变化是,商人的数量只占人口的一小部分,还不到百分之十。但是他们带来了的影响远远超过这个比例。 商业革命创造了大量的新财富,意味着人们可以有更高的生活水平。 国王和其他统治者也注意到了这些财富的存在。 财富可以被征税,通过税收,国王可以创造强大的集权国家。 在后面几年里,与中产阶级的联盟使国王能够削弱贵族的利益,并建立了“现代”的国家。

    商业革命也使成千上万的农业从业者有机会提高社会地位。 欧洲社会开始从几乎完全孤立的农村缓慢而稳定地转变为相对更为城市化,这是从十一世纪开始的商业革命带来的最大影响。 尽管如此,除了在意大利中北部和弗兰德斯县之外,商人和生意人没有掌控中世纪社会。 大部分城镇仍然很小。 贵族阶层和教士决定主要的社会态度、价值观,以及思想和行为模式。 但是十一世纪到十四世纪的商业变革确实为城市生活和文化的发展奠定了经济基础。
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    题干分析:关键词:important result of the commercial revolution


    选项分析:根据定位句The slow but steady transformation of European society from almost completely rural and isolated to relatively more urban constituted the greatest effect of the commercial revolution that began in the eleventh century.可知,欧洲社会缓慢而稳定的转变——从几乎是农村的、孤立的,到相对更加城市化——构成了十一世纪开始的最大的商业革命效应。因此选项D“欧洲从一个农业社会转变为更大程度上的城市社会”与原文一致