The Simplified Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith -- Book 3, Chapter 3a: The rise of cities after the fall of the Roman empire

Chapter 3a: The rise and progress of cities after the fall of the Roman empire

1 After the fall of the Roman empire, the people of cities and towns were not more favoured than those of the countryside. 2 The tradesmen and mechanics were very poor and mean people. * feudal lands ** early tax record

3 Townspeople were free and independent much earlier than the people of the countryside.

4 At first, the farm of the town was probably rented out to burghers for a few years, in the same way it was rented out to other farmers. 5 Important privileges were bestowed on the burghers along with this grant: 6 Burghers had other privileges: 7 Such towns farmed their own revenues. 8 To understand this, we must remember that in those days, no European sovereign was able to protect his weaker subjects from the great lords. 9 The princes who hated their barons gave the most liberal grants to their burghs. 10 The militia of those cities were not inferior to militia of the countryside. 11 In countries where the sovereign's authority was never destroyed, such as in France or England, the cities had no opportunity to become independent. 12 Order, good government, liberty, and security were established in cities when the countryside was still exposed to violence. 13 City people must always ultimately derive their subsistence and raw materials from the countryside.
Next: Chapter 3b: The development of commerce