Pretty simple question, or I think so, anyway. I want to know how to determine a realistic ratio of people in my fantasy medieval province living in supercities, cities, towns, villages and farming homesteads. I can't seem to find any good resources online regarding what urbanisation levels were like in the middle ages, so I'm at a little bit of a loss.
According to Ian Mortimer in The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England in XIV century England had about 200 cities or towns with total of about 300 000 inhabitants and had 2,5 million inhabitants in total (urbanisation per cent equal to 12) . 5 biggies cities are (with their estimated inhabitants)
- London 40k
- York 12,1k
- Bristol 10,6k
- Coventry 8k
- Norwich 6,6k
Here's one way:
- No 'supercities' of millions as we know them: Those require transport, banking, food preservation, sanitation, and communications that simply were unknown then.
- What they called 'cities' we today call 'towns' - only a few thousand inhabitants. Mighty Imperial Constantinople had a paltry few hundred thousand (today that's Des Moines, Iowa and suburbs). Cities tended to higher death rates than birth rates - some rural folks would migrate in. Towns became more popular as arable land became scarce.
- Lots of farming villages. Generally 90% of the population lived in those villages doing subsistence agriculture. This is where the big families were, because this is where the food was. Since most folks in most places didn't own the land that they worked, they couldn't build farmhouses and they couldn't accumulate much wealth.
Towns are nice to tell a story in because urban settings are places WE are familiar with. Most folks saw their home village, a town on occasion...and not much else.