European society in the Middle Ages was predominately rural. The great urban centres of the Roman Empire had either decayed or remained as administrative and religious centres. The societal wealth and power rested within the countryside. The countryside began to experience economic growth in the 11th century. This economic growth would trigger a series of changes to the European societal order in the 12th century. While the majority of the population remained in the countryside, an influx of people migrated from the countryside to towns. A process of urban revival was seen throughout Western Europe. Industries emerged, trade flourished, and the societal structure began to change, leading to a shift in power dynamics. Conflict arose in the
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The guilds achieved this, as they required members to swear oaths and adhere to the rules of the guild. Because of the increasing wealth and social status of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie and guilds became increasingly important in the society. This is evident in the amount of guilds given control of municipal governance. Guildhalls became an important institution in the late middle ages, and it significantly contributed to the rise of importance of the towns.
The guildhalls as institutions became one of the most important outcomes of economic growth as they were an important political tool. The bourgeoisie, although free, continued to be subjected to a lord or bishop whom exercised jurisdiction over the town. The bourgeoisie led the push, with the citizens, to gain privileges in self-governance. They demanded autonomy, ability to legislate their own laws, administer their own courts, and levy their own taxes. Towns won their independence through acquiring charters from lords. This essentially was accomplished in two distinct ways: the first was through revolts, the second through purchasing the privilege from the feudal lord.
The charters issued did not apply to all inhabitants of the city, generally only the bourgeoisie. In the charter of Lorris in 1155 King Louis VII issued rights to the citizens. This charter illustrates the privileges granted to the