Development Commerce


Iglesia-de-San-LorenzoFrom the 10th century onwards, population growth prompted an increased demand for essential goods and a closer relationship with the countryside. Prior to the 11th century, trade in the Kingdom of León had been limited to the existence of small markets which were supplied by surplus produce from the surrounding countryside. Evidence exists of such markets towards the end of the 10th century, such as that of León, recorded in documents in 997, or that in Zamora, also recorded, in 985. Markets were usually weekly; in León, it was held on Wednesdays, and in Sahagún, on Mondays, and they allowed for the possibility of exchange.

Throughout the 10th and 11th centuries, the most important products comprised surplus agricultural produce. However, a growing commerce in artisanal products also began to develop. In this context, the market held in Sahagún was of particular significance, where not only surplus agricultural products but also products imported from far away were traded.

Monedas.-Museo-de-Len.-LenIn principle, the most common form of exchange was barter, although the use of money became more widespread, above all from the 11th century onwards. The generalized use of money in the Kingdom of León was an extremely important factor in the development of commerce, given that it favoured exchange, above all of highly prized products. The markets evolved, attending with ever increasing frequency to demand for products from further away, which resulted firstly in a more inter-regional commerce and with time, gave rise to the emergence of fairs.

But if there was one factor which made a definitive contribution to the development of commerce in the Kingdom, it was the fact of standing on the Saint James’ Way. With the fall of the Caliphate of Cordoba, the Christian kingdoms took the offensive and the Muslim world lost its hegemony. This had an influence on the Saint James’ Way, around which numerous factors converged. Security was now guaranteed throughout the territories which lay along its route, whereas travel to the other two great pilgrim destinations, Rome and Jerusalem, involved a long, dangerous and costly journey. Moreover, a well-timed campaign to attract pilgrims was conducted in the 11th century, primarily during the reigns of Fernando I and Alfonso VI, which involved significant fiscal exemptions for traders and which transformed Santiago into a centre for Christian pilgrimage.

Plaza-del-Grano-The increasingly busy Saint James’ Way attracted artisans and traders, many of them from France. As a consequence of the success of the pilgrim route to Santiago, a road and assistance infrastructure emerged, together with urban spaces. The transit of people activated the circulation of money and favoured the minting of regional coinage, an increase in the number of artisans and traders, and a definitive growth in trade.

Another important factor in the economy of the times was the emergence of fairs, stimulated by the growth in commerce. Of special significance was the fair held at Sahagún. The fairs held at León, Benavente, Zamora, Toro and Béjar should also be mentioned in this context.


Commerce Menu


  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

Photo Gallery

Planta Primera Peine, huso y dedales. Museo de León. León Monasterio de San Facundo y San Primitivo. Sahagún Castillo de la Mota. Torre de Caracol. Benavente-1 Portada principal de la Catedral. Santiago de Compostela Las Cabezadas. León Parador de San Marcos. León Las Cabezadas. León Indumentaria medieval. Carnicerías. León Panorámica nocturna de León