Peter Spufford
Power and Profit

The money that these clergy drew from their benefices was mostly spent in the city. In addition, there were over 1,300 students at the curial university, which had moved there with the pope, and many of these students, already in the orders, were also maintained by money from distant benefices.

However, the largest group in the additional population was made up of those who had come to supply goods and services to the pope and the cardinals, to the resident clergy and the university. Such suppliers of goods and services, many of them Tuscans, had families and households of their own and accounted for some 20,000 immigrants. Of 1,224 tradesmen and artisans who were members of the confraternity of Notre Dame in 1376, over 1,100 were Italians, including not only goldsmiths and jewellers but also armourers, leather-workers, weavers, carpenters, stonemasons and sculptors, Avignon had become a city of opportunity for craftsmen and businessmen, like Francesco Darini, the best-documented businessman of the Middle Ages. It had also become, as Petrarch drily commented, a city of opportunity for a host of 'adventurers, usurers, thieves and prostitutes.' Such people, of course, swelled the population of all capitals.

Again like all capitals, Avignon also became a city of innkeepers who catered for the immense throng of visitors, litigants in the courts, and petitioners for favours. Just as Botero described, 'all such as aspire and thirst after offices and honours' did indeed 'rush thither amain with emulation and disdain for others.' Many stayed in the inns along the street leading up from the bridge.

Because the papal capital had moved, the difference that being a capital city made is most visible in Avignon, but the same emphasis on the supply of goods and services is visible in all the capital cities. In London, the largest livery companies, or guilds, each with over fifty members at the end of the fifteenth century, were nearly all ones concerned with retail trade, with delivering goods to the customer at the end of a chain of supply that might reach back hundreds or even thousands of miles to distant producers. They were tailors and drapers, grocers and mercers, fishmongers and brewersm skinners and goldsmiths. Every capital city had a network of retail shopkeepers, prepared to supply, at a price, every need or fashionable whim of the ruler and his court. Those who were selling the same range of goods frequently had their shops close to one another. Drapers were to be found together in one place, vintners in another, butchers in another, fishmongers in another, and mercers and grocers in yet other places close to each other. The same was true of such manufacturing as went on in the these cities. Goldsmiths, for example, were to be found together in the city centres, whilst tanners, because of the odious smell, were together on the periphery. In Venice the tanners were not even on the main islands, but on the Giudecca, just as the glass-makers, because of the fire risk, were on another island, Murano. Only a few trades, like bakeries, were scattered, each serving a neighbourhood. This tradition of dealers in the same commodities clustering together still survives in Delhi and in dozens of Islamic cities from Marrakesh and Cairo to Istanbul and Karachi. This is true not only for older trades, like the dealers in old clothes, but also for new specialisms—bicycles, car-parts, photographic equipment and even electronic gadgetry. It is a living, growing tradition. We have already mentioned the armies of masons, sculptors, carpenters and fresco painters who, under the direction of supervising architects, were at work on the perpetual building and rebuilding of palaces for ruler and nobility alike. In cities like Florence in the thirteenth century, Avignon in the fourteenth century, or Brussels in the fifteenth, they were also building whole new quarters for the mushrooming population.

Notaries were also exceptionally busy and numerous in Avignon, as in most capital cities, for all contracts and agreements needed licensed notaries to record them in official registers to make them legal and binding.

Where 'the supreme place of justice is kept' a corps of professional lawyers necessarily comes into existence, to plead in the courts on behalf of the litigants from all corners of the state. Such litigants, as well as the petitioners for favours, brought yet more money to the capital, spending freely not only on lawyers and innkeepers, but also on greasing the palms of all those whom they thought might assist them.

For many of the offices in the new departments of state some sort of training was necessary. Avignon was not the only capital to have a ruler-sponsored university whose best graduates walked into civil service jobs. Paris, with a twelfth-century university, was perhaps the archetype. The university at Naples was founded by the Emperor Frederick II in 1224 specifically with the aim of feeding the civil service of the Regno with candidates for jobs. So was that at Lisbon. In the fourteenth century, state-sponsored universities were created at Prague and Cracow and Vienna. In the fifteenth century, they were joined by universities in the capitals of many other, lesser, principalities, like Heidelberg. However, not all capitals had such universities. The Burgundian university for the Netherlands was at Leuven, not Brussels; the Visconti university was at Pavia, not Milan; the English universities were at Oxford and Cambridge, not London or Westminster, although London did have Inns of Court in which lawyers received their professional education.

Physicians and surgeons, barbers and apothecaries were also numerous in capital cities, for the rich provided the best patients. Some of these medical men had a great deal of insight, like Guy de Chaulliac, doctor to Pope Clement VI, who wrote accurately and perceptively on bubonic plague, but others were mere quacks, intent on fleecing their patients.

Then, as now, there was also an 'entertainment industry' focused on capital cities, of very mixed prestige and cultural value. At the top end of the spectrum were the musicians, maintained in varying numbers, which were often considerable, by the rulers themselves, and also by many individual nobles too. Much lower in the spectrum were players, and popular entertainers like bear-wards. At the bottom end of the spectrum, and most numerous of all, were the prostitutes. These varied in quality from wealthy courtesans to common drabs. Like members of other trades, prostitutes often worked close to one another, and there were 'red-light' quarters in medieval capitals, like the Glatigny, next to the bishop's palace, in the heart of Paris, which shared the Ile de la Cite with the royal palace, and the cathedral of Notre Dame.

  The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,

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Through Eden took their solitary way.