Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bastides are fortified towns built in medieval France starting around 1229, the date of the first recorded bastide. All bastides have a grid layout and a central market square with a covered weighing and measuring area. Bastides began to appear as feudalism began to wane in medieval France, and were an attempt by landowners to generate revenues from taxes on trade rather than tithes (taxes on production). Farmers who elected to move their families to bastides were no longer vassals of the local lord -- they became free men. They were encouraged to work the land around the Bastide, which in turn attracted trade in the form of merchants and markets. The lord taxed dwellings in the bastides and all trade in the market. Ease of tax collection is the reason for the the grid layout (property taxes) and the covered weighing and measuring area in the marketplace.
- Bastides: taxes and real-estate speculation in medieval France -- article (English)
- Agen tourist office article on Bastides (English)
- Photographs of Bastides in Lot and Dordogne regions of France
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