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In the Middle Ages the relationships between townsfolk and villagers were not particularly good. Townspeople (not only those enjoying the freedom of full city rights, but also the poor) regarded themselves as higher ranking than agricultural peasants in villages. Often enough they did indeed have higher social standing, due to their trade [and] and business profits.

Towns were the economic and cultural centres, but it was the country that provided the goods, especially foodstuffs. In medieval town, the best properties around the square and the market were owned by rich Councillors and merchants. Around them lived the craftsmen and artisans, and the poor by the city walls. The townspeople's livelihoods stemmed largely from trade, skilled crafts and many associated professions. Like today, the townsfolk brought their food at the market.

According to some sources, Prague at the time of Charles IV had some 40,000 inhabitants. At this time London had about 80,000. Paris was comparable to Prague, although the Czech capital covered a larger area. The nobles did not generally live in the cities, but resided on their own estates.