Hi, I’m John Green, this is crash course European history.

So, last time we were focusing on queens and kings and rivalries, today we’re going to (gonna) take a break from struggles over religion and political disputes that made for so much violence and look instead at some basics of everyday life. The food people ate centuries ago, the kinds of things they bought and sold, and changes in the kinds of lives people could hope to live.

I know developments in agriculture and commerce may seem like sidelines to the main political show, I mean, there’s a reason it’s called Game of Thrones, and not like game of slightly improved seed quality. But I’d argue that history is about how people lived and what we might learn from their lives. And if you think about our lives today, our leaders are important, our forms of government are important, but as Miroslaw Volf said “politics touches everything, but politics isn’t everything”.

On a day-to-day basis our lives are also shaped  by the kinds of goods and services available to us. And our professional and personal opportunities.

Whether you go to school, whether you get enough to eat, the kinds of freedom you do and do not enjoy. Those are the big questions we’re exploring today.

The citizens of many European nations today  have long life expectancies and a top standard of living, Europe also comprises the largest developed economic market place and a major region of trade. 

But in 1500 that was hardly the case, in the early 14th century a major famine erupted with further famines across the centuries.  We've talked about the Black Death. Trade was local and regulated by guilds, that is by  organisations of individual artisans and traders that determine the number and type of goods that could be produces and marketed.