By the eleventh century, new trade routes with West Asia were developing. Scandinavian merchants were sailing south from the North Sea to exchange furs and hunting-hawks for cloth; English traders came to sell tin.
In France, by the twelfth century, commerce and crafts began to grow. Earlier, craftsmen used to travel from manor to manor; now they found it easier to settle in one place where goods could be produced and traded for food.
As the number of towns grew and trade continued to expand, town merchants became rich and powerful, and rivalled the power of the nobility.