Christopher Loveluck's study explores the transformation of Northwest Europe (primarily Britain, France and Belgium) from the era of the first post-Roman 'European Union' under the Carolingian Frankish kings to the so-called 'feudal' age, between c.AD 600 and 1150. During these centuries radical changes occurred in the organisation of the rural world. Towns and complex communities of artisans and merchant-traders emerged and networks of contact between northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle and Far East were redefined, with long-lasting consequences into the present day. Loveluck provides the most comprehensive comparative analysis of the rural and urban archaeological remains in this area for twenty-five years. Supported by evidence from architecture, relics, manuscript illuminations and texts, this book explains how the power and intentions of elites were confronted by the aspirations and actions of the diverse rural peasantry, artisans and merchants, producing both intended and unforeseen social changes.