The growth and progress of the European civilization in the middle ages was largely due to the rise of the merchant class. With their ambition and hard work, they paved the way for modern times. Under their leadership, Europe enjoyed a prosperity not known since the Roman Empire. When Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, it had attained a level of sophistication in its universities, literature, art, learning, science and technology, that were unmatched in the world. Significant advances were made in the areas of tenant farming, harnessing the horse to the plough, cloth making, iron working, ship building and navigation. This technical progress would not have amounted to much if it had not been coupled with the intellectual tools that the businessmen of that time used to manage his business and observe and measure fluctuations in the economy. The world of trade had to perfect various systems: from dealing with rates of exchange for goods and services outside their towns or even countries, establishing credit procedures, legal bases in keeping with the times, and methods for monitoring and balancing their accounts. All of these eventually became the foundation for our modern system of economic relations. Although it is often ignored in history, the Middle Ages saw the birth of a new cultural experience in Europe, which eventually led to the Renaissance. The cultural heritage of the Middle Ages is still apparent in architecture, art, education, science and technology, that have survived the test of time.