Trade flourished, population numbers increased dramatically, and (advanced) education was no longer limited to the clergy; Dutch epic literature such as Elegast (1150), the Roelantslied and Van den vos Reynaerde (1200) were widely enjoyed.
The various city guilds as well as the necessity of water boards (in charge of dikes, canals, etc.) in the Dutch delta and coastal regions resulted in an exceptionally high degree of communal organization.
However, the centralist policies of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries, at first violently opposed by the cities of the Low Countries, had a profound impact and changed this.
During Charles the Bold's many wars, which were a major economic burden for the Burgundian Netherlands, tensions slowly increased.
As with all ethnic groups, the ethnogenesis of the Dutch (and their predecessors) has been a lengthy and complex process.Eventually, the Franks in Northern France were assimilated by the general Gallo-Roman population, and took over their dialects (which became French), whereas the Franks in the Low Countries retained their language, which would evolve into Dutch.The current Dutch-French language border has (with the exception of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais in France and Brussels and the surrounding municipalities in Belgium) remained virtually identical ever since, and could be seen as marking the furthest pale of gallicization among the Franks.Eventually, in 358, the Salian Franks, one of the three main subdivisions among the Frankish alliance and founded a number of kingdoms, eventually culminating in the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne.However, the population make-up of the Frankish Empire, or even early Frankish kingdoms such as Neustria and Austrasia, was not dominated by Franks.For Dutch colonial history, see the article on the Dutch Empire.