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The making of towns, the making of polities: Towns and lords in late medieval Europe

Liddy, Christian

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Abstract

The relationship between towns and lords was fundamental both to the making of towns and to the making of polities in the late Middle Ages. The European literature on state growth has led historians to focus on the role of towns in historicizing narratives of state formation and national exceptionalism. These different narratives have depended on urban typologies that emphasize the importance of the self-governing town at the expense of the town that operated under conditions of lordship. Yet the relationship between towns and lords was an essential, and inescapable, aspect of urban life.

The experiences of the English town of Walsall, in the historic county of Staffordshire, are set within a European context. Walsall’s small size made it typical of the majority of urban centres in late medieval Europe. In an enduring pattern, the late medieval town was a site of continuing political experimentation, and urban development necessitated lordship. The complex entanglements between towns and lords also shaped polities. The article makes a case for the comparability of local political landscapes in different parts of Europe.

Citation

Liddy, C. (2024). The making of towns, the making of polities: Towns and lords in late medieval Europe. Past & Present: A Journal of Historical Studies, https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtad030

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 18, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 29, 2024
Publication Date Mar 29, 2024
Deposit Date Sep 19, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 23, 2024
Journal Past & Present: A Journal of Historical Studies
Print ISSN 0031-2746
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtad030
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1742830

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