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Urban Revolt, Citizenship and Town Politics

Liddy, Christian D.



Patrick Lantschner

Maarten Prak


How should we understand the politics of the pre-modern European town? One way in which we might try to answer this open-ended question is to narrow its terms: did urban politics have its own dynamics, or did it embody wider historical forces? Some scholars, such as the British historical sociologist Philip Abrams, have argued that the town was not a unit of analysis in its own right, but a reflection of society. The argument of this chapter is that, politically at least, the town was an analytical entity. Urban politics had its own areas of tension, sources of contention and methods of adjustment and resolution to handle discontent. The issues disputed, and fought over, in towns crystallised around practices of urban oligarchy and urban citizenship. The chapter concludes, however, with the suggestion that we need to bridge the gap that still exists between the social and political histories of pre-modern towns and to move beyond a paradigm of urban politics confined to what seems axiomatically and unquestionably political. In extending the parameters of town politics, we can better accommodate, and explain, the peculiarities of the urban space.


Liddy, C. D. (in press). Urban Revolt, Citizenship and Town Politics. In P. Lantschner, & M. Prak (Eds.), Cambridge Urban History of Europe, Volume II: Medieval and Early Modern. Cambridge University Press

Acceptance Date Jun 22, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 22, 2023
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Book Title Cambridge Urban History of Europe, Volume II: Medieval and Early Modern
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