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Contesting the City: The Politics of Citizenship in English Towns, 1250 - 1530
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Contesting the City: The Politics of Citizenship in English Towns, 1250 - 1530 (Hardback)

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Synopsis

The political narrative of late medieval English towns is often reduced to the story of the gradual intensification of oligarchy, in which power was exercised and projected by an ever smaller ruling group over an increasingly subservient urban population. Contesting the City takes its inspiration not from English historiography, but from a more dynamic continental scholarship on towns in the southern Low Countries, Germany, and France. Its premise is that scholarly debate about urban oligarchy has obscured contemporary debate about urban citizenship. It identifies from the records of English towns a tradition of urban citizenship, which did not draw upon the intellectual legacy of classical models of the 'citizen'. This was a vernacular citizenship, which was not peculiar to England, but which was present elsewhere in late medieval Europe. It was a citizenship that was defined and created through action. There were multiple, and divergent, ideas about citizenship, which encouraged townspeople to make demands, to assert rights, and to resist authority.

This volume exploits the rich archival sources of the five major towns in England - Bristol, Coventry, London, Norwich, and York - in order to present a new picture of town government and urban politics over three centuries. The power of urban governors was much more precarious than historians have imagined. Urban oligarchy could never prevail - whether ideologically or in practice - when there was never a single, fixed meaning of the citizen.

History & PoliticsHistory: specific events & topicsSocial & cultural historyHistory & PoliticsPolitics & governmentPolitical structure & processesHistory & PoliticsRegional & national historyEuropean historyBritish & Irish historyPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesSocial groupsUrban communities Publisher: Oxford University Press Publication Date: 07/09/2017 ISBN-13: 9780198705208  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Christian D. Liddy has taught Medieval History at the University of Durham since 2002. His previous books are War, Politics and Finance in Late Medieval English Towns: Bristol, York and the Crown, 13501400 and The Bishopric of Durham in the Late Middle Ages: Lordship, Community and the Cult of St Cuthbert. He was the academic curator of Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt, a major exhibition that was held in Durham in 2015 on the 800th anniversary of the charter and that explored the thin line between the citizen and the rebel.

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