Christian D. Liddy

in Contesting the City

Published in print August 2017 | ISBN: 9780198705208
Published online August 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191774270 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Medieval European History


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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)
  • Social and Cultural History


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The exercise of political power in late medieval English towns was predicated upon the representation, management, and control of public opinion. This chapter explains why public opinion mattered so much to town rulers; how they worked to shape opinion through communication; and the results. Official communication was instrumental in the politicization of urban citizens. The practices of official secrecy and public proclamation were not inherently contradictory, but conflict flowed from the political process. The secrecy surrounding the practices of civic government provoked ordinary citizens to demand more accountability from town rulers, while citizens, who were accustomed to hear news and information circulated by civic magistrates, were able to use what they knew to challenge authority.

Keywords: public opinion; speech; rumour; gossip; proclamation; crafts; secrecy; publicity

Chapter.  22629 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; Social and Cultural History

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