Medieval Europe

Marc Boone

in The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199589531
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Medieval Europe

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This article charts the growth and development of medieval European cities from their origins in late antiquity, taking note of the different periods of town foundation and the factors influencing them. It describes the functions of cities during the golden era of urban growth in the high Middle Ages, and discusses the late medieval crisis and changes affecting towns. Attention is given to the development of municipal communalism, which has often been seen as distinctive for the European medieval city. The final section looks at how this urban ideology evolved and spread. The chapter highlights the mutual influence of demographic, economic, and political variables that resulted in a vibrant and resilient urban landscape, sustaining a drive towards a first ‘modernity’.

Keywords: ancient cities; urbanization; Middle Ages; medieval urban Europe; urban life; municipal communalism

Article.  8525 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History

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