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Reassessing Power and Governance in Late Medieval Cities: Institutions and the Cursus Honorum

Colson, Justin (2020) 'Reassessing Power and Governance in Late Medieval Cities: Institutions and the Cursus Honorum.' In: Hulme, Tom and Gunn, Simon, (eds.) New Approaches to Governance and Rule in Urban Europe Since 1500. Routledge. ISBN 9780367462185, 0367462184

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Interpretations of medieval cities have long been characterised by a focus upon their political independence, but also upon their oligarchic political structures in which power, in the form of civic office-holding, and wealth went hand in hand. This chapter attempts to move beyond this structural approach by considering urban power in late medieval cities in a broader sense. The chapter offers a more complex and nuanced picture of power inside cities by considering institutional officeholding in civic administration and guilds alongside broader characteristics such as social capital. Examples are drawn primarily from late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century London, with comparisons between urban political systems across northern Europe. A case study of the trials and tribulations of one London merchant’s career highlights the intersections between personal and kin networks, guild membership, independent commercial relationships, and use of the law as aspects of power in the late fifteenth-century city. While there was clearly a relatively significant degree of correlation between these characteristics, considering connections amongst the elite of cities in a relational perspective highlights the ambiguities and complexities inherent in late medieval urban power.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2020 11:41
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2021 02:00

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