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Title: Town, crown, and urban system : the position of towns in the English polity, 1413-71
Author: Hartrich, Eliza
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 5159
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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In this thesis, a collective urban sector-consisting, in various different guises, of civic governments, urban merchants, and townspeople-is presented as a vital and distinctive component of later medieval English political society. The dynamics of this urban political sector are reconstructed through the use of a modified version of the 'urban systems' approach found in historical geography and economic history, positing that towns are defined by their evolving relationship with one another. Drawing from the municipal records of twenty-two towns, this thesis charts the composition of the later medieval English 'urban system' and the manner in which urban groups belonging to this 'system' participated in a broader national political sphere over four chronological periods-1413-35, 1435-50, 1450-61, and 1461-71. In 1413-35, the highly authoritative and institutionalised governments of Henry V and the child Henry VI fostered vertical relationships between the Crown and a variety of individual civic governments, leading both national and urban political actors to operate within a shared political culture, but not necessarily encouraging inter-urban political communication. This would change in the periods that followed, as the absence of strong royal authority after 1435 renewed the strength of lateral mercantile networks and facilitated the re-emergence of a semi-autonomous inter-urban political community, which saw little reason to participate in the civil wars of the early 1450s that now seemed divorced from its own interests. In the 1460s, however, the financially extractive policies of Edward IV once again gave civic governments and ordinary townspeople a greater stake in royal government, which was reflected in the high level of urban participation in the dynastic conflicts of 1469-71. The developments occurring in these four phases illustrate both the interdependence of urban and national politics in the later medieval period, and the mutability of their relationship with one another.
Supervisor: Watts, John Sponsor: Clarendon Fund (University of Oxford) ; Institute of Historical Research
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Britain and Europe ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; History ; urban history ; Wars of the Roses ; political culture ; networks