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Title: Political culture and urban space in early Tudor London
Author: Minson, Stuart James
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines political culture in London, 1500–1550, by looking at different forms of political communication between the civic government and the city’s inhabitants, and at how these acts were situated within the urban environment. Based on the records of the civic government, the body of the work is divided into two halves addressing those acts conducted by the authorities – proclamations, processions, public punishments – and those directed towards the civic government by others, such as petitions, libels, and seditious talk. The study of these acts reveals two important things: first, that they were not only pragmatic attempts to communicate information, but also performances designed either to construct or contest particular images of authority; secondly, that these performances were spatially structured and that the urban environment was an integral aspect of the city’s political culture. It is then demonstrated that, just as political communication was inherently performative and spatial, so the urban environment was itself a medium of political communication. These observations highlight the importance of political communication to an understanding of the city’s political culture as depicted in the historiography of early modern London. At the same time, recent scholarship on the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries has identified an increasingly distinctive culture in towns typified by attitudes to political authority as communal and contingent, and to social identity as performative and self-fashioned. In London in particular, historians have pointed to a radical transformation in the city’s political culture in reaction to dramatic urban growth after 1550. The spatial aspect of this, however, has been neglected. It is argued here that the inherently political nature of urban space and its communicative potential, already in existence, was integral to changing urban values and part of what made rapid change in London after 1550 a politically traumatic and transformative process.
Supervisor: Archer, Ian W. Sponsor: Clarendon Fund (University of Oxford) ; Lincoln College (University of Oxford)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Early Modern Britain and Europe ; Urban Studies ; political communication ; urban environment ; civic government ; cities and towns ; early modern