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date: 20 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Already in the early modern period, urban elites defined the city as a place of civilization and cultural progress in stark opposition to the brute nature and barbarism associated with the countryside. To what extent is it possible to generalize about the differences in material surroundings and daily life between city and country? Are these differences, where they exist, the result of different attitudes and behaviour with regard to consumption? These questions raise the issue of the relationship between home consumption and the degree to which households were integrated into the market, but they point also to the consumption choices and consumer preferences that can be seen in the probate inventories of material goods owned by urban and rural populations. In the contemporary imagination, crowded cities are opposed to a spacious countryside. In reality, dwelling was more complex in early modern Europe. This article compares home, possessions, and diet in city and country in Western Europe between 1600 and 1800, and considers urban and rural dress as well as food consumption in town and country.

Keywords: city, country, Western Europe, consumption, households, possessions, diet, food, consumer preferences, dress

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