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date: 25 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

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

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