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date: 15 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines an important but relatively neglected dimension of the civil wars. This is urban citizenship: the political culture of burgesses, freemen and citizens who belonged to and participated in the incorporated urban communities of early modern England. The first section traces the medieval antecedents of this culture and its ‘renaissance’ in the decades before 1640. The next section then suggests a model for understanding the political importance of urban citizenship during the 1640s. It points to citizenship as a field of conflict within towns and cities, whereby civic resources and institutions were contested and controlled by warring groups and parties. And it suggests that the winners of these contests secured corporate powers and material resources that played a crucial part in the larger conflagration.

Keywords: citizen, freeman, burgess, freedom, citizenship, corporatism, society, aristocracy, democracy, urban

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