Urban government
in Towns in medieval England
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This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on urban government. The rhetoric of urban government emphasised the ideal of unity under the crown: several town councils claimed that their respective city was 'the king's chamber'. The assumptions behind medieval government were far from any modern principle of democracy. The underlying principle of citizenship was that full rights to participate in the economic opportunities of urban life carried a responsibility to share in its regulation through office-holding and to bear its costs by contribution to civic taxes. Monarchs under financial duress were the more willing to delegate powers for a financial return. No civic corporation under the aegis of the medieval English monarchy was allowed to forget that it exercised delegated authority on suffrance. The county towns, as an elite class of regional centres was defined by about 1100, would always be seen from the point of view of royal government as means for the expression and assertion of central authority.

Towns in medieval England

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