Tensions and violence
in Towns in medieval England
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This chapter contains an introduction and a selection of translated and annotated texts on tensions an violence in medieval towns. Economic growth raised the stakes, leading to differentiation of wealth and status and encouraging increased competition for control of taxation and access to markets. During the long thirteenth century, as the medieval European economy expanded to its limits, a series of clashes over municipal jurisdiction sprang from a clear economic motivation. The university environment generated in peculiarly concentrated form a widely encountered tendency of young men in towns to congregate socially, to drink, and on occasion to prove their developing masculinity in acts of collective violence. As the medieval town was defined by the diversity of its component elements, so it was condemned to the strains of tension and to periodic violence. Most recorded incidents had their origins in domestic arguments, generational conflicts, tensions in the workplace or the perceived corruption of justices or tax officials, each of which was fostered by the multiple inequalities of urban society.

Towns in medieval England

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