This chapter introduces the variety of towns found in England and the Netherlands: towns large and small, centres of industry, trade, and administration; booming like Antwerp or in crisis like Coventry; governed by a tight oligarchy or with wide popular participation. In general, towns in the Netherlands were larger, more politically powerful, and more confrontational in their relationship with princely power than those in England. In England these numbered five large towns: Canterbury, Exeter, Norwich, Salisbury, and York, together with the smaller Beverley, Hull, and Rye. In the Netherlands, all were large, but they were spread geographically from Valenciennes in Hainaut and Douai in Walloon Flanders to Haarlem and Leiden in Holland, from Antwerp in the west of Brabant to 's-Hertogenbosch in the east.
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