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The Creation of a CommunityThe City of Wells in the Middle Ages$
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David Gary Shaw

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198204015

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198204015.001.0001

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Conclusion: The Complexity of Small Things

Conclusion: The Complexity of Small Things

(p.286) Conclusion: The Complexity of Small Things
The Creation of a Community


Oxford University Press

Although Wells was a town of, at best, medium size throughout the Middle Ages, it was a surprisingly complex place and yet it easily kept its identity, because of the continuation of institutions such as the cathedral and the Borough Community. It may well be that the sort of volatility that is of the nature of towns actually contributes to the tenacity with which such groups reinforce and strengthen their corporate bodies. Community may thrive most where the instability of the membership is most acute. In a town such as Wells, where demographic and economic realities produced a largely transient population and where two local authorities vied for influence, the signs of the collectivity may well have loomed even larger. Thus, the official mentality of the leaders of the town was one which fostered the importance of unity, tradition, solidarity, and the connection of surrogate brotherhood. Social complexity helped to father social and cultural unity.

Keywords:   Middle Ages, Wells, cathedral, Borough Community, towns, membership, population, social complexity, cultural unity

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