The Introduction traces the historiographical context of the scholarship on late medieval urban political conflicts and revolt, and outlines the book’s interpretative framework. Much previous scholarship has approached this subject from a perspective which has privileged the role of states in shaping the political order. This book suggests that urban political conflicts are best understood from within a framework of analysis that views cities as polycentric arenas in which a multiplicity of political units existed. Because of their densely concentrated relatively large and middle-sized cities, Northern and Central Italy as well as the Southern Low Countries offer themselves for an analysis within such an interpretative framework. Although both regions followed distinct historical trajectories, it is suggested that differences should not be over-emphasized. The chapter then explains the selection of case studies, which broadly reflect this diversity of urban experiences, and ends with an outline of the book’s structure.
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