Late medieval European cities were teeming with groups which engaged in collective political action. This chapter distinguishes between different types of such action groups, and discusses how they operated within the polycentric order of their cities. Many action groups crystallized over long periods of time around corporations such as guilds or similar jurisdictional bodies, which offered channels for the negotiation of conflict. Factions and parties were themselves long-standing action groups which were larger in size and developed their own mechanisms to dominate urban politics. Coalitions, by contrast, were short-lived and volatile political associations, but their success often depended on their ability to tap the resources of existing political units. Unlike other action groups which could rely on established practices of conflict, coalitions were most likely to engage in revolt and urban warfare.
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