This chapter underlines the deep continuities in urban political thought between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. It emphasizes the status of English towns as relatively autonomous, self-governing entities, and places them within a continental urban landscape. While debate about citizenship was persistent, it was at its most intense between the later fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The reasons lay primarily in the changed economic conditions of English towns. Civic elites tried to redefine citizenship. However, citizens spoke back, and they did so aggressively. Town officials helped to provoke the very antagonism that they feared. Urban citizenship remained the battleground of town politics at the end of the Middle Ages, and beyond.
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