The Medieval English Towns site explores the urban sector of England as it was during the Middle Ages aspects of the history of cities, boroughs, market towns, and their communities with particular, but by no means exclusive, reference to East Anglia and to social, economic, and political history. A growing selection of primary documents (translated into English) relevant to medieval English urban history is included.
The image above is an edited version of a monochrome line drawing by Mary Houston, based on a colour illustration in the Luttrell Psalter, commissioned ca.1325 by a Lincolnshire knight. Although the medieval artist's intent was to portray Constantinople, sight unseen, the end-product resembles instead a generalized representation of an English town of the period: churches, houses, taverns and market square, all surrounded by defensive walls; he may have conjured up mental pictures of Stamford or Lincoln when executing the illumination. But most medieval depictions of towns and cities should be understood primarily as iconographic rather than documentary, a distinction perhaps less significant to medieval than to modern viewers.
Problems of definition |
Continuity or creation? |
Wiks, burhs, and ports
Planned/planted towns | Growth of self-government | Urban economy | Urban society
Sources of knowledge | Further reading
A study of market network growth in four counties of medieval England
A selection of primary documents, in modern English translation, illustrating aspects of urban society.
THE MEN BEHIND THE MASQUE:
Office-holding in East Anglian boroughs, 1272-1460
An in-depth study of the character of government in six medieval towns
|Browse the glossary by clicking on that link, or choose a term from the click-down list and hit the "Find" button|
|Created: August 29, 1998. Last update: February 5, 2021||© Stephen Alsford, 1998-2021|