Heather Swanson sets out to explain the reasons for the explosion of town foundation throughout the British Isles from the twelfth century onward and charts the subsequent development of towns to the early sixteenth century. The growth of urban economies up to the early fourteenth century and the contentious issue of whether towns declined in the later middle ages are central concerns of the book. The comparative approach adopted by the author illuminates the diverging experiences of towns in the four different countries of the British Isles, but also sets them within the overall context of a shared value system where social cohesion was provided by the church.
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