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Contesting the CityThe Politics of Citizenship in English Towns, 1250 - 1530$
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Christian D. Liddy

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198705208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198705208.001.0001

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(p.51) 3 Space
Contesting the City

Christian D. Liddy

Oxford University Press

Urban liberties—the privileges and responsibilities linked to citizenship—were understood spatially. This chapter argues that urban politics were spatial politics. Space was not only the terrain upon which wider political battles were fought, but the object of contestation in its own right. The chapter identifies an idea of public space, in which ordinary citizens were anxious about and sensitive to its proper use. Spatial politics in towns were specifically about boundaries. Townspeople conceived a connection between three seemingly separate practices: encroachment upon streets and lanes; the segregation of religious houses within ecclesiastical closes; and the enclosure of common lands. In the course of their disputes, townspeople learned to become citizens.

Keywords:   public space, streets, precincts, enclosure, land

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