Christian Liddy, Contesting the City: The Politics of Citizenship in English Towns, 1250-1530 (Oxford, 2017).
Few interested in the history of English—and indeed, European—medieval towns will find Christian Liddy’s book anything but indispensable. Towards the end of this work he sets out that his “research has not been driven by a pathological need to find conflict” (206); he has, however, certainly found lots of it. The central argument to this book is that citizenship was both “the major fault line within urban society”—and therefore of significant value to those who held it—as well as a “fluid and contestable category of ideas and practices”—and thus a source of persistent tensions within English medieval towns (21, 1). Through chapters focusing on citizenship, space, elections, visual and oral communication (“silence was the sound of harmony,” 150), and written communication, Liddy successfully argues that these spheres were not just places or media in and through which conflict and disagreement happened; they were themselves objects of contestation in English medieval towns.
14th June 2019