Abstract

Throughout the later Middle Ages, English towns continued to augment both their legal privileges and the physical spaces in which they exercised them. Urban officials struggled to define civic identity as distinct from the rural, noble, and ecclesiastical power that surrounded them. Four case studies from Exeter, Shrewsbury, Norwich, and York allow in-depth explorations to be made of the ways in which towns defined physical and juridical space through lawsuits. The disputes and their pursuit before the law show clearly how urban space impacted territorial, legal, and ethnic identity in late medieval society.

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