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Family, lineage and dynasty in the late medieval city : re-thinking the English evidence.

Liddy, C.D. (2020) 'Family, lineage and dynasty in the late medieval city : re-thinking the English evidence.', Urban history., 47 (4). pp. 648-670.


Ever since the publication in 1948 of Sylvia Thrupp's seminal book, The Merchant Class of Medieval London, successive generations of historians of English cities have advanced two central claims about the distinctiveness of the English urban landscape. First, ‘urban dynasties’ in late medieval England very rarely survived beyond two or three generations. Secondly, their weakness was a ‘peculiarly English’ phenomenon and a fundamental difference between English and continental towns. The article explores the historiographical significance of this thesis, the strength of which rests upon its explanatory role within a much wider narrative of English exceptionalism. It argues that the thesis has implications for the study of cities in continental Europe and, finally, it suggests that the English evidence might reveal a much more interesting picture of elite reproduction, when we think more critically and comparatively about how urban elites conceptualized ‘lineage’.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:This article has been published in a revised form in Urban History This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © Cambridge University Press.
Date accepted:30 June 2019
Date deposited:12 July 2019
Date of first online publication:02 September 2019
Date first made open access:26 July 2019

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