English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages

By A. Abram | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
CHARACTERISTICS OF TOWN LIFE

A STUDY of town life in the Middle Ages brings us into contact with one of the most interesting phases of social history, and reveals the manners and modes of thought of that class which is still the backbone of the nation. A small number of towns, founded by Edward I, were free from the beginning, but the majority were hampered in the early stages of their growth by services due to manorial lords. By degrees they shook off these disabilities, and in the later Middle Ages they possessed extensive powers of self-government: a few of them even had their own mints. They were treated with consideration and respect by the Crown: when Henry VII concluded a commercial treaty with Burgundy, he sent the document to all the chief towns in England, so that the mayors might affix the civic seals. The loans so frequently granted by towns to the king afford us a measure of their wealth, and also suggest one of the causes of their growing importance. The absorption of the nobles in warfare was another circumstance which favoured their development. With the single exception of the Cinque Ports, English towns did not form confederations like many of the German and Italian cities, but

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English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xiii
  • Abbreviations Used in The References xv
  • Chapter I Social Classes 1
  • Chapter II Life Amongst the Aristocracy 9
  • Chapter III Characteristics of Town Life 18
  • Chapter IV The Position of Women 31
  • Chapter V The Church and the Nation 46
  • Chapter VI Some Aspects of Monastic Life 62
  • Chapter VII Business Life 80
  • Chapter VIII The Unemployed 95
  • Chapter IX Aliens in England 103
  • Chapter X Family Life 113
  • Chapter XI "Mete and Drinke" 134
  • Chapter XII The Mirror of Fashion 152
  • Chapter XIII Houses 173
  • Chapter XIV Public Health 190
  • Chapter XV Education 204
  • Chapter XVI Amusements 230
  • Chapter XVII Travelling 248
  • Chapter XVIII National Character 260
  • Appendix Authorities 284
  • Index 337
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