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Metropolis and Hinterland? A Comment on the Role of Rural Economy and Society in the Urban Heart of the Medieval Low Countries

Authors:

Tim Soens ,

University of Antwerp, BE
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Eline Van Onacker,

University of Antwerp, BE
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Kristof Dombrecht

University of Ghent, BE
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Abstract

Urbanity was a distinguishing feature of the medieval Low Countries, but even in its most urbanised core a majority of the population continued to live outside the city walls. In his new and encompassing synthesis of the history of the Low Countries in the later Middle Ages, Wim Blockmans emphasises the fundamental intertwining of urban and rural societies in this region, but also the existing historiographical gap between urban and rural historians.

 

This contribution pleads for a reconsideration of the impact of urbanisation and urbanity on rural society as a whole, exemplified for instance, by the role of urban demand as a driving force in the rural economy or by the spread of an ‘urban-modelled’ civic life beyond the city walls. Although every village community was in one way or another connected to the urban world, villages were not entirely shaped by the latter and striking regional differences in both economic development, social cohesion and political organisation persisted well beyond the medieval period. In order to explain these differences the endogenous dynamics of rural societies have to be taken into account.

 

This review is part of the discussion forum 'Four Golden Ages' (Wim Blockmans).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.8076
How to Cite: Soens, T., Onacker, E.V. and Dombrecht, K., 2012. Metropolis and Hinterland? A Comment on the Role of Rural Economy and Society in the Urban Heart of the Medieval Low Countries. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 127(2), pp.82–88. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.8076
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Published on 25 Jun 2012.

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