Wednesday 24 March 2021
16.30 - 18.30
An Urban Governance in the Peripheries of Atlantic Europe: a Social Comparison between the Baltic, the Irish and the Atlantic Iberian Towns in Late Middle Ages
P.N. van Eyckhof 2, 003
Roman Czaja :
Between the Oligarchy and Common Good - Urban Communities and Authorities in Medieval Prussia and Livonia in the Middle Ages
Roman Czaja, Jesus Angel Solorzano
Eduard Juncosa Bonet
The paper will present the research on the formation processes of ruling groups in large towns of Prussia and Livonia in the Middle Ages. In these towns, the uniform formal and legal principles for the election of new members to the town councils, shaped until the beginning of the 14th ... (Show more)
The paper will present the research on the formation processes of ruling groups in large towns of Prussia and Livonia in the Middle Ages. In these towns, the uniform formal and legal principles for the election of new members to the town councils, shaped until the beginning of the 14th c., were based on the co-optation, which was independent of the influence of the territorial authority. Thus, the groups of people enjoying direct access to power in these towns was limited mainly to wealthy merchants and brewers. Despite the formal and legal principles conducive to the development of the oligarchic structure of the ruling group in the towns under study, the tendency to create an exclusive group of power is relatively weak. This phenomenon will be presented in the paper by means of the statistical method. The analysis of the composition of town councils (Danzig, Thorn, Elbing, Königsberg, Braunsberg, Riga, Tallinn) in the period from the beginning of the 14th to the end of the 15th c. should indicate the dynamics of the inflow of new people (from outside of the circle of families represented in the council). The image of the ruling group resulting from statistical analysis will be confronted with the external and internal perception of town councils. Initial analysis of primary sources indicates that the circle of people in power was perceived as a closed oligarchic group. Also, the self-image, which was supposed to serve primarily to legitimize the ruling position of the council, presented the social exclusivism (e.g. ancient origins) of families whose members belonged to the ruling groups. The author, bearing in mind the divergent images of the ruling groups, which result from the juxtaposition of the statistical analysis and research on the perception and representation of councils, puts forward the thesis that the most important condition determining social mobility within the power group was the social acceptance resulting from the social potential of homines novi. Persons elected to the town councils were connected with the power elite by means of various social networks, barely shown in the primary sources. (Show less)
Anna Maleszka :
Commonalty, Municipal Authorities and the Concept of Common Good in the Anglo-Norman Towns of Ireland
As the image of social relations influences the actual nature of relations, similarly the image of the commonalty and ruling groups in the medieval towns had an impact on the relations between them. Hence, in the paper I would like to focus on the issue of (self-)presentation of the commonalty ... (Show more)
As the image of social relations influences the actual nature of relations, similarly the image of the commonalty and ruling groups in the medieval towns had an impact on the relations between them. Hence, in the paper I would like to focus on the issue of (self-)presentation of the commonalty and authorities of the Anglo-Norman chartered towns; in particular on the way they presented themselves or were presented in the normative sources, i.e. documents, acts, correspondence and by-laws. The majority of studies of self-presentation is focused on the analysis of mechanisms of self-presentation of towns authorities and promotion of a given social order by means of rituals, such as town ceremonies, iconographical materials and narrative works, such as chronicles. However, the methodological inspiration provided by the research on the normalisation of social life and social disciplining allows to use also normative sources in studies of auto-presentation of social and ruling groups. The preserved primary sources allow us for analysing only selected, larger towns, which developed before the Anglo-Norman conquest as either Hiberno-Norse towns (Dublin, Waterford, Cork) or Irish towns (Kilkenny). Two basic issues will be analysed: 1) the forms of inscriptions and intitulations employed in correspondence, as well as documents issued in cooperation with territorial rulers, other towns, religious institutions and other internal and external entities; and 2) ideals of common consent and common good as means of auto-presentation used in urban legislation, acts and documents created by towns for their own use.
The municipal normative acts and documents extensively referred to the ideas of common good and common decision-making of all citizens, framing the laws and regulations as adopted unanimously. Although such ideas indeed stood for the essence of the model of municipal community that developed in medieval Europe, the real mechanism of making laws and decision-making could have differed considerably from the ideal. In the case of Dublin, for instance, it is the mayor and municipal council that were responsible for drafting documents and numerous regulations and decisions in the town. Nevertheless, the ideas of common good and common decision-making were still indicated in all kinds of documents. It is possible that the reason for this was the need for legitimisation of power taken over by municipal councils with the use of the apparent ongoing attractiveness of such ideas. As the mechanisms of oligarchisation and similar aspects of self-presentation of town councils, authorities, commonalties, etc. can be observed in the chartered towns of other frontier regions, such as Prussia and Livonia, such studies require also a comparative approach. (Show less)
Bruno Marconi da Costa :
"Per trabalho de seus corpos" - Craftsmen's Petitions in Medieval Lisbon
The city of Lisbon underwent profound socioeconomic transformations after the "Reconquista" process in the Portuguese kingdom. Since the mid thirteenth century, the urban environment grew quickly, undergoing a sharp increase in its productive activities and leaving behind its previous role of serving as a military square in the fight ... (Show more)
The city of Lisbon underwent profound socioeconomic transformations after the "Reconquista" process in the Portuguese kingdom. Since the mid thirteenth century, the urban environment grew quickly, undergoing a sharp increase in its productive activities and leaving behind its previous role of serving as a military square in the fight against the muslims. In turn, it became the most important city of the kingdom under the king's domain. Gerard Pradalié calls this process the "Turning of the 1250's".
With these structural changes, together with population growth and its newfound primacy in the network of portuguese cities, new social agents started to gradually occupy positions of power in the county. The council assembly, which was previously monopolized by urban knights that owned the surrounding lands, began to incorporate merchants as a part of its directorial elite. Other typically urban groups were also able to ascend in politics: Craftsmen, aided by their growing productive activities, also began to seek out more power in portuguese society, not only through urban management but also through negotiations with the king.
This multiplication of social agents in decision making positions did not happen without tension. There were conflicts, specially between the new political-economic elite and the craftsmen that originated from the popular and middle-class groups. At the turn of the XIII century, these urban workers were gradually sidelined from the city's positions of power and decision making, thanks to direct royal interference in the council's own autonomy. They regained their institutional roles only at the end of the XIV century, during the dynastic crisis that placed D. João de Avis on the portuguese throne, supported by the same popular groups of Lisbon.
The objective of this paper is to analyze the main instrument of negotiation available to the city's neighbours when dealing with the crown: their petitions. These petitions were a form of fluid, efficient communication between the central and peripheral administrations. In the words of Jesús Solórzano, it was a means to express the discontent, the protest, the movements, the discord, the opinions and necessities of a particular community. They are the voices of the común, the result of a series of negotiations and collective accords that made up the vertical, from the bottom up, instruments of communication, as well as horizontal forms, inside the community of neighbours.
The objects of our analysis are two petitions presented by the city of Lisbon with direct input from the craftsmen. The first is from the year of 1285, presented before king D. Dinis and which represented the aggregation of the urban social body, in which they claimed reparations for the errors of the king's father, D. Afonso III. The second one is from the year of 1384, presented before the then Defender and Keeper of the realm D. João de Avis (future king), in which a series of specific claims are made by the craftsmen of Lisbon, in return for their support in the Master's cause in his conflict against the queen D. Leonor Teles, after the death of D. Fernando. When we compare both petitions, we are able to identify one of the main manifestations of the repertoire of collective actions available to the craftsmen of Lisbon, enabling us to better understand their political culture and the power relations that made up the city's administration. (Show less)
Jesus Angel Solorzano, Jesus A. De Ines Serrano :
The Political Confrontation in Time of Elections: Conflict and Urban Government in the Townports of the Bay of Biscay in the Late Middle Ages
This paper focuses on the analysis of the ideas that moved the participation of the oligarchies and the commons in the political life of the townports of northern Atlantic Spain during the 15th century. For thirty years the study of urban oligarchies, structured in factions and lineages, and the commons ... (Show more)
This paper focuses on the analysis of the ideas that moved the participation of the oligarchies and the commons in the political life of the townports of northern Atlantic Spain during the 15th century. For thirty years the study of urban oligarchies, structured in factions and lineages, and the commons has undergone a profound renovation in the sense that the analysis of medieval revolts and factional struggles, focused on the violent actions of social groups (physical and verbal violence, destruction, armed struggles ...), has gone to the analysis of their ideological bases. Pressure on the adversary, defamation, letters of petitions and the creation of a political discourse were some of the non-violent actions of the groups with the aim of forcing a change political or to resist a violent action of the adversary. In the paper, firstly, we will show the ideological bases of the different social groups; and, secondly, the processes of electoral reformation and the political confrontation in the main cities of the Bay of Biscay in the 15th century. (Show less)