Saturday, 14 April 2012

The City-State in Europe, 1000-1600

The City-State in Europe, 1000-1600 by Tom Scott is an extremely fascinating book that examines an interesting part of European history, that of the independent or semi-independent city-state.

Curiously enough although the city-states were an important part of the development of the political fabric of Europe (some might argue that echoes of these institutions still reverberate through the fabric of society down to modern times) no detailed comparison of the city-state in the medieval period of European history was undertaken within the last 100 years.

Whilst it is true research work was undertaken (and quite detailed work, too) on their role as harbingers of the modern state, their great cultural achievements and the like, little regard was paid to what might be described as the 'bigger picture', as it were.

For example, their desires for territorial expansion, how they dealt with neighbours and other city-states and so forth.

In his book Tom Scott looks beyond the normal. He looks at lesser known city-states, he examines city-states of Switzerland and looks deeply into the imperial cities of Germany.

He examines how the city-states fitted in with the rest of the regions and nations in which they existed and how they co-existed with other city states.

He has views on how the city-states worked and how they developed through time which tend to disagree with some other experts. But his analysis is extremely compelling. 

He shows that rivalries between city-states could become fraught and how alliances came and went, sometimes over periods of time, sometimes rather rapidly.

Anyone who is a student of medieval European history needs a copy of this thought-provoking and compelling book. It is academically rigorous  and extremely well researched but it is written in a very approachable style.

It is published by Oxford University Press in hardback the ISBN is 978-0-19-927460-4. It is available form the That's Books bookshop.

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