IXth International Conference on Urban History

August 27-30, 2008

Lyon France
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 Session description

Public services and urban politics in European cities, 14th to 18th centuries

During the late middle ages and the early modern era the practices of local policy-making changed in accordance with the major transformations that society underwent in the economic, political, military, institutional, social and religious sphere. Although religious institutions and corporations of civilians (as guilds or neighbourhoods) maintained their significance in structuring local societies, urban governments gained influence over various services to urban populations, as for example poor relief, market regulation, defence, education, infrastructure, justice or the provision of public safety. In this session scholars from various European regions are invited to assess if and how responsibilities of local governments changed throughout the early modern period. What was the balance between the public duties and the private interest of members of the local government in facilitating public services? Did these increased responsibilities of local political elites and civil servants alter their opportunities or strategies to amplify their social capital? Did administrative procedures to facilitate the various civil services to growing populations change too? And what was the financial basis of the intensification of public provisions? New insights will be added to our understanding of urban politics, the social-political strategies and opportunities of local elites and the significance of local governance for broader layers of the urban populations by addressing this wide range of questions in a European comparative perspective.

Session conveners:

  • Jelle Haemers
  • Manon van der Heijden
  • Griet Vermeesch

Session type: Main

Classification: MA/EM - Middle Ages to Early Modern


A targeted public. ‘Public services’ in fifteenth-century Ghent and Bruges.

Author(s): Haemers, Jelle ; Ryckbosch, Wouter 

Changes in medical administration of emergency: local practices of surgery in Paris and London, 1750-1800

Author(s): Rabier, Christelle 

Commonwealth or private profit?

Author(s): Braekevelt, Jonas 

Conflict and consensus: the allocations of public services in the Netherlands, 1500-1800

Author(s): van der Heijden, Manon 

Entre promenades et jardins publics: les loisirs parisiens et londoniens au XVIIIe siècle

Author(s): Turcot, Laurent 

La distribution de l’eau dans les villes médiévales françaises (XIIIe-XVIe siècles). Service public ou service au public?


Le système annonaire à Florence: de la ville-état à l'état territorial

Author(s): Pult, Anna Maria 

Police and Poor Relief in Nantes during the French Religious Wars 1558-1589

Author(s): Tingle, Elizabeth 

Public services and urban management in Lions, 17th-18th centuries

Author(s): Zeller, Olivier 

Reforming relief. Changes in urban provisions for the poor in the Northern and Southern Netherlands (c. 1500-1800)

Author(s): van Nederveen Meerkerk, Elise ; Vermeesch, Griet