chapter  6
26 Pages

The Literary Image of the City: From the Middle Ages until the End of the Nineteenth Century

WithHERMAN PLEIJ, LIA VAN GEMERT AND MARITA MATHIJSEN

It is surprising how often, and how fi ercely, city, citizen, merchant and urban society were attacked in medieval times. References to the Bible and to classical literature were considered proof that this new form of life must be the most earthly temptation humanity had yet been called upon to face. None but the devil could be behind this patent eff ort to undermine for good God’s creation by calling into being a fourth class of people-the city denizen. In narrow streets, crammed on top of each other, and anonymous, the elusive city dweller managed to hide himself from all observation or correction. And that is how money, usury, whoring and greed could not but become rampant there.1