chapter  1
24 Pages

Cities and solidarities. Urban communities in medieval and early modern Europe

ByJUSTIN COLSON AND ARIE VAN STEENSEL

In their earliest forms, human communities were structured by kinship; transcending these boundaries was inextricably linked with the emergence of institutions, networks and beliefs, binding communities together in ties of solidarity. Regardless of whether cooperation or confl ict was the norm in human interactions, communities and solidarities did not come easily, but required an active participation among those involved, and their creative imagination. The structures and practices of communities and their dynamism over time has been a topic of extensive historical and sociological research. Amongst the immense diversity of all historical experiences, urban communities speak most to the imagination: they are places of exceptionally complex human interactions, bringing together large numbers of people in a condensed space over prolonged periods of time.