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At the centre of the project is a handbook describing the multifaceted melange, the integrative opposition, and the coexistence of city and ruler, of urban bourgeoisie and courtly society in the pre-modern era. The focus is on the residential cities, in which the particular spatial, personal, and structural proximity of the social forms of city and rulership allows this melange to be analysed and systematised in an exemplary and concise manner. However, the focus is not on the imperial cities that have been favoured by scholars up to the present day, which - especially in the case of the larger ones - had their own legal and political scope for action, or on the supra-regional trading centres such as Nuremberg, Augsburg or Leipzig, Cologne, Lübeck or Hamburg, nor, as a rule, on the most populous metropolises of the respective period. Based on the residential cities and central manorial towns, the focus is predominantly on smaller urban centres, which demographically had at a best medium weight and in some cases did not go beyond ‘town villages’, for which, apart from their primary function in the regional or local distribution of goods, participation in supra-regional trade and commerce was the exception, and which, despite all the differences in individual cases, remained directly involved in the development of the feudal rule and pre-modern statehood. Yet, it was precisely these small towns that, due to their sheer quantity, had a lasting impact on the image of the urban landscapes of Central Europe. The handbook project, therefore, focuses on forms of urbanity in the pre-modern period that have not yet been adequately researched, despite increased activities since the early 1990s.


The handbook is divided into three sections: