Lesson 3: THE URBAN WORLD: The Emergence of Cities


Lesson 3: THE URBAN WORLD: The Emergence of Cities



The Emergence of Cities


The past is prologue.



The Ecological Complex

Political Economy Models

First Settlements

          Agricultural Revolution

          Population Expansion


Interactions of Population, Organization,

  Environment, and Technology

City Populations

Evolution in Social Organization

          Division of Labor

          Kingship and Social Class

Technological and Social Evolution

Urban Revolution

Survival of the City

The Hellenic City

          Social Invention

          Physical Design and Planning


          Diffusion of People and Ideas


         Size and Number of Cities

         Housing and Planning


         Life and Leisure

European Urbanization until the Industrial City

          The Medieval Feudal System

          Town Revival

          Characteristics of Towns


          Renaissance Cities

Industrial Cities

          Technological Improvements and the Industrial Revolution

          The Second Urban Revolution



This chapter begins at the beginning of urban life. It outlines the dramatic growth from the first tentative agricultural villages to the massive industrial cities of the last century. In brief, what is being discussed is the rise of civilization. Our goal is not to memorize a series of dates and places, but rather to develop some understanding of the process of urban development—that is, how and why cities developed. Thus, read this chapter to better understand patterns rather than to remember specific facts. We start with archaeological, anthropological, and historical material, not because there is anything sacred about beginnings as such, but because having some understanding of the origin and function of cities helps us to better understand contemporary cities and how and why they got to be what they are today.


One model that helps us to understand change is the ecological complex. The ecological complex is an ecosystem framework used to explain broad urban change. An ecosystem is defined as a natural unit in which there is an interaction of an environmental and a biotic system—that is, a community together with its habitat. At the upper extreme, the whole earth is a world ecosystem. The ecological framework has been criticized by political economy scholars for not giving sufficient attention to deliberate changes planned by economic and political elites. This is a valid criticism when discussing industrial and postindustrial cities. However, for viewing early pre-industrial cities, an ecological framework is a useful tool.

In basic terms, the ecological complex identifies the relationship between four concepts or classes of variables: population, organization, environment, and technology. (Some add a fifth category of “social.”) These variables are frequently referred to by the acronym “POET.”

               Population refers not only to the number of people but also to growth or contraction through either migration or natural increase. An example of the first is the growth of Houston from 1975 to the present through in-migration from Frostbelt cities. Population also refers to the composition of the population by variables such as age, sex, and race.

                Organization, or social structure, is the way urban populations are organized according to social stratification, the political system, and the economic system. For example, one might want to examine the effect of Las Vegas’s pro-growth political system and related tax system in encouraging population growth through immigration.

                Environment refers to the natural environment (e.g., Houston’s absence of snow, or Vancouver’s mild maritime climate) and the built environment of streets, parks, and buildings.

               Technology refers to tools, inventions, ideas, and techniques that directly impact urban growth and form. Examples in Dallas’s case are the private automobile and air conditioning. Air conditioning made the  sunbelt not only prosperous but possible. Without air conditioning the states of Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Texas would still be the relative economic backwaters they were 60 years ago. Humid Houston, the control center for the world’s gas and oil industry, would be unthinkable without air conditioning. Similarly, Dallas would never have emerged as a business center, and Austin’s rise as a computer technology center would have been impossible. (Microchip manufacturing requires a constant 72 degrees and 35 percent humidity.) It should be kept in mind that how technology is used, and who has access to it, has social and political ramifications.

The ecological complex is not a theory, but it does provide a simplified way of reminding us of the interrelated properties of urban settings and how each class of variables is related to and has implications for the others.’ Each of the four variables is causally interdependent depending on the way a problem is stated, each may serve either as an independent (or thing-explaining) or a dependent (thing-to-be explained) variable. In sociological research organization is commonly viewed as the dependent variable to be influenced by the other three independent variables, but a more sophisticated. view of organization sees it as reciprocally related to the other elements of the ecological complex.

For example, if we are looking at the destruction of the Brazilian rain forests, we can view rapid population growth and availability of modern technology as “causing” massive environmental degradation and destruction of the earth’s ozone layer. On the other hand, one could view the environmental variable as “causing” the social organizational response of the international environmental movement.

A major advantage of the ecological complex as a conceptual scheme is its simplicity, since economy of explanation is a basic scientific goal. For example, using the example of smog in Los Angeles, one can see that as transportation technology changed, the environment, organization, and population of the city also changed. In Los Angeles a favorable natural environment led to large-scale increases in population, which resulted in organizational problems (civic and governmental) and technological changes (freeways and factories). These in turn led to environmental changes (smog), which resulted in organizational changes (new pollution laws), which in turn resulted in technological changes (antipollution devices on automobiles and an expensive subway system).

This example illustrates how sociologists can use the conceptual scheme of the ecological complex to clarify significant sets of variables when studying urban growth patterns. This can be of considerable help in enlightening policy options. Note, for example, the dominant importance of environmental factors in the first cities and how this, in time, is modified by technological and social inventions. The role of technology, for instance, becomes increasingly important in the 19th century (railroads, telephones, elevators, and high-rise buildings).

A problem with the ecological complex is that the categories themselves are somewhat arbitrary, and the boundaries between them are not always precise. The ecological complex is best seen as simply a tool to help us better understand the interaction patterns within urban systems. It is not intended to be a fully developed theory of urbanization.

Perhaps the greatest limitation of the original ecological complex is that it subsumes cultural values under the variable of organization. A strong case can be made that “culture” should be a separate reference variable in its own right. Thus as previously noted, some would add an “S” for social to make the acronym POETS. Another limitation is that the ecological complex as such does not explain how, when, to what degree, or under what circumstances the categories of variables interact. Nonetheless, the ecological complex remains a useful explanatory tool for organizing large bodies of material and showing relationships. It is less useful when addressing specific questions requiring conceptual precision.



The ecological model has been challenged by a variety of political economy models. Conflict based paradigms or models are commonly referred to as political economy models. Originally these were neo-Marxist in nature, but

some contemporary models have moved beyond Marxism. [3] Today, both ecological and political economy models are undergoing considerable change.

Political economy models differ in specifics, but they all stress that urban growth is largely a consequence of capitalist economic systems of capital accumulation, conflict between classes, and economic exploitation of the powerless by the rich and powerful. The capitalist mode of production and capital accumulation are seen as being manipulated by real estate speculators and business elites for their private profit. The assumption is that “societateraction is dominated by antagonistic social relationships,[4] “social development is unstable in societies with antagonistic owner relationships “and “power inequality is a basic element in societal relationships.”

Critical theorists criticize ecological models as being ahistorical and mechanistic, and stress that social conflict is an inevitable consequence of capitalistic political economies. Thus, they discount the ecological model’s reliance on transportation and communication technologies in explaining urban—suburban development. Rather, they place greater emphasis on the deliberate and conscious manipulation by real estate and government interests in order to promote growth and profits. Suburbanization, for example, is not viewed as resulting from individual choices made possible by access to outer land by streetcar and automobile, but rather as the deliberate decision of economic elites to disinvest in the city and manipulate suburban real estate markets. [5]

The strength of political economy models is their attention to the influence of the economic elites on political decision making and the role played by real estate speculators. The weakness is the assumption that local government acts largely at the bidding of economic elites, and thus citizens’ wishes have little impact on growth patterns or on local government. Both ecological and political economy models will be used throughout this text.



Our knowledge of the origin and development of the first human settlements, and our understanding of the goals, hopes, and fears of those who lived within them, must forever remain tentative. Because the first towns emerged before the invention of writing about 7500 B.C.E., we must depend for our knowledge on the research of archaeologists. Understandably historians, sociologists, and other scholars sometimes differ in their interpretations of the limited archaeological and historical data. Lewis Mumford has stated the problem aptly:

Five thousand years of urban history and perhaps as many of proto-urban history are spread over a few score of only partly exposed sites. The great urban landmarks Ur, Nippur, Uruk,                                   Thebes, Heliopolis, Assur, Nineveh, Babylon, cover a span of three thousand years whose vast                                emptiness we cannot hope to fill with a handful of monuments and a few hundred pages                                         of written records. [6]

This chapter, which outlines the growth of urban settlements, must necessarily be based in part on scholarly speculation as to what happened before the historical era. Fortunately, our interest is not so much in an exact chronology of historical events as in the patterns and process of development.

Agricultural Revolution 

Hunting-and-Gathering Societies. It is generally believed that before the urban revolution’s first settlements could take place, an agricultural revolution was necessary. [7] Nomadic hunting- and-gathering bands could not accumulate, store, and transport more goods than they could carry with them. Hunting-and-gathering groups were small, ranging from 25 to at most 50 persons. Hunting-and-gathering societies were equalitarian, lacked private property, and had no fixed leadership. Since the group was mobile, parents could pass on little in goods to their children. However, there was not a total absence of culture. The hunter-gatherers of Japan’s Jomon culture produced pottery with a cord pattern in the 10th millennium B.C.E. [8]              

Settled Agriculture. Settled agriculture changed everything. Some groups gained enough knowledge of the seasons and the cycle of growth to forsake constant nomadic life in favor of permanent settlement in one location. The Neolithic period is characterized by this change from gathering food to producing it. There is fairly clear evidence that a transformation from a specialized food-collecting culture to a culture where grains were cultivated occurred in the Middle East around 8000 B.C.E. The population of the world at this dawn of agriculture was something on the order of 5 million. [9]

Only when the agricultural system became capable of producing a surplus was it possible to withdraw some labor from food production and apply it to the production of other goods.” A permanent place of settlement led to both population growth and rudimentary social stratification since not all land was equal. However, while a surplus was essential to the emergence of towns, it was not essential that the surplus come from agriculture. Early hamlets from India to the Baltic area based their cultures on the use of shellfish and fish. Within these Mesolithic hamlets possibly were seen the earliest domestic animals, such as pigs, ducks, geese, and our oldest companion, the dog. Mumford suggests that the practice of reproducing food plants through plant cuttings—as with the date palm, the olive, the fig, and the grape—probably derives from Mesolithic culture.”

Early settlements had only a rudimentary division of labor. The existence of some form of permanent social organization, more than just numbers of persons, is what separates more informally organized villages from formally organized towns. Jericho—which some argue was the first “city,” with some 600 people as early as 8000 B.C.E.—had a fairly complex architectural construction.’ This suggests the inhabitants had sufficient civic organization and division of labor to build defensive walls and towers in a period when they had barely begun to domesticate grains. Inside the town walls they built round houses of sun-dried bricks. Further north in what is now Turkey, permanent villages emerged about the same time. However, the first true cities are generally thought to have begun in the “Fertile Crescent” of Mesopotamia around 4000 B.C.E.


Population Expansion

The first population explosion—an increase in tribe size to the point where hunting and gathering could no longer provide adequate food—further encouraged fixed settlements. This was most likely to occur in fertile locations where land, water, and climate favored intensive cultivation of food. Archaeologists suggest that population growth, in fact, forced the invention of agriculture. [13] Hunting, gathering, and primitive plant cultivation simply could not support the growing population.

Since the plow did not yet exist—it was not invented until sometime in the 6th century B.C.E.—farmers of this period used a form of slash-and-burn agriculture. [14] This method required cutting down what you could and burning off the rest before planting—an inefficient form of farming, but one with a long history. It was even used by the American pioneers who first crossed the Appalachian Mountains into the new lands of Kentucky and Ohio. It was still being used in isolated areas of the Appalachians in the first decades of the 20th century. The first farmers in ancient times soon discovered that slash-and-burn farming quickly depleted the soil and forced them to migrate— and probably spread their knowledge by means of cultural diffusion.

The consequences of these developments were momentous: with grain cultivation, a surplus could be accumulated and people could plan for the future. One of the early permanent neolithic farming communities—Jarmo, in the Kurdistan area of Iraq—was inhabited between 7000 and 6500 B.C.E. It has been calculated that approximately 150 people lived in Jarmo, and archaeological evidence indicates a population density of 27 people per square mile (about the same as the population density today in that area). [15] Soil erosion, deforestation and 10,000 years of human warfare have offset the technological advantages of the intervening centuries.

Village farming communities like Jarmo had stabilized by about 5500 B.C.E. and spread over alluvial plains of river valleys like that of the Tigris- Euphrates. A similar process took place in the great river valleys of the Nile, the Indus, and the Yellow. The invention of agriculture was quite possibly an independent development in China and was certainly independent in the New World.

Although China’s cities evolved somewhat after those of the Middle East, the latest archaeological evidence suggests the concept of the city probably was not borrowed from Mesopotamia but developed independently. [16] Certainly by the time of the Shang dynasty (1600- 1100 B.C.E.) China had cities that apparently were laid out according to a plan, complete The 15th-century high-Andean Inca City of Machu Picchu had an extensive canal system channeling fresh water to 16 fountains, as well as a well-thought-out drainage system.

In Mesoamerica, cities were not a product of cultural diffusion, but rather a separate invention. Mayan cities in Central America developed somewhat later than those in Mesopotamia or China. New research confirms that the city of Carat in Peru existed in 2600 B.C.E., a thousand years earlier than cities in the Americas were thought to exist.[17]

The Mayans had a major civilization and large cities dating from roughly 500 B.C.E. Since these cities had no walls, it was thought until roughly 20 years ago that the Mayans were peaceful. They weren’t. Decoding of Mayan writing indicates that Mayan religious rituals and wars were remarkably bloody. There is dispute as to whether the Central American Mayan sites were true cities with resident populations or rather huge ceremonial sites. Most contemporary scholars incline toward seeing them as true cities. In 2000, one of the richest Mayan cities and royal palaces yet discovered was found buried deep and virtually intact in a neglected part of the Guatemalan rain forest [18]

The city, named Cancuen, or “place of serpents,” after the name of its dynasty, rose to power about 300 C.E. and continued beyond 600 C.E. Because of constant warfare, none of the other Mayan dynasties lasted so long. The


Box 2.1 The Spanish on First Viewing Mexico City

The plunder-seeking Spanish conquistadors under the command of Cortez were overcome by the magnificence of Mexico City. It was the legendary City of Gold they had sought—and that Columbus and others had failed to find. The city was conquered in 1521 by a combination of guile and dishonesty—combined with the fact that most of the city’s population was seriously ill or dying from European-introduced disease. The following excerpt is from The True History of the Conquest of New Spain written in 1568 by Bernal Diaz del Castillo: Gazing on such wonderful sights, we did not know what to say or whether what appeared before us was real, for on one side of the land there were great cities and in the lake ever so many more, and the lake itself was crowded with canoes, and in the causeway there were many bridges at intervals, and we did not even number four hundred soldiers.



The civilizations of Mesoamerica were physically isolated from those of the Middle East and Asia and thus had to invent independently. In pre-Mayan Mesoamerica, elaborate systems for irrigating and raising corn were developed. with ceremonial buildings and palaces, as well as dwellings. Mayan era of greatest city building was between 600 and 800 C.E.

Between 800 and 900, most of the great cities of Central America were abandoned, for reasons that are still debated and unclear. [19] It appears that populations increased while resources declined due to over-farming and drought. Cities were abandoned and taken over by the jungle. Population growth combined with constant warfare may have brought environmental collapse. [20]

At its peak, Teotihuacan, in central Mexico, built by the Mayans, numbered perhaps 150,000 persons or more. By the time the Spanish invaders arrived in 1521, both Mayan society and its cities had collapsed. However, their successors, the Aztecs, had built the city of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), which dazzled Cortez and his Spanish troops. No such cities existed north of the Rio Grande.



The relationships among population, organization, environment, and technology are clearer in their consequences than in their timing. The creation of an agricultural surplus made permanent settlements possible. Agricultural villages could support up to twenty-five persons per square mile, a dramatic improvement over the maximum of three to five persons per square mile found in hunting-and-gathering societies. Technology had spurred population growth. Stable yields meant that larger numbers of people could be sustained in a relatively compact space. The establishment of sedentary agricultural villages with growing populations increased the pressure for more intensive agriculture and complex patterns of organization. Agriculture in the river valleys required at least small-scale irrigation systems, something not necessary in the highlands. Rudimentary social organization and specialization began to develop; periodic flooding made it necessary for village farmers to band together to create a system of irrigation canals and repair damage done by floods. The existence of irrigation systems also led to the development of systems of control and the emergence of more detailed social stratification within the permanent settlements.

Relatively permanent settlements in one place also allowed the structure of the family itself to change. In a hunting-and-gathering society, the only legacy parents could pass on to their progeny was their physical strength and knowledge of basic skills. Agriculturalists, though, can also pass on land to their children, and all land is not equal. Social stratification emerged over generations, with some children born into prosperity and others into poverty.

Extended family forms can also more easily emerge under sedentary conditions. Patriarchal family systems, such as those found in the Bible, can have major economic as well as sexual advantages for those in charge, since extra wives mean extra hands to tend animals and cultivate fields. More importantly, many wives meant many sons—sons to work the fields, help protect what one has from the raiding of others, provide for one in old age, make offerings to the gods at one’s grave, and carry one’s lineage forward. The last was particularly important in many early societies. For example, in the Old Testament the greatest gift God could bestow on Abraham was not wealth or fame or everlasting life, but that his descendants would number more than the stars in the sky and grains of sand.

Environmentally, those located on rivers had advantages not only in terms of soil fertility, but also for transportation and trade. Particularly environmentally blessed were those settlements in Mesopotamia and the Nile River valley that could exploit the rich soil of the alluvial riverbeds. The very name “Mesopotamia,” which refers to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Iraq, means “land between rivers.”

By the middle of the fourth millennium B.C.E. the economy of the Nile valley in Egypt had shifted once and for all from a combination of farming and food gathering to a reliance on agriculture. In this great river valley, two and sometimes three crops a year were possible because the annual floods brought rich silt to replace the exhausted soil. (The Aswan Dam now blocks the annual floods.) To the dependable crops of wheat and barley was added the cultivation of the date palm. This was a great improvement since the palm provided more than simple food; from it were obtained wood, roofing, matting, wine, and fiber for rope. Grapes were also first crushed and fermented in the Middle East about 3000 B.C.E.

The use of rivers for transportation further encouraged the aggregation of population, for now it was relatively easy to gather food at a few centers. Thus, in the valleys of the Nile, the Tigris–Euphrates, the Indus, and the Yellow a population surplus developed, which in turn permitted the rise of the first cities (see Figure 2.1). By the third century B.C.E., Egyptian peasants from the fertile river floodplain could produce approximately three times the food they needed. The city served as a “central place” where goods and services could be exchanged.


By contemporary standards, the largest early cities were little more than small towns. However, in their own day they must have been looked upon with the same awe with which 19th-century immigrants viewed New York, for these first cities were 10 times the size of the Neolithic villages that had previously been the largest settlements. Babylon, with its hanging gardens, one of the wonders of the ancient world, embraced a physical area of, roughly, only 3.2 square miles. The city of Ur, located at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, was the largest city in Mesopotamia. With all its canals, temples, and harbors, it occupied only 220 acres. [21] Ur was estimated to have contained 24,000 persons; other towns ranged in population from 2,000 to 20,000 inhabitants. [22] Such cities, however, remained urban islands in the midst of rural seas.

Hawley estimates that although these cities were large for their time, they probably represented no more than 3 or 4 percent of all the people within the various localities.” Even Athens at its peak had only 612 acres within its walls—an area smaller than 1 square mile; ancient Antioch was roughly half this size. Carthage at its peak was 712 acres. Of all the ancient cities, only imperial Rome exceeded an area of 5 square miles. Even the biggest places before the Roman period could scarcely have exceeded 200,000 inhabitants, since from 50 to 90 farmers were required to support one person in a city.[24] In an agricultural world, the size of cities was limited by how much surplus could be produced and what technology was available to transport it.



Early cities were important, not because of their size, but because they encouraged innovations in social organization. Even though few in number, the urban elite were the principal carriers of the all-important cultural and intellectual values of the civilization. Needless to say, the city also held economic and political sway over the more numerous country dwellers. The Arab philosopher–sociologist Ibn Khaldun, writing in the 14th century, pointed out that the concentration of economic power and the proceeds of taxation in the cities led to a profound difference between the economic pattern of the city and that of the country. The concentration of governmental and educational functions in the city also stimulated new demands that affected the patterns of production and supply.


Division of Labor

The earliest cities began to evolve a social organization immensely more complex than that found in the Neolithic village. The slight surplus of food permitted the emergence of a rudimentary division of labor. The city thus differed from a large village not only because it had more people but also because they did different things. The consequence was hierarchy and stratification. Surplus permitted inequality.[25] The early city was also an administrative religious center.

Archaeological records indicate that the earliest public buildings were temples, suggesting that specialized priests were the first to be released from direct subsistence functions. Early Sumerian cities were basically theocracies—that is, they were ruled by priests. That the priests also assumed the role of economic administrators is indicated by ration or wage lists found in places where temples were located. [26] In Egypt the temples were near the granaries for the community surplus. This surplus could be used to carry a community through a period of famine.

The biblical story of Joseph—who was sold by his jealous brothers into slavery in Egypt, only to become advisor to the Pharaoh and to predict seven good years of harvest followed by seven lean years of famine—points out the relative control the advanced Egyptians had over their environment. Even if the nomadic Israelites had received Joseph’s warning, they would have been unable to profit from it— they lacked the transportation and storage technology of the more urban Egyptians. Using granaries the Egyptians had learned how to move a surplus through time as well as through space. Long-term planning—whether to avoid famines, construct temples, or build pyramids—was possible only where a surplus was ensured and storage was available.

Kingship and Social Class

Warrior-leaders originally served only during times of external threat. Eventually, those chosen as short-term leaders during periods of war came to be retained even during periods of peace. As the process evolved in China in the fifth century B.C.E.:

Perhaps whole settlements sometimes found it was easier to set up as warriors, and let the people                around them work for them, than to labor in the fields. The chiefs and their groups of warriors, no                doubt, provided the farmers with “protection” whether they wanted it or not, and in return for that                service they took a share of the peasant’s crop. [27]


It is hardly necessary to add that the size of the warrior’s share of the peasant’s crop was fixed by the warrior, not the peasant. The growth of military establishments did contribute, though, to technological innovations— metallurgy for weapons, chariots for battle, and more efficient ships.

It was but a step from a warrior class to kingship and the founding of dynasties with permanent hereditary royalty. The gradual shifting of the central focus from temple to palace was accompanied by the growth of social and economic stratification. Artists working in precious metals became regular attachments to palace life. Records of sales of land indicate that even among farmers there were considerable inequalities in the ownership of productive land. As a result, social differences grew. Some few members of each new generation were born with marked social and economic advantages over the others. If they couldn’t afford the luxuries of palace life, they nonetheless lived in considerable comfort.

In China, specialization led to the replacement of hereditary lords with centrally appointed mandarins selected by examination. This bureaucratic system of social organization survived more than 3,000 years until its abolishment in 1905.

Archaeologically, the emergence of urban social classes can be seen clearly in the increasing disparity in the richness of grave offerings.” The tombs of royalty are richly furnished with ornaments and weapons of gold and precious metals; those of others, with copper vessels; while the majority have only pottery vessels or nothing at all. The building of burial pyramids was the ultimate case of monumental graves.



In early cities, technology was spurred on by necessity. We are just discovering the elaborate water collection and distribution systems of the ancient Mayan culture of Central America. The system allowed the Mayan elite to develop large cities in areas that had long dry spells. The failure to maintain the water system may have led to the civilization’s collapse about 900 C.E. [29]

Cities created new technological demands. The military required armor, weapons, and chariots, and the court demanded ever more ornaments and other luxuries. This demand created a constant market for nonagricultural commodities, and the result was the establishment of a class of full-time artisans and craft workers. The near-isolation of earlier periods was now replaced with trade over long distances, which brought not only new goods but also new ideas.

The first city was far more than an enlarged village—it was a clear break with the past, a whole new social system. It was a social revolution involving the evolution of a whole new set of social institutions. Unlike the agricultural revolution that preceded it, this urban revolution was far more than a basic change in subsistence. It was “preeminently a social process, an expression more of change in man’s interaction with his fellows than in his interaction with his environment.[30] The urban revolution created its own environment. Inventions that have made large settlements possible have been due to the city itself— for example, writing, accounting, bronze, the solar calendar, bureaucracy, and the beginning of science. Ever since Mesopotamia, the city as a social institution has been shaping human life.[31]



A number of years ago V. Gordon Childe listed 10 features that, he said, define the “urban revolution”— that is, features that set cities apart from earlier forms of human settlement. The features are:

  1. Permanent settlement in dense aggregations,
  2. Non-agriculturalists engaging in specialized functions,
  3. Taxation and capital accumulation,
  4. Monumental public buildings,
  5. A ruling class,
  6. The technique of writing,
  7. The acquisition of predictive sciences – arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy,
  8. Artistic expression,
  9. Trade for vital materials,
  10. The replacement of kinship by residence as the basis for membership in the community. [32]


We now know that all 10 are not necessary for cities. For example, monumental urban places developed in Mesoamerica without the wheel, the raising of animals, the plow, or the use of metals. (Actually, the Mayan civilization did have the wheel, but for some reason used it only on children’s toys.) They did, however, have other advantages; probably the most significant was the knowledge of how to use irrigation to cultivate large surpluses of domesticated maize (corn). The Mayans also had made major discoveries in mathematics, including the separate invention of the concept of zero. They were accurate astronomers and had an exact calendar; both skills were used for religious purposes but had secular consequences (e.g., indicating when to plant). Social  organizations, culture, and technology were interrelated. Lists, such as Childe’s, are most useful in indicating what we have come to accept as the general characteristics of cities.



The stable location of the city was not an unmixed blessing. Cities had to be equipped to withstand a siege, since the earliest cities were vulnerable to periodic attacks. [33] The Bible, for instance, devotes considerable attention to the successes of the nomadic Israelites in taking and pillaging the cities of their more advanced enemies. The Biblical description of the fall of the Canaanite city of Jericho tells us that:

The People went out into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and ass,  with the edge of the sword— and they burnt the city with fire and all that was therein. (Joshua 2:20-24).


That “Joshua ‘fit’ the battle of Jericho . . . and the walls came tumbling down” is known to all those who have heard the stirring spiritual, even if they have not read the Old Testament. While the walls Joshua is said to have miraculously brought down with trumpet blasts about 1500 B.C.E. have not been located, the remains of other walls dating back to 8000 B.C.E. have been excavated. As with some other long-inhabited ancient sites, the walls had been breached many times—sometimes by invaders, sometimes fires, sometimes earthquakes. Actually, Joshua’s destroying everything and everyone in the city was shortsighted. By Solomon’s time a more complex social organization had evolved in which subjugated peoples were taxed yearly rather than destroyed.

Within the city walls there also were other threats to the inhabitants, the most dangerous being fires and epidemic diseases. Plagues spread easily in cities. City life was more exciting, but it was not necessarily more secure or healthful than life in the countryside.


THE HELLENIC CITY Environmental factors played a decisive role in early cities. In fact, the history of the city can be considered the story of human attempts, through the use of technology and social organization, to lessen the impact of environmental factors. An example is Athens, widely regarded as the apex of ancient Western urbanism. Not only was the Greek soil thin and rocky and of marginal fertility, but the mountainous hinterland made inland transportation and communication almost impossible. It is estimated that the cost of transporting goods 10 miles from Athens was more than 40 percent of the value of the goods. [34]

But Greece was blessed with fine harbors. Consequently, Athens turned to the sea. A Greek ship could carry 7,000 pounds of grain 65 nautical miles a day, and do it at one-tenth the cost of land transportation. (Storms at sea and pirates, however, often made this an ideal rather than a reality.) There were also technological contributions to Greek prosperity: the use of the lodestone as a basic nautical compass and the development of more seaworthy ships.


Social Invention

The greatest achievement of the Greeks was not in technology but in social organization. The social invention of the polis, or “city-state,” enabled families, phratries (groups of clans), and tribes to organize for mutual aid and protection as citizens of a common state. Because they acknowledged a common mythical ancestry among the gods, different families were able to come together in larger bodies. Citizens were those who could trace their mythical ancestry back to the god or gods responsible for the city and thus could participate in public religious worship. Citizenship and religion were two sides of the same coin.

An Athenian citizen was one who had the right to worship at the temple of Athena, the protector of the city-state of Athens. Citizenship was at its basis a religious status. [35] Socrates’ questioning the existence of the gods thus was considered a grave offense because, by threatening established religion, he was undermining the very basis of citizenship in the city-state. His crime was not heresy but treason. As punishment for such a subversive act, he was forced to drink poison hemlock. The Greeks never devised a system for extending citizenship beyond the city-state to all Greeks. This was to be the achievement of the Romans.

Being a citizen of the city was of supreme importance to the Greeks. When Aristotle wished to characterize humans as social animals, he said that man is by nature a citizen of the city. Thus, to the Greeks, being ostracized— that is, being forbidden to enter into the city was an extremely severe punishment. To be placed beyond the city walls was to be cast out of civilized life. The terms pagan and heathen originally referred to those beyond the city walls; the contemporary adjective urban and the nouns citizen and politics are derived from the Latin terms for the city. As previously noted, the English terms city and civilization are both derived from the Latin civic.


Physical Design and Planning

Physically, the Greek cities were of fairly similar design, a phenomenon that is not surprising given the amount of social borrowing that took place among the various city-states, and the fact that the cities were built with military defense in mind. The major city walls were built around a fortified hill called an acropolis. Major temples were also placed upon the acropolis. The nearby agora, or open space, served as both a meeting place and, in time, a marketplace. All major buildings were located within the city walls. Housing, except for the most privileged, was outside but huddled as close to the protective walls as possible.

In describing the Greek polis, there is a strong tendency to focus on the image of the Athenian Acropolis harmoniously crowned by the perfectly proportioned Parthenon. Separated by seas and centuries, it is perhaps natural for us to accept Pericles’s praise of his fellow Athenians as “lovers of beauty without extravagance and lovers of wisdom without unmanliness.”

Yet it is easy to forget that the “classic” white stone of the Parthenon was originally painted garish colors. Traces of red paint can still be seen millennia later. Below the inner order and harmony of the Parthenon was a sprawling, jumbled town in which streets were no more than dirty, winding, narrow lanes and unburied refuse rotted in the sun. Housing for the masses was squalid and cramped. Although the town planner Hippodamus designed a grid street pattern for Piraeus, the port city of Athens, Athens itself had no such ordered arrangement. Athens was the center of an empire, but little of its genius was given to municipal management.



During its peak, the city of Athens achieved a population of possibly 250,000 including slaves and non-citizens (slaves constituted perhaps one-third of the population). The great sociologist Max Weber put the Greek city states in perspective when he wrote, “The full urbanite of antiquity was a semi-peasant.”[36]

Expansion of Greek cities was limited not only by agricultural technology. There is an advantage in having a population low enough to live off the local food supply.” Also, the ancient Greeks preferred smaller cities. Both Plato and Aristotle believed that good government was directly related to the size of the city. Plato specified that the ideal republic should have exactly 5,040 citizens, since that number would “furnish numbers for war and peace, and for all contracts and dealings, including taxes and divisions of the land.”” Adding non-citizens such as children, slaves, and foreigners into the calculation raises the total population of the city-state to approximately 30,000, or about the size chosen later by Leonardo da Vinci and Ebenezer Howard for their ideal cities. Aristotle informs us that Hippodamus envisioned a city of 10,000 citizens divided into three parts: one of artisans, one of farmers, and one of warriors. The land was likewise to be divided into three parts: one to support the gods, one public to support the warriors defending the state, and one private to support the farm owners.” This illustrates the classic Greek interest in balance.

Aristotle’s views on the ideal size of the city are less specific, although he believed there needed to be limits so inhabitants could know each other’s character and thus properly govern. Aristotle did not think justice should be blind. As he stated it:

A state then only begins to exist when it has attained a population sufficient for a good life in the political  community; it may somewhat exceed this number, but as I was saying there must be a limit. What shoulf  be the limit will be easily ascertained by experience.—If the citizens of a state are to judge and distribute offices according to merit, then they must know each other’s characters: where they do not possess this                knowledge, both the election to offices and the decisions of lawsuits will go wrong.— Clearly then the best limit of the population of a state is the largest number which suffices for the purposes of life and can be taken at a single view. [40]


Diffusion of People and Ideas

Greek city-states kept growth under control by the policy of creating colonies. When a city began growing too large a colony city was established. Between 479 and 431 B.C.E., over 10,000 families migrated from established cities to newer Greek colonial settlements. Colonization both met the needs of empire and provided a safety valve for a chronic population problem. This diffusion of population led in turn to a spread of Greek culture and ideas of government far beyond the Peloponnesus. The military campaigns of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.) also spread Greek culture and led to the establishment of new cities to control the conquered territory (e.g., Alexandria in Egypt).



If Greece represented philosophy and the arts, Rome represented power and technology. The city as a physical entity reached a high point under the Roman Caesars. Not until the 19th century was Europe again to see cities as large as those found within the Roman Empire. Rome itself may have contained 1 million inhabitants at its peak, although an analysis of density figures would make an estimate two-thirds that number seem more reasonable; scholarly estimates vary from a low of 250,000 to a high of 1.6 million. These wide variations are a result of different interpretations of inadequate data. The number given in the total Roman census, for example, jumped from 900,000 in 69 B.C.E. to over 4 million in 28 B.C.E. No one is quite sure what this increase indicates—probably an extension of citizenship, perhaps the counting of women and children, perhaps something else. [41]

Readers should remind themselves that all figures on the size of cities before the 19th century should be taken as estimates rather than empirical census counts. At their most accurate, such figures are formed by multiplying the supposed number of dwelling units in a city at a given period, and then by estimating average family size.


Size and Number of Cities

Expertise in the areas of technology and social organization enabled the Romans to organize, administer, and govern an empire containing several cities of more than 200,000 inhabitants. The population of the Roman Empire exceeded that of all but the largest 20th-century superpowers. According to the historian Edward

Gibbon, “We are informed that when the emperor Claudius [41 to 54 C.E.] exercised the office of censor, he took account of six million nine hundred and forty-five thousand Roman citizens, who with women and children, must have amounted to about twenty million souls. [42] He concludes that there were “about twice as many provincials as there were citizens, of either sex and of every age; and that the slaves were at least equal in number to the free inhabitants of the Roman world. The total amount of this imperfect calculation would rise to about one hundred and twenty million.”” The total world population at this time was roughly 250- 300 million, so Rome controlled over a third of the world’s population.

Italy was said to contain 1,197 cities—however defined—and Spain, according to Pliny, had 360 cities.[43] (Most of these we would consider towns.) North Africa had hundreds of cities, and north of the Alps major cities rose from Vienna to Bordeaux. Even in far-off Britain there were major cities at York, Bath, and London. What made all this possible for hundreds of years was a technology of considerable sophistication and—most importantly— Roman social organization. Wherever the legions conquered, they not only built roads, but also brought Roman law and Roman concepts of government. Rome’s domination resulted in centuries of urban imperialism.


Housing and Planning

“Rome, Goddess of the earth and of its people, without a peer or a second” remains the wonder of the ancient world. Yet despite the emperor Augustus’s proud claim that he found a city of brick and left one of marble, much of the city centuries later was still composed of buildings with wood frames and wood roofs on narrow crowded alleys. Fire was a constant worry, and the disastrous fires of 64 C.E. that some say Nero started left only 4 of the city’s 14 districts intact.

Wealthy Romans lived on Palatine Hill, where the imperial palaces overlooked the Forum with its temples and public buildings and the Coliseum. However, as was the case in Athens, Roman municipal planning was definitely limited in scope. Magnificent though it was, it did not extend beyond the center of the municipality. Once one branched off the main thoroughfare leading to the city gates, there was only a maze of narrow, crooked lanes winding through the squalid tenements that housed the great bulk of the population. Magnificent public squares and public baths were built with public taxes for the more affluent Romans. In time even the Forum became crowded and congested, as the ruins still standing amply testify.

The city was supplied with fresh water through an extensive system of aqueducts. The most important of these, which brought water from the Sabine Hills, was completed in 144 B.C.E. Parts of the aqueducts still stand— testament to the excellence of the engineering and skill of their builders. (However, use of lead pipes in running water into homes gradually poisoned the wealthy with running water.) Rome even had an elaborate sewer system, at least in the better residential areas. It is an unfortunate comment on progress to note that present-day Rome still dumps sewage in the Tiber River. (The beautiful North American city of Victoria similarly dumps its raw sewage into the Pacific.)

In many ways provincial western Roman cities such as Paris, Vienna, Cologne, Mainz, and London exhibited greater civic planning than Rome itself These cities grew out of semi-permanent military encampments and thus took the gridiron shape of the standard Roman camp (the pattern can be seen today on football fields and also is the origin of the city block). The encampments and later the cities were laid out on a rectangular grid pattern with a gate on each side. The center was reserved for the forum, the coliseum, and municipal buildings such as public baths.

In the conquered lands to the east, where there were already Egyptian, Hellenic, and other cities, the Romans simply took them over under Roman jurisdiction. Thus, while eastern cities differed from each other physically as well as politically, the provincial Roman cities of western Europe because of their commonality of origin, were remarkably similar. (for more detail on Hellenic and Roman planning, see Chapter 13: Planning, New Towns, and New Urbanism). The differences between the older eastern and newer western segments of the empire were never resolved, and the empire eventually split into eastern (Byzantine) and western (Roman) sections.



Rome was an exporter not only of goods but also of ideas—such as Roman law, government, and engineering which enabled Rome to control its hinterland. Rome was an importer of necessary goods and, therefore, depended on the hinterland not only for tribute and slaves but for its very life. The city of Rome could feed its population and also import vast quantities of goods other than food because of an unrivaled road network and peaceful routes of sea trade. (The roads were built and the galleys powered largely by slaves.) Some 52,000 miles of well-maintained roads facilitated rapid movement of goods and people. Parts of some of the original roads are still in use today, and the quality of their construction surpasses that of most contemporary highways.

With the elimination of Carthage as a rival, the Mediterranean truly became “Interium,” or a local sea. Foodstuffs for both the civilian population and the legions could be transported easily and inexpensively from the commercial farming areas of Iberia and North Africa. Rome declined when the African grain-producing areas were lost to the Vandals, and barbarians in Germany, Gaul, and England pressed the empire, disrupting vital transportation routes. Without easy transit the decline of Rome was inevitable since Rome lived off its hinterland.


Life and Leisure The prosperity of the Roman Empire during its peak and the leisure it afforded the residents of the capital were imperial indeed. By the second century after Christ, between one-third and one-half of the population were on the dole, and even those who worked (including the third of the population who were slaves) rarely spent more than six hours at their jobs. Moreover, by that period, religious and other holidays had been multiplied by the emperors until the ratio of holidays to workdays was one to one.”

To amuse the population and keep their minds off uprisings against the emperor, chariot races and gladiatorial combats were staged. The scene of the races was the colossal Circus Maximus, which seated 260,000 persons, and gladiatorial fights were staged at the smaller Coliseum. When the emperor Titus inaugurated the Coliseum in 80 C.E., he imported 5,000 lions, elephants, deer, and other animals to be slaughtered in a single day to excite the spectators. The role Christians came to play in these amusements is well known. Our contemporary beliefs about proper civic amusements were not necessarily shared by earlier eras of urbanites.



The dissolution of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E. marked the effective decay of cities in western Europe for a period of 700 years. This is not the place to detail why Rome fell; it is sufficient to note that under the combined impact of the barbarian invasion and internal decay, the empire disintegrated and commerce shrank to a bare minimum. Once proud Roman provincial centers disappeared or declined to the point of insignificance. By the end of the sixth century, war, devastation, plague, and starvation had destroyed the glory that once was Rome.

The city was reduced to a collection of separate villages whose population had taken shelter in the ruins of ancient grandeur and had dug wells to replace the aqueducts. The small population was supported by the pope, rather than by the emperor, from the produce of the papal territory.[45] Nonetheless, while the social and physical city withered and decayed into ruins, the idea and myth of Rome and a Roman Empire remained alive even in the darkest medieval periods, and led eventually in the Renaissance to a new burst of urban activity.

The throttling of Mediterranean trade by the advance of Islam in the seventh century, and the pillaging raids of the Norsemen in the ninth century, did further damage to what remained of European commercial life. In the east, however, cities continued to prosper.

Constantinople, built by the emperor Constantine between 324 and 330 C.E., survived as the capital of the Byzantine Empire until its conquest by the Turks in 1453. It was renamed Istanbul.


The Medieval Feudal System

The preceding pages discussed the development of the Western city through the Roman period. Here particular emphasis is placed on the reemergence of European urban places after the decline of Rome, and on how such cities laid the basis for the cities with which we are all so familiar.

The fall of Rome meant that each locality was isolated from every other and thus had to become self-sufficient in order to survive. Local lords offered peasants in the region protection from outside raiders in return for the virtual slavery—called serfdom of the peasants. Removed from outside influences, local social structures congealed into hereditary hierarchies, with the local lord at the top of the pyramid of social stratification and the serfs at the bottom. [46]

It is important to note that the economic and political base of the feudal system, unlike that of the Roman period, was rural, not urban. Its center was not a city but the rural manor or castle from which the local peasantry could be controlled. Long-range trade all but vanished. The economy was a subsistence agriculture based solely on what was produced in the local area; transportation of goods from one area to another was extremely difficult. Lack of communication, the virtual absence of a commonly accepted currency, and the land-tenure system that bound serfs to the soil all contributed to a narrow inward-looking localism. By the time of Charlemagne (9th century) the cities—or towns—had lost most of their urban functions:

The Carolingians used the ancient cities as places of habitation, as fortified settlements from which to  dominate the surrounding countryside. The surviving physical apparatus of the old town the walls, and buildings, served because it already existed, a convenient legacy of an earlier age. [47]


However, in the few provincial cities that managed to survive with sharply reduced populations Catholic bishops often became the rulers. The Catholic church had based its diocesan boundaries on those of the old Roman cities, and as the empire faded and then collapsed, the bishops came to exercise secular as well as religious power. By the 9th century, caritas had come to be synonymous with these “episcopal cities.” [48] The “episcopal cities” were cities in name only, for they more clearly resembled medieval fortresses than true cities. They had a maximum of 2,000 or 3,000 persons and were frequently smaller. [49]


Town Revival

Cities began to revive, very slowly, in the 11th century. According to Pirenne, most of these new towns were not continuations of ancient cities but new social entities. Originally they were formed as a by-product of the merchant caravans that stopped to trade outside the walls of the medieval “episcopal cities” such as Amiens, Tours, and Cologne. Under the influence of trade the old Roman cities took on new life and slowly became repopulated, while new towns were established. Also, trading groups formed around the military burgs, along seacoasts, on riverbanks, and at the junctions of the natural routes of trade and communication. [50]

Over time the seasonal fairs came to take on a more or less permanent year-round character. By the 13th century merchants had an important role in the growing medieval towns. Revitalized city life was most prominent in Italy when city-states such as Venice established extensive commercial ties with the Byzantine and even the Arab empires. Trade with Constantinople enabled the Venetians to prosper and in time create a mini-empire of their own based upon the skills of their sea captains and the size of their fleets.

Two external factors during the Middle Ages also greatly contributed to the growth of towns elsewhere in Europe: (1) the Crusaders and (2) the overall population growth. A great impetus for the revival of trade came from the medieval religious crusades. The Crusaders returned from the urban Byzantine Empire with newly developed tastes for the consumer goods and luxuries of the east. The crusading movement provided an excellent opportunity for the town entrepreneurs to put their commercial instincts into practice. [51] Sociologically, the marketplace made merchants negotiators responding to market conditions.

Trading activities and increased political stability led to a more constant food supply, which in turn resulted in lower death rates and improvement in the rate of natural increase of the population. Technological innovations also contributed to population growth. The moldboard plow, which had been used in Roman times, was rediscovered. This heavier plow could turn the tight soils of northern Europe, and it came to be commonly used. The substitution of three-field rotation for the two-field system also allowed three plantings a year rather than two. The effect of these agricultural improvements was to double production and permit stable growth.

England in the time of William the Conqueror (1066) had a population of approximately 1.8 million. Three hundred years later the population had increased to roughly 2.7 million. Some of this increased population migrated to the small but growing towns. Without such increases, the growth of towns would hardly have been possible.

While the feudal order was basically rural, certain elements of the medieval legal and social system indirectly encouraged the growth of towns. Feudal lords were forbidden by custom to sell their lands, but lords badly in need of new funds could sell charters for new towns within their lands. Also, by encouraging the growth of older towns, such lords could increase their annual rents. Towns were frequently able to purchase or bargain for various rights, such as the right to hold a regular market, the right to coin money and establish weights and measures, the right of citizens to be tried in their own courts, and—most importantly—the right to bear arms. [52]

Over time cities became more or less autonomous and self-governing. City charters, in fact, bestowed the right of citizenship upon those living within the urban walls. As a result, medieval cities attracted the most skilled and the most ambitious of the rural population. In a sense the towns did not grow out of the feudal social order but in opposition to it. English common law developed in this way.


Characteristics of Towns

Medieval cities were quite small by contemporary standards, having hardly more inhabitants than present-day towns (Table 2.1). Even during the Renaissance, cities of considerable prominence often had only 10,000 to 30,000 inhabitants. [53] Only Paris, Florence, Venice, and Milan are thought possibly to have reached populations of 100,000. [54] These figures are of course scholarly estimates of past size, rather than counts taken at the time. Thick walls enclosed the medieval city; watchtowers and sometimes even external moats added to its military defense. The main thoroughfares led directly from the outer gates to the source of protection and power—the cathedral or the feudal castle. The religious cathedral dominated the medieval skyline as the skyscraper dominates the contemporary urban skyline.

The magnificent ring boulevards of Vienna and Paris are reminders of the medieval origins of these cities. When the city walls were finally demolished in the later part of the 19th century, the resulting open space was used to construct the now-famous boulevards.

Within the medieval towns or burgs could’ be found a new social class of artisans, weavers, innkeepers, money changers, and metal smiths known as the bourgeoisie. This new class of merchants was in many ways the antithesis of the feudal nobility. They were organized into guilds, and their way of life was characterized by trade and functionally specialized production, not by the ownership of land. The rise of the medieval bourgeoisie undermined the traditional system and prepared the way for further changes, for, as a German phrase put it, “Stadtluft machi Freii (“City air makes one free”) . [55]

What eventually developed was a distinct form, a full urban community. Such communities as defined by the German sociologist Max Weber, were economically based on trading and commercial relations. Each exhibited the following features: (1) a fortification; (2) a market, a court of its own, and at least partial autonomous law; (3) a related form of association; and (4) at least partial political autonomy and self-governance. [56] Weber argues convincingly that such a self-governing urban community could emerge only in the West, where cities had political autonomy and urban residents shared common patterns of association and social status. By the 14th century the growth of town-based commerce was turning Europe toward an urban-centered, profit-oriented economy.



Urban development, however, received a major blow from the physical environment in the 14th century with the outbreak of the plague. The plague was spread from the east by fleas carried by rats on ships. However, even the devastation of the plague could not reverse the long-term growth of cities, although in the short run it wrought havoc to a degree that is difficult to exaggerate. In its first three years alone, from 1348 through 1350, the plague, or “black death,” wiped out at least one-fourth of the population of Europe. Before the year 1400, mortality due to the plague rose to more than one-third of the population of Europe, or 35 million deaths. One scholar of the plague simply says that “it undoubtedly was the worst disaster that has ever befallen mankind.” [57]

Cities, with their congestion, were especially vulnerable. Over half the population of most cities was wiped out. Florence went from 90,000 to 45,000 inhabitants and Siena from 42,000 to 15,000, and Hamburg lost almost two-thirds of its inhabitants. 58 As put by the traditional nursery rhyme:

Ring around a rosie,

Pocket full of posies.

Ashes, ashes we all fall down.


(Rosies were the pox marks the plague made on a victim, and posies were supposed to ward off the plague.) Overall some 35 million Europeans died of the plague.

Since the path of the black death—it began in India and spread to the Middle East and then Europe—followed the major trade routes, the effects were most pronounced in seaports and caravan centers. [59] The blow to the cities was severe, but the effect of the plague on the rural manorial system was fatal. The feudal social structure never really recovered. Those peasants who were not killed by the plague fled to the towns, thus depriving the manors of their essential labor force. Serfs fleeing the plague often found that labor shortages had turned them into contract laborers or even town artisans. Population declines changed the economic structure.

The structure of basic social institutions such as the Catholic Church was also dramatically altered by the Black Death. Many of the senior and most learned clergy perished; those who survived were often more concerned with taking care of themselves than their flocks. While some clergy did far more than their duties, others deserted their parishes when plague threatened. Their participation in the general loose living and immorality of the time contributed to the religious upheavals that swept Europe for the next two centuries and culminated in the Protestant Reformation.

Since the plagues were considered to be the result of the wrath and vengeance of God, some people became fanatically religious, while the majority embraced the philosophy of “Live, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” In the words of one scholar, “Charity grew cold, workers grew arrogant, revenues of Church and State dropped, people everywhere were more self-indulgent and frivolous than ever. [60] Chroniclers stress the lawlessness, depravity, and dissolute behavior of the time. In London, “In one house you might hear them roaring under the pangs of death, in the next tippling, whoring and belching out blasphemies against God. [61] The plague had given the rural-based feudal system a blow from which it never recovered. From this point onward the history of Western civilization was again to be the history of cities and city inhabitants.


Renaissance Cities

By the 16th century, Europe had fully recovered from the plague, and numerous cities, particularly the Italian city-states, had a wealthy patrician class that had the interest, resources, and time to devote to the development and beautification of their cities. Renaissance cities such as Florence embarked on major building programs.

The revival of interest in the classical style and in classical symmetry, perspective, and proportion had a profound effect on the design of both public and private structures. The artistic talents of artists such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were used to beautify the cities; Leonardo also developed proposals for urban planning. Rather than simply building at random, the prosperous city-states hired architects to make planned changes.

The classical effect can be seen in the use of straight streets and regular squares, and particularly in the use of perspective. The early medieval city with its semi-rural nature had aptly symbolized that age. A 16th and 17th-century Renaissance city, such as Florence, symbolized the humanistic ideology of the age and proudly proclaimed its secular urban culture. [62] While the Renaissance city gained ever greater economic and cultural domination over rural areas, it also marked the beginning of the end of the city as a self-governing unit independent of the larger nation-state. During the medieval period, kings and city dwellers had been natural allies, since both wished to subdue the power of the local nobility. In order to cast off the last fetters of feudal restraint, the city burghers supplied the monarch with men and—most importantly—money to fight wars; the monarch in turn granted ever-larger charter powers to the towns.

Once the monarchs had subdued the rural lords, however, they turned their attention to the prosperous towns. Gradually the independent powers of the cities were reduced as they became part of nations in fact as well as in name. The structure of social organization in Europe was changing to the larger geographical unit: the nation-state. The loss of political independence, however, was compensated for by the economic advantages of being part of a nation-state rather than a collection of semi-independent feudal states and chartered cities. National government usually meant better and safer roads and, therefore, easier and cheaper transport of goods and a larger potential market area. Merchants also had the advantages of reasonably unified laws, a common coinage, and standardized measures of weight and volume—all of which today we take for granted. Emergent business classes prospered from the certainty and stability provided by the king’s national government. The capitalist city was coming into existence.


Influences of Technology. The technological developments of gunpowder and the cannon changed the nature of the walled city. The traditional defenses of rampart, bastion, and moat were of limited utility in stopping cannon fire. Cities that hoped to resist the armies of a king had to shift their attention from interior architecture and urban planning to the engineering of fortifications. Only elaborate defensive outworks could stop cannon fire, and so the city unwittingly became the captive of its own defenses. (See the photo of Palma Nova on p. 268.) While one can certainly question the urbanologist Lewis Mumford’s view that the decline of the city as a place of comfortable habitation began with the end of the Middle Ages, it is certainly true that the city of the 17th century was changing.

Unable to grow outward, cities began to expand vertically and fill in open spaces within the city walls. The increased crowding that resulted had a bad effect on both the quality and the length of life. For example, extending the second floor of houses over the street decreased sunlight below; this led to vitamin D deficiency, which caused rickets in children. Filthy living conditions, combined with minimal sanitation and an absence of any knowledge of public health practices, resulted in the rapid spread of contagious diseases and consequently high death rates. As John Graunt’s pioneer research on the London Bills of Mortality demonstrated, 17th-century London actually recorded more deaths than births. Only heavy in-migration from the countryside allowed the city to grow in population rather than decline. As late as 1790 the city of London had three deaths for every two births. [63] Well into the 19th-century mortality rates in the city still exceeded those in rural districts [64] European cities only grew when the possibility of jobs attracted rural in-migrants.


Demographic Transition. Urban growth was closely tied to the growth of the population as a whole, and until about the middle of the 17th century, the population of the world had been growing at a very slow rate: 0.4 percent a year. As a result, by the beginning of the 18th century the world population was roughly 500 million, or double that at the time of Christ. Then momentous changes occurred that resulted in what we call the demographic transition or the demographic revolution. Population growth suddenly spurted in the latter part of the 18th century, not through increases in the birthrate—it was already high—but through declines in the death rate.

Population increases continued into the 20th century. The term demographic transition refers to this transition from a time of high birthrates matched by almost equally high death rates, through a period of declining death rates, to a period where birthrates also begin to decline, and eventually to a period where population stability is reestablished— this time through low birthrates matched by equally low death rates.


Changes in Agriculture. Much of the decline in death rates can be attributed to technological changes in agriculture that ensured both a better and a more reliable food supply. Without such increases in food supply, cities could not grow and expand. As late as the beginning of the 19th century, the produce of nine farms was still required to support one urban family. (Today each American farmer supports approximately 75 other persons.)

At the beginning of the 18th century English agriculture was still primitive. One-quarter of the farmland was left fallow and thus unproductive each year. Pasturelands and water rights were held in common, as were the woods that provided hunting and firewood. Then, within the span of half a century, English agriculture was revolutionized. Jethro Tull published the results of 30 years of research on his estates, and the new ideas were quickly adopted by much of the landed aristocracy. Tull advocated planting certain crops on fallow land to restore nutrients to the earth, thus radically increasing the usable acreage. (Today, we still use the expression “being in clover” to indicate prosperity.) He also recommended deep plowing and a system for foddering animals through the winter. Seeds were now planted in rows rather than through broadcasting into the air.

At the same time it was being discovered that selective breeding of animals was far superior to letting nature take its course. Previously it had been believed that animals could only grow larger by eating more. Striking changes can be seen by comparing the weight of animals at the Smithfield Fair in 1710 and 1795; the average weight of oxen went from 370 pounds to 800 pounds, that of calves from 50 to 150 pounds, and that of sheep from 38 to 80 pounds.

Accompanying these agricultural improvements in England were the notorious Enclosure Acts, which took the village commons from joint ownership and gave them to the lord enjoying ancient title to the land. While disastrous for the local yeomen, the larger enclosures could be worked more efficiently by the lords who were using the new agricultural knowledge. The result was an increase in both the quality and the quantity of the food supply. Death rates began to go down, and populations expanded rapidly.

The abandonment of traditional subsistence agriculture and the orientation to a market economy meant that rationality was replacing tradition, and contract was taking the place of custom. The calculation implicit in the land enclosure acts destroyed small peasant landholders but made it possible for London and other cities to be ensured foodstuffs and thus to grow as manufacturing and commercial centers. The movement of agriculture surpluses was facilitated greatly by the construction of new toll roads, which were built in great numbers after 1745.


BOX 2.2 Preindustrial and Industrial Cities: A Comparison

A comparison of the social structures of preindustrial and industrial cities helps us understand how the cities we live in differ from preindustrial cities and from some cities of the developing nations of the third world. The industrial and preindustrial cities here described are “ideal types”—that is, they do not exist in reality but are rather abstractions or constructs obtained by carrying certain characteristics of each type of city to their logical extremes. Such ideal types can never exist in reality, but they are most useful in accentuating characteristics for the purposes of comparative historical research.

In his much-quoted article “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” Louis Wirth gives a number of characteristics that he suggests are common to cities, and in particular to industrial cities.” For Wirth, a city is a permanent settlement possessing the following characteristics: (1) size, (2) density, (3) heterogeneity. The city is the place where large numbers of persons are crowded together in a limited space—persons who have different skills, interests, and cultural backgrounds. The result is the independence, anonymity, and cultural heterogeneity of city dwellers. Modem industrial cities, he says, are characterized by (1) an extensive division of labor, (2) emphasis on innovation and achievement, (3) lack of primary ties to a localized neighborhood, (4) breakdown of primary groups, leading to social disorganization, (5) reliance on secondary forms of social control, such as the police, (6) interaction with others as players of specific roles rather than as total personalities, (7) destruction of close family life and a transfer of its functions to specialized agencies outside the home, (8) a diversity permitted in values and religious beliefs, (9) encouragement of social mobility and working one’s way up, and (10) universal rules applicable to all, such as the same legal system, standardized weights and measures, and common prices. The industrial city thus is achievement oriented and prizes a rationally oriented economic system. It is predominantly a middle-class city. In brief, urbanism as a way of life prizes rationality, secularism, diversity, innovation, and progress. It is change-oriented. According to Wirth, “The larger, the more densely populated, the more heterogeneous the community, the more accentuated the characteristics associated with urban ism will be.”** (Wirth’s views are discussed in detail in Chapter 7: Urban Lifestyles.)

Gideon Sjoberg paints a different picture for preindustrial cities.# He suggests that a number of factors we associate with cities are generic only to industrial cities. In contrast to Wirth he suggests that preindustrial cities serve primarily as governmental or religious centers and only secondarily as commercial hubs. Specialization of work is limited, and the production of goods depends on animate (human or animal) power. There is little division of labor; the artisan participates in every phase of manufacture. Home and workplace are not separate as in the industrial city; an artisan or merchant lives in back of or above the workplace. Justice is based not on what you do but on who you are. Standardization is not of major importance. Different people pay different prices for the same goods, and there is no universal system of weights and measures. In brief, the preindustrial city stresses particularism over universalism. Class and kinship systems are relatively inflexible; education is the prerogative of the rich. A small elite maintains a privileged status over the disadvantaged masses.

Emphasis is on traditional ways of doing things; the guild system discourages innovation. Ascription rather than achievement is the norm; a worker is expected to do the job he or she was born into. A person lives and works in a particular quarter of the city and rarely moves beyond this area. Social control is the responsibility of the primary group rather than secondary groups; persons are subject to strict kinship control. Formal police forces are unnecessary. Family influence is strong, with the traditional extended family accepted as the ideal. Children, and especially sons, are valued. There is great similarity in values, and little diversity in religion is tolerated. Opportunity for social mobility is severely restricted by a caste system or rigid class system. There is little or no middle class; one is either rich or poor. The preindustrial city lacks what the great French sociologist Emile Durkheim called “moral density,” or what we today call “social integration.” By contemporary standards the preindustrial city is neither socially nor economically integrated. The walled quarters of the preindustrial city are largely independent units; their physical proximity to one another does not lead to social interaction. The city as a whole may possess heterogeneity, but actual social contacts rarely extend beyond one’s own group.

Of course no real city conforms exactly either to the industrial model or to the preindustrial model. Models are best used as aids that sharpen our comparative understanding of differences; they should never be mistaken for actual places.

*Louis Wirth, “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” American Journal

of Sociology 44:1-24, July 1938.

**Ibid., p. 9.

# Gideon Sjoberg, The Preindustrial City: Past and Present,

Free Press, New York, 1960




Technological Improvements and the Industrial Revolution

Roughly at the same time that agricultural improvements were both increasing yields and releasing workers, inventions were being made that would allow for the growth of whole new industries. Eighteenth-century inventions in the manufacture of cloth, such as the flying shuttle and the spinning jenny, were capped in 1767 by James Watt’s invention of a usable steam engine. The steam engine provided a new and bountiful inanimate source of energy. The cotton industry boomed, and it was soon followed by other industries. The machines, rather than eliminating the need for workers, rapidly increased the demand for an urban workforce.’ A factory system began to emerge based on specialization and mechanization. As a consequence, new forms of occupational structure and a more complex stratification system began to develop. In the mechanized, capital- intensive industries, urban bondage replaced rural bondage for poor laborers.


The Second Urban Revolution

The first urban revolution was the emergence of cities, and the second was the 18th-century changes that for the first time made it possible for more than 10 percent of the population to live in urban places. This new urban revolution

started in Europe. Without population growth and the release of workers from the land, it is hard to see how the early industrial cities could have grown at all for, as noted earlier, unhealthful living conditions in cities meant that they were not able to maintain, much less increase, their population without in-migration from rural areas.

Rapid expansion of population (Figure 2.2) and national economic expansion did not, however, translate into healthful living conditions in the bulging European towns that were turning into cities. Eighteenth-century London was a model of filth, crowding, and disease. The early stages of industrialism hardly did much to improve the situation. While rural mortality decreased, urban mortality was kept high by unbelievably poor sanitary conditions. The novels of Charles Dickens, such as Oliver Twist (1838), give an accurate portrayal of life in such cities. Cholera and other epidemics were common until the middle of the 19th century, and until the 1840s many of London’s sewers emptied into the Thames just a short distance above the ducts that drew drinking water from the river. It was fortunate that the fascination and opportunities of the city continued to attract rural migrants, since without migration the cities would not have grown but died. Until the latter part of the 19th century, the old English observation: “The city is the graveyard of countrymen,” was all too accurate.


BOX 2.3 Engels on Industrial Slums

Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), Karl Marx’s close associate and collaborator, was an acute observer of the social horrors of 19th-century urban industrialization. He likewise was a fine writer with a mastery of detail and mood rivaling that of Dickens. Note his description of the horror of life in the industrial slums of Manchester.*


The view from this bridge—mercifully concealed from smaller mortals by a parapet as high as man— is quite characteristic of the entire district. At the bottom the Irk flows, or rather stagnates. It is a narrow, coal-black stinking river full of filth and garbage which it deposits on the lower-lying bank. In dry weather, an extended series of the most revolting blackish green pools of slime remain standing on this bank, out of whose depths bubbles of miasmatic gases constantly rise and give forth a stench that is unbearable even on the bridge forty or fifty feet above the level of the water. . . Above Ducie Bridge there are tall tannery buildings, and further up are dye-works, bone mills, and gasworks. The total entirety of the liquid wastes and solid offscourings of these works finds its way into the River Irk, which receives as well the contents of the adjacent sewers and privies. One can therefore imagine what kind of residues the stream deposits. Below Ducie Bridge, on the left, one looks into piles of rubbish, the refuse, filth and decaying matter of the courts on the steep left bank of the river. Here one house is packed very closely upon another, and because of the steep pitch of the bank a part of every house is visible. All of them are blackened with smoke, crumbling, old, with broken window panes and window frames. The background is formed by old factory buildings, which resemble barracks. On the right, low-lying bank stands a long row of houses and factories. The second house is a roofless ruin, filled with rubble, and the third stands in such a low situation that the ground floor is uninhabitable and is as a result without windows and doors. The background here is formed by the paupers’ cemetery and the stations of the railways to Liverpool and Leeds. Behind these is the workhouse, Manchester’s “Poor Law Bastille.” It is built on a hill, like a citadel, and from behind its high walls and battlements looks down threateningly upon the working-class quarter that lies below. . . . Passing along a rough path on the river bank, in between posts and washing fines, one penetrates into this chaos of little one-storied, one-roomed huts. Most of them have earth floors, cooking, living and sleeping all take place in one room. In such a hole, barely six feet long and five feet wide, I saw two

beds—and what beds and bedding—that filled the room, except for the doorstep and fireplace in several others I found absolutely nothing, although the door was wide open and the inhabitants were leaning against it. Everywhere in front of the doors were rubbish and refuse, it was impossible to see whether any sort of pavement lay under this, but here and there I felt it out with my feet. This whole pile of cattlesheds inhabited by human beings was surrounded on two sides by houses and a factory and on a third side by the river. . . . [A] narrow gateway led out of it into an almost equally miserably-built and miserably-kept labyrinth of dwellings.

“Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in

England in 1844 (first published in 1845), Publishers

Moscow, 1973.



This chapter provides an overview of the emergence of urban places and discusses how and why cities developed. An ecosystem model, the ecological complex using the variables of population, organization, environment, and technology (POET), reminds us of the interrelationships of variables in the emergence of cities. For early social groups and emerging cities, environment played a crucial role. For understanding contemporary changes many sociologists prefer political economy models that stress the importance of the capitalistic economic system in shaping urban places and life.

The emergence of permanent settlements was dependent on the invention of agriculture with its promise of agricultural surplus to feed city dwellers. Cities encouraged innovation not only in technology but also in social organization. Kingship, nonagricultural specialists, and a division of labor emerged. Some suggest that Jericho with 600 people around 8000 B.C.E. was an early city. China’s cities evolved somewhat after those in the Middle East, and cities in Mesoamerica were not a result of cultural diffusion but of separate invention. By 500 B.C.E. the Mayans had created large settlements. Their successors, the Aztecs, had a city of 200,000 at Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) when the Spanish arrived in 1512.

The major contribution of the Greeks was in the area of social organization, the social invention

of the polis or city-state. Athenians thus were those who shared a common mythical ancestry from the gods and therefore could worship at the temple of Athena, goddess of the city. The Greeks believed in controlling city size and sent surplus population to establish colonies. This spread both Greek culture and

Greek ideas of government. The Roman strength was in technology. They built aqueducts,

coliseums, public baths, and 52,000 miles of public roads linking their cities.

The collapse of Rome led to the decay and virtual disappearance of large cities. Medieval society was organized around self-sufficient fortified manors. When burgs began again to grow in the 10th century, they often did so in opposition to the rural-based medieval order. Great plagues, beginning in 1351, were particularly virulent in cities, wiping out one-third of Europe’s urban population. Renaissance cities

of the 15th and 16th centuries were often self-governing and embarked on major building programs. However, the technologies of cannons and gunpowder meant the city walls were vulnerable and could be breached by a king’s army.

Major technological improvements in agriculture beginning in the late 16th century produced

greater surpluses, which allowed cities to grow larger than a tenth of the population. A demographic transition—from a time of high birthrates and high death rates, through a period of declining death rates, to an era in which birthrates also declined—led to dramatic population increases. Manufacturing inventions

(especially for making cloth) and the development of the steam engine in the late 18th century led to industrialization and urban-based factories. Population increases, due to agricultural improvements that increased yields with fewer workers, provided a surplus population to staff the new urban factories.

The crowded and growing cities were poor places to live, or even to survive. Death rates were higher than birthrates. Cities grew only because of massive rural in-migration. Nineteenth-century factory workers living in developing industrial cities such as Manchester, England, suffered from poverty, poor health, and horrible living conditions.



  1. What is the ecological complex and what are its four concepts or categories of variables?
  2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ecological complex?
  3. What role did agriculture play in the development of the first urban settlements?
  4. How were the cities and social organization of Athens and Rome similar and how did they differ?
  5. How was the medieval city spatially organized and how did its organization change during the Renaissance?
  6. How did the 14th-century plague, the black death, change the social organization in Europe?
  7. What are the crucial differences in the ideal type social structure of preindustrial and industrial cities as listed by Gidion Sjoberg and Louis Wirth?
  8. What is the demographic transition and how did it affect city growth?
  9. What was the second urban revolution and what were its consequences?
  10. What were the effects of the 19th-century Industrial Revolution on life in cities?



  1. Manuel Castells, The Urban Question: A Marxist

Approach, Alan Sheridan (trans.), M.I.T. Press,

Cambridge, Mass., 1977.

  1. Otis Dudley Duncan, “From Social System

to Ecosystem,” Sociological Inquiry 31:145, 1961.

  1. See the discussion by John Logan, Robert

Beauregard, and Herbert Gans in Community and

Urban Sociology, Section Newsletter, American Sociological

Association, Summer 1995, pp. 6-7.

  1. Mark Gottdiener and Joe Feagin, “The Paradigm

Shift in Urban Sociology,” Urban Affairs Quarterly

24, 174, 1988.

  1. Joe Feagan and Robert Parker, Building

American Cities: The Real Estate Game, Prentice -Hall,

Englewood Cliffs, NJ., 1990.

  1. Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins,

Its Transformations and Its Prospects, Harcourt,

Brace, and World, New York, 1961, p. 55.

  1. Not everyone agrees with an implicit evolutionary

typology such as the one used in this chapter.

Bruce Trigger, for instance, strongly argues

against an evolutionary approach in explaining the

emergence and growth of cities, and he states that

“what seems to be required is a more piecemeal and

institutional approach to complex societies.” Bruce

Trigger, “Determinants of Urban Growth in Pre-Industrial

Societies,” in Peter Ucko, Ruth Tringham,

and G. W Dimbleby (eds.), Man, Settlement, and Urbanism,

Schenkman, Cambridge, Mass., 1972, p. 576.

  1. “Voices of the World,” National Geographic Society,

Washington, D.C., August 1999.

  1. J. Carl Haub, “How Many People Have Ever

Lived on Earth?” Population Today, Nov./Dec., 2002,

p 1.

  1. Jane Jacobs reverses the order presented

here, suggesting that intensive agriculture was the

result rather than the cause of cities. This theory

suggests that population growth forced agricultural

improvements. See Jane Jacobs, The Economy of Cities,

Random House, New York, 1969.

  1. Mumford, op. cit., p. 10.
  2. Kathleen Mary Kenyon, Archeology in the Holy

Land, 3rd ed., Praeger, New York, 1970; 4th ed.,

Methuen, London, 1985.

  1. Kent J. Flannery, “The Origins of Agriculture,”

Annual Review of Anthropology, 2:271 -310,


  1. E. Cecil Curwen and Gudmund Hatt, Plough

and Pasture: The Early History of Farming, Collier

Books, New York, 1961, p. 64.

  1. Robert Braidwood, “The Agricultural Revolution,”

Scientific American, September 1960, p. 7.

  1. Ray Huang, China: A Macro History, M. E.

Sharpe, London, 1988.

  1. John F. Ross, “First City in the New World?”

Smithsonian, August, 2002, pp. 56-64.

  1. Robert Cooke, “Palace Found in Rain Forest,”

Los Angeles Times/Washington Post News Service,

September 8, 2000.

  1. Colin Woodard, “Wrestling Prizes of the

Maya from the Yucatan Jungle,” Chronicle of Higher

Education, October 20, 2000, p. A22.

  1. Guy Gugliotta, “The Mayan Glory and Ruin,”

National Geographic, August 2007, pp. 66-109.

  1. V. Gordon Childe, What Happened in History,

rev. ed., Penguin Books, New York, 1964, p. 87.

  1. Ibid., p. 86.
  2. Amos H. Hawley, Urban Society, Rowald

Press, New York, 1981, pp. 32-33.

  1. Kingsley Davis, “The Origin and Growth of

Urbanization in the World,” American Journal of Sociology,

60:430, March 1955.

  1. Gerhard E. Lenski and Jean Lenski, Human

Society: An Introduction to Macrosociology, McGraw-Hill,

New York, 1987.

  1. Robert M. Adams, “The Origins of Cities,”

Scientific American, September 1960, p. 7.

  1. Herrlee Glessner Creel, The Birth of China: A

Study of the Formative Period of Chinese Civilization, Reynal

and Hitchcock, New York, 1937, p. 279.

  1. Adams, op. cit., p. 9.
  2. “Did Maya Tap Water for Power?” Washington

Post, Feb. 18, 1991, p. A3.

  1. Creel, op. cit., p. 279.
  2. Adams, op. cit., p. 9.
  3. V. Gordon Childe, “The Urban Revolution,”

Town Planning Review, 21:4-7, 1950.

  1. Stuart Piggot, “The Role of the City in Ancient

Civilization,” in Robert Moor Fisher (ed.), The

Metropolis in Modern Life, Russel and Russel, New

York, 1955.

  1. Gustave Glotz, Ancient Greece at Work: An Economic

History of Greece from the Homeric Period to the

Roman Conquest, M. R. Dobie (trans.), Norton, New

York, 1967, pp. 291-93.

  1. Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient

City: A Study on the Religion, Laws and Institutions

of Greece and Rome, Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y.,

1956 (first published 1865), p. 134.

  1. Max Weber, The City, Don Martindale and

Gertrud Neuwirth (trans.), Free Press, New York,


  1. Mumford, op. cit., p. 180.
  2. Plato, The Laws, Book V, Prometheus Books,

Cincinnati, 2000.

  1. Aristotle, Politics, Book VII, Richard Kraut

(trans.), Oxford University Press, New York, 1998.

  1. Aristotle, Politics, Book WI, op. cit.
  2. William Petersen, Population, Macmillan,

New York, 1969, p. 369.

  1. All these are basically guesstimates.
  2. Ibid., pp. 54-55.
  3. Jerome Carcopino, Daily Life in Ancient Rome:

The People and the City at the Height of the Empire, E. 0.

Lorimer (trans.), Yale University Press, New Haven,

Conn., 1940.

  1. Mason Hammond, The City in the Ancient

World, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.,

1972, p. 324.

  1. Henri Pirenne, Medieval Cities: Their Origins

and the Revival of Trade, Frank D. Halsey (trans.),

Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ., 1939,

particularly pp. 84-85. For an excellent discussion of

the Byzantine Empire, Islam, India, Japan, and

Southeast Asia, see S. N. Eisenstadt and A. Shachar,

Society, Culture, and Urbanization, Sage, Newbury Park,

Calif., 1987.

  1. Howard Saalman, Medieval Cities, Braziller,

New York, 1968, p. 15

  1. Weber, op. cit., p. 49.
  2. Pirenne, op. cit., p. 76.
  3. Fritz Rarig, The Medieval Town, University of

California Press, Berkeley, 1967, p. 15.

  1. For a superb analysis of the importance of

trade to the development of Europe, see Fernand

Braude!, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean

World in the Age of Philip II, Sian Reynolds (trans.),

Harper & Row, New York, 1973.

  1. Mumford, op. cit., p. 263.
  2. Frederick Hiorns, Town Building in History,

George Harrap, London, 1956, p. 110.

  1. Henri Pirenne, Economic and Social History of

Medieval Europe, I. E. Clegg (trans.), Harcourt, New

York, 1956, p. 173.

  1. In its precise sense, the phrase refers to the

medieval practice of recognizing the freedom of any

serf who could manage to remain within the walls of

the city for a year and a day.

  1. Weber, op. cit., p. 81.
  2. William L. Langer, “The Black Death,” in

Kingsley Davis, Cities, Their Origin, Growth, andHuman Impact: Readings from Scientific American, Freeman,

San Francisco, 1973, p. 106.

  1. Ibid., pp. 106-107.
  2. Andre Siegfried, Routes of Contagion, Harcourt,

Brace and World, New York, 1965.

  1. George Deauz, The Black Death, Weybright

and Talley, New York, 1969, p. 145.

  1. Langer, op. cit., p. 109.
  2. For an excellent discussion of European urbanization,

see Jan de Vries, European Urbanization

1500-1800, Harvard University Press, Cambridge,

Mass., 1984; and Paul M. Hohenberg and Lynn

Hollen Lees, The Making of Urban Europe 1000-1950,

Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1985.

  1. Mary Dorothy George, London Life in the

Eighteenth Century, Harper Torchbooks, New York,

1964, p. 25.

  1. Eric Lampara, “The Urbanizing World,” in

H.J. Dyds and Michael Wolfe (eds.), The Victorian

World, Routledge & Regan Paul, London, 1976.

  1. Colin Chant and David Goodman, European

Cities and Technologies, Routledge, London, 2000.




pete padilla 

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