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Social Relations and Urban Space: Norwich, 1600-1700

Social Relations and Urban Space: Norwich, 1600-1700

Fiona Williamson
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Social Relations and Urban Space: Norwich, 1600-1700
    Book Description:

    This is a book about seventeenth-century Norwich and its inhabitants. At its core are the interconnected themes of social topographies and the relationships between urban inhabitants and their environment. Cityscapes were, and are, shaped and given meaning during the practice of people's lived experiences. In return, those same urban places lend human interactions depth and quality. Social Relations and Urban Space uncovers manifold possible landscapes, including those belonging to the rich and to the poor, to men, to women, to 'strangers and foreigners', to political actors of both formal and informal means. Norwich's inhabitants witnessed the tumultuous seventeenth century at first hand, and their experiences were written into the landscape and immortalised in its exemplary surviving records. This book offers an insight into the social relationships and topographies that fashioned both city life and landscape and serves as a useful counterpoise in a field that has largely focused on London. FIONA WILLIAMSON is currently Senior Lecturer in History at the National University of Malaysia.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-395-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Abbreviations and Notes
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-40)

    This is a book about a city and its inhabitants. Cities have long captured the human imagination with writers and philosophers waxing lyrical on the triumph of urbanity over rural backwardness, framing cities as the embodiment of civilisation, symbols of a perfect cosmic order, even as the earthly manifestation of godliness and purity.² Medieval and early-modern writers did not uniformly praise cities however; like God and the Devil, cities had their nemesis. In phrases redolent of a fire-and-brimstone preacher, Thomas Dekker described cities as dangerous, corrupting places full of sin, as wanton and lewd as the female sex; tropes that...

  7. 1 The City and the Parish
    (pp. 41-62)

    Seventeenth-century people were familiar with the convention of communicating ideas through visual symbolism. Images were regularly used in place of words in a society where many people were illiterate or poorly educated: in shop signs in the streets, in woodcuts illustrating pamphlets or ballads, in pictures painted across the walls of alehouses. Even for the reading public, a symbol or a picture could convey far more than a few words. Monarchs had long capitalised on the premise that promoting the correct image in art was a form of self-propaganda.² Take Van Dyke’s series of portraits of Charles I during the...

  8. 2 Claiming Public Space: Competing Perceptions
    (pp. 63-92)

    The previous chapter considered two competing visualisations of one city. On the one hand was a stylised prospect laden with symbolic meaning and representing the interests of a relatively small social group, on the other was a city as it was lived and negotiated by its inhabitants. In the former, the city is conceptualised from above as one entity and the eye is drawn to landmarks, such as the walls, castle and cathedral, as ways of deciphering the landscape and, in the latter, the city is the sum of its parts, conceptualised from the bottom-up as parishes, neighbourhoods and people....

  9. 3 Separations and Intersections: The Norwich Strangers
    (pp. 93-124)

    Jan (John) Cruso, a Dutch poet and writer who had lived in seventeenth-century Norwich, penned the verse above, his words quite clearly expressing his pleasure at the verdant urban hinterlands of the Yare Valley that had become his new home. Cruso was one of the many migrants who came to East Anglia during the early-modern period and his story is revealing of how the so-called ‘strangers’ managed the remarkable transition of starting afresh, often as refugees, into a land that was in parts hostile and welcoming to the newcomers.² In leaving their home countries, many strangers found that legal discrimination...

  10. 4 Gendering the Streets: Men, Women, and Public Space
    (pp. 125-160)

    Previous chapters have considered the transformative effect of personal circumstances, networks and interests on perceptions and experiences of the city. This chapter considers how far gender may have coloured perceptions of urban space in Norwich. In particular, it asks the question – was the city a different place for men and for women? There has been a great deal of literature that has addressed the notion of ‘gendered’ space.¹ A popular focus of this recent work has been to compare the lived experiences of city men and women with dominant socio-cultural narratives concerning gender roles and appropriate spheres of movement....

  11. 5 Political Landscapes
    (pp. 161-204)

    The inhabitants of seventeenth-century Norwich had a healthy and proactive relationship with their city’s politics. From participating in the formal mechanisms of governance through the practice of holding a local office,¹ debating (or on occasion directing) the course and outcome of a local election, negotiating terms of the corporation’s charter, by expressing opinions about political events or personalities in the alehouse, or even by rioting on the streets, it seems that Norwich people all had something to say about local affairs. Norwich’s ‘vibrant’ and ‘participatory’ political culture was very much a part of the city’s history and landscape.²

    Provincial politics...

  12. Conclusion: A City of Many Faces
    (pp. 205-208)

    Telling the story of a city entails more than a retelling of chronological events. This book has attempted to reveal a different side to seventeenth-century Norwich by re-reading its records with a close lens on the words and actions of its inhabitants in the context of the place in which they lived. It has explored perceptions of space and place from different perspectives and considered some of the conceptual landscapes available to, and created by, inhabitants and their networks. It has endeavoured to show that people negotiated their city in ways that reflected their specific socio-cultural perspectives and that the...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 209-228)
  14. Index
    (pp. 229-234)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-237)