URBAN REVIVAL IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND: BRIDGNORTH AND THE RIVER TRADE, 1660–1800
Author: Wanklyn, Malcolm
Source: Midland History, Volume 18, 1993 , pp. 37-64(28)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:The English ‘urban crisis’, when first proposed in the early 1970s, was a concert overture in chronological terms affecting a small number of what were primarily well-established textile towns and confined very largely to the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. It has now become a symphony which began in the closing decades of the fourteenth century, afflicted a large number of towns with significant populations at some time or another over a period of almost three hundred years, and reached its final coda just before the outbreak of the English Civil War. Disregarding the argument that the ‘urban crisis’ as a concept is now so attenuated as to be worthless, there is considerable justification in extending its time scale still further to include the war itself. Almost all towns suffered commercial damage as heavy taxes made inroads into movable capital whilst blockades and plundering disrupted both external and internal trade. Many also experienced epidemics of plague and typhus sparked off by the unprecedented movement of people around the country, but exacerbated by malnutrition caused as much by the dislocation of the national food marketing system as by the enervating effects of siege warfare. Although there are exceptions such as Colchester and Newcastle, serious physical damage was largely confined to where the most serious fighting took place, a corridor of land one hundred and fifty miles wide stretching in a curve from Yorkshire and Lancashire to Cornwall. Within this corridor the degree of destruction varied, but if measured in terms of the loss of public buildings, commercial properties and housing stock, Bridgnorth stands right at the top of the national league table together with towns like Banbury, Taunton and Faringdon.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1993-01-01