EX4 4ST, UK
Institutional Affiliation: University of Exeter
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|July 2017||How Merchant Towns Shaped Parliaments: From the Norman Conquest of England to the Great Reform Act|
with Charles Angelucci, Nico Voigtländer: w23606
We study the emergence of urban self-governance during the Commercial Revolution in the 12th- 13th century and show that municipal autonomy shaped national institutions over the subsequent centuries. We focus on England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and build a novel comprehensive dataset of 554 Medieval towns (boroughs). We show that merchant towns were particularly likely to obtain Farm Grants – the right of self-governed tax collection and law enforcement. We present evidence that self-governance, in turn, fostered enfranchisement: Farm Grant towns were much more likely to be summoned directly to the Medieval English Parliament than otherwise similar towns. We also show that self-governed towns strengthened the role of Parliament: They resisted royal attempts to introduce patronage ...