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
After centuries of stagnation in the “Dark Ages,” the Commercial Revolution led to a boom in economic activity and urbanization across Western Europe. The surge in trade and commerce that began in the 11th century was followed by the emergence of self-governing merchant towns. Soon after, these merchant towns gained representation in regional and national parliaments. This paper establishes the mechanism by which trade led to parliamentary representation, via municipal autonomy. We focus on England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and build a novel comprehensive dataset of 554 Medieval towns (boroughs), tracking their institutional development over eight centuries. We document a two-step process: First, inefficiencies in the king’s centralized system of tax collection became increasingly ...