The history of the European city from the early Middle Ages until the present is also an account of the relationship between urban life and the history of ideas and culture. The author begins by discussing the survival of urban culture in the wake of the barbarian and Islamic invasions from the north and east, following the collapse of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. He continues with an examination of the great period of urban expansion between the 11th and 14th centuries, the growth of urban freedoms and the development of independent city civilizations in Flanders and Italy. The two centuries following the formation of the first European states brought concentrated power and influence to their capitals (Rome, Paris, Prague, London, Antwerp, Lisbon, Seville and Genoa). New ideas of national identity were reflected in the organization of traditional urban space. The conflict between city and country had emerged by the 16th century, and the author shows how this influenced the colonial towns of the two Americas. The book concludes with chapters on the effects of industrialization and modern transportation, in particular the impact of the car.
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