This review reconsiders the place and importance of urban political culture in England between c. 1550 and c. 1750. Relating recent work on urban political culture to trends in political, social, and cultural historiography, it argues that England's towns and boroughs underwent two ‘renaissances’ over the course of the period: a ‘civic renaissance’ and the better-known ‘urban renaissance’. The former was fashioned in the sixteenth century; however, its legacy continued to inform political thought and practice over 150 years later. Similarly, although the latter is generally associated with ‘the long eighteenth century’, its attributes can be traced to at least the Elizabethan era. While central to broader transitions in post-Reformation political culture, these ‘renaissances’ were crucial in restructuring the social relations and social identity of townsmen and women. They also constituted an important but generally neglected dynamic of England's seventeenth-century ‘troubles’.
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