Urbanization has been a critical component in European demographic change in the modern period and the scale of urban transformation has been extensive. By the early-seventeenth century only a fraction of Europe's population lived in cities or towns of over 10,000 inhabitants, but by the late-eighteenth century a substantial urban network, with a large and growing population, had been established. The nineteenth century, in turn, witnessed unprecedented population growth and rapid urban expansion, with a marked acceleration in large city growth (Lawton and Lee, 1989b). Moreover, initial variations in the pace and scale of urbanization in individual European states gradually gave way to a process of general convergence, with Europe's cities in the earlytwentieth century largely dominated by national capitals, major ports and the regional capitals of highly industrialized regions.
But if an understanding of the nature of urban population processes is essential for an analysis of demographic and social change in modern Europe as a whole, the search for general explanatory models remains constrained by the continuing absence of detailed demographic studies of individual towns and cities. Recent research has not only challenged some of the basic assumptions concerning the alleged demographic costs of rapid urban growth, but has also highlighted the need for more disaggregated studies that allow the empirical testing of specific hypotheses on a micro-level. In particular a number of studies of individual European states (Lawton and Lee, 1989a) have pointed towards the existence of an identifiable typology of cities, with distinct demographic, economic and social characteristics, which represents a potential framework for examining key elements in urban population development in Western Europe.
The relevance of such an approach for historical population studies, particularly within a framework of an economic or occupational typology that distinguishes between communities dependent on textiles or heavy industry, great capital cities or seaports, was recognized at an early stage by Wrigley (1961). Significant demographic differences are visible within a European context, not only between high- and low-pressure demographic régimes, but also between specific socio-economic or occupational groups. Urban communities throughout Europe which depended primarily on coal- mining or heavy industry frequently registered high nuptiality and fertility rates, whereas textile manufacture, for example, was associated with low fertility (Haines, 1979).