Local power toward central authorities: decision-making process in medieval urban societies

Local power toward central authorities: decision-making process in medieval urban societies


This second edition of the international seminar Lectures on Social Contract will be held within the scope of the CIDEHUS group and is planned to take place in April 2024 at the University of Évora. The scientific summit is dedicated to bringing together different specialists who analyse the discursivities of decision-making developed in medieval towns and other local instances of political governance. The goal of this seminar is centred in exploring the dynamics between the local and the central spheres of power, following an understanding on how those dynamics build their communication strategies from communal institutions side to interact with —or, even though, resist to— their so-called sovereign authorities.

These communication channels often operated networks of semantic change between the local spheres, where political decisions were performed, and the higher spheres with jurisdictional power over them. Although it is true that these discursive dynamics have been implicitly taken as an object of attention of several historiographical scholarships, it is also true that many of them have served to highlight a wildly interpretation of the Statebuilding in the late medieval societies.

In our attempt to put different perspectives on this subject, we are readily inviting our speakers to look in continuation of their own specialisation approaches to examine the communal space and its political interactions as manufacture of institutional discourses through semantic adaptations. Within these elements anchoring the generical proposal this summit aims to analyse the transformations of meanings in local representativeness and the decision-making processes that covered the institutional metamorphoses of the local spheres of power, as in the municipal or the urban world.



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Decision-making and financing policies between local and central powers

  • Maria Helena da Cruz Coelho (Universidade de Coimbra) | Um longo caminho até à representação do poder local em Cortes — escolher, custear, parlamentar
  • Vincent Challet (Université de Montpellier) | Defensio regni versus defensio patriae: military and financial strategies of the Languedocian elites during the Hundred Years War

Forms of sovereignty envisaged from urban societies, a reality of the 14th century

  • Flocel Sabaté (Universitat de Lleida) | The king of Aragon and his Catalan towns in the 14th century
  • Andrea Zorzi (Università degli Studi di Firenze) | Città italiane ed impero nel XIV secolo

The conflict between local and central as the nerve of political decision

  • Justine Firnhaber-Baker (University of Saint Andrews) | The Role of Towns in the French Jacquerie Revolt of 1358
  • Hillay Zmora (Ben Gurion University of the Negev) | The conflict between princes and the role of local nobles: South Germany in the fifteenth century

Forms of mediation, decisionism and representation conceived from local(s) to central(s)

  • Alma Poloni (Università degli Studi di Pisa) | Organi di vertice e consigli a Firenze nella seconda metà del Trecento
  • Gisela Naegle (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen) | Alliances, Mediation, Agreements and Contracts: Towns, Emperors and Nobility in the Wetterau and the Rhine Valley in the Late Middle Ages

Social contract practices: tying and untying the bonds of the body politic

  • Hipolito Rafael Oliva (Universidad de Sevilla) | El cuerpo de la comunidad política: dinámicas contractuales en las ciudades castellanas a fines de la Edad Media
  • Jelle Haemers (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) | Bound by justice? Ideas of political contract in late medieval Flanders and Brabant


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