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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Christian Liddy

Liddy C. D. (2012). Urban politics and material culture at the end of the Middle Ages: the Coventry tapestry in St Mary's Hall. Urban History 39(2): 203-224.

Author(s) from Durham


This article uses the evidence of the internal decoration and spatial hierarchy of an English town hall to explore the construction of urban oligarchy in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Urban historians have regarded this period as one of fundamental importance in the political history of pre-modern English towns. It is associated with the emergence of the ‘close corporation’, an oligarchic form of government which remained largely in place until the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. The article examines the iconography and historical context of a tapestry, custom-made for the town hall of Coventry around 1500, to present a different view of the character of urban political culture at the end of the Middle Ages.