During the Sixth International Conference on Urban History, which will take place in Edinburgh (4 -7 September 2002) a Specialist Session will be organised on: ‘Almost cities” and small towns: Lords and their urban strategies in early modern Europe.
If you wish to present a parer, please send a one page abstract to the Session organisers (Heleni Porfyriou, firstname.lastname@example.org and Elena Svalduz email@example.com) or contact them as soon as possible, and in any case before October 1, 2001.
“Almost-cities” and small towns: Lords and their urban strategies
in early modern Europe
Dr. Heleni Porfyriou (CNR, Centro di Conservazione delle Opere d’Arte, Rome, Italy)
Dr. Elena Svalduz (IUAV, Dipartimento di Storia dell’Architettura, Venice, Italy)
Italian literature, in the last two decades, coined the term “quasi –città” (almost-cities) to the minor centres of Central and Northern Italy, which aspiring to become “civitates” were transformed and enlarged by their Lords with a number of functions and infrastructures of a considerably high level.
The aim of this Session is to broaden the already initiated Italian comparative study to a Euporean scale. Dr Elena Svalduz had organised , infact, last November in Venice a Conference on a this topic, where several case studies from the lombard-emilian context where presented (such as, Carpi, Correggio, Guastalla, Scandiano, etc.).
Following Peter Clark’s, Small towns in early modern Europe, the principal aim of this Session is to investigate and follow up the process of transformation of small towns (from simple “walled lands” centered on the Lord’s feudal family residence or castle) to “almost-civitates” through their Lord’s “humanistic” interventions; that is, to places that although lacking politico-institutional recognition were qualified as cities from an urban infrastructural point of view. This Session aims, in fact, to be an occasion for a comparative analysis on urban strategies and systems (such as city extensions, city infrastructures, or the hierarchical organisation of public spaces) in order to allow for analogies, common tendency lines or even urban models to emerge.
A number of more specific questions can be also asked, such as:
which was the role of the Lord as promoter of the new urban image and as co-ordinator of the different initiatives?
How the lack or presence of a strong central power influenced the existence of similar “almost-city” realities?
Which were the politico-institutional requirements in the different European countries for becoming cities and how the realities of “almost-cities” were perceived?
Historians, urbanists and architects are expected to be mainly the contributors of a similarly structured session.
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