Recent decades have witnessed a research boom into the history of the early modern English town. A subject which in many respects was uncharted territory in the early 1970s, before the publication in 1972 of the path-breaking Crisis and Order in English Towns 1500–1700,1 now has the character of a map the broad contours of which have been sketched in, although in which there are still obvious lacunae, and there is much scope for detailed infilling. The volume of research, and an early focus on synthesis — on viewing towns generically rather than individually2 — has ensured that the town has emerged as a distinct (if not independent) variable in the period’s history as a whole. This chapter will survey the findings of this new work as it relates to the Restoration town (1660-c. 1688).
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