Any discussion of the importance and growth of towns is made difficult by problems of defining what a town was. The legal definitions of the period paid only limited attention to size or function. In the region of Aix-en-Provence in southern France all built-up areas surrounded by walls and provided with royal justice were defined as towns, irrespective of their size or function. In Poland towns were legally incorporated institutions, again irrespective of size or function. Settlements without owners were defined as towns in Russia, and though they differed greatly in age, size and other factors, they were all subject to the same laws and regulations and contrasted legally with settlements that were the property of an individual or an institution.
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