Urban development was a key phenomenon in medieval Western Europe. This paper focuses on the relationship between the institutions and the new towns set up in France at that time. It interprets the institutional evolution on the basis of the actions of communities’ founders (kings or overlords) and dwellers to govern the transition through urban constitutions furthering civil, economic, administrative, and political laws. It highlights institutions by which the royal government acquired territory and increased its influence at the expense of feudal lords. It shows that some formal and informal institutions prevailed at a local level to provide the incentive structure to further the urban growth during the High Middle Ages whereas other formal and informal institutions predominated at the national (royal) level when the urban movement declined during the Late Middle Ages.
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