Issues in the Developed World
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 2: Differential Urbanization Trends in Europe: The European Case
E. Heikkilä and H. Kaskinoro Urban history of Europe One could claim that European urbanism started with the emergence of the Greek polis in the eighth century bc. The polis, the city and the surrounding countryside and smaller villages and hamlets were usually integrated into harmonious political entities. Between 800 and 146 bc the Greeks formed small, independent city-states composed of coastal cities and their adjoining farmlands. Its largest city, Athens, may have reached 100 000 in population, but most other cities rarely exceeded 40 000. The formation of the Roman Empire between 146 bc and ad 300 represented the largest political and economic integration of territory in the ancient world. As the centre of the country’s military and administrative organization, Rome grew to a remarkable size, surpassing 800 000 inhabitants and perhaps reaching a million by ad 2 (Kim, 2007, p. 4). The Roman Empire collapsed in the seventh century in the face of Islamic expansion, competition and invasions from the East. Because large-volume, long-distance trade was difficult, towns become isolated and inward-looking, urban life in Western Europe declined to its nadir by the end of the ninth century (Urban Origins and Preindustrial Cities, 2006). After that, urban patterns became established. Most of the settlements that exist today were already established by ad 1350. The basic dimensions of the European urban system, including its urban–rural structural relations are of medieval origin (Bengs and Schmidt-Thomé, 2003, p. 19). The largest cities of Southern Europe were founded around 1350 and...
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