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For more than fifty years no synthesis has been written which systematically examines the growth and development of cities in north-west Europe. Adriaan Verhulst takes as his subject the history of urban settlements and towns in the region between the rivers Somme and Meuse from the late Roman period (fourth century) to the end of the twelfth century. This region comprises Flanders and Liège, two of the most urbanized areas, not only in the southern Netherlands but in northwestern Europe as a whole until the twelfth century. Fifteen towns are studied in all, and, supported by numerous maps, Professor Verhulst provides rich details of the impact of political, military, ecclesiastical, as well as social and economic, factors on the developing towns as they were transformed from regional markets to centres of industry and international commerce.