Although historians have always studied towns, widespread interest in urban history as a specialised historical field is relatively recent. This new fashion has stimulated the development of a major controversy about the fortunes of towns in England between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. Some see them as prone to crisis and frequently subject to decay, while others have held that many of them prospered in these centuries. This book guides the reader through the controversy, summarises the opposing arguments, and adds new insights derived from the author’s own research. Alan Dyer argues that the problem lay in the rise and decline of regional economies rather than the rise and decline of the towns which lay in those regions. An extensive bibliography with notes helps the reader to come to his or her own conclusions.