This comprehensive study traces the history of over forty royal free towns from the sixteenth century to 1848 in the territories of what today are Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania. Szelenyi argues that these towns have been a neglected feature of national meta-narratives in Eastern Europe because their dwellers were often German speakers. He calls for a serious reevaluation of urban development in Eastern Europe and for a new meta-narrative that focuses on the region through the lenses of the numerous ethnic diasporas.

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