Treasure of the City: The Public Sphere and Civic Urbanism in Late Medieval Barcelona

Dr. Shelley E. Roff’s forthcoming book, Treasure of the City, illustrates the transformative role the construction of public works, monuments and urban spaces played in the crystallization of municipal power in late medieval Barcelona. The nascent city council’s quest for the right to tax trade as a form of income to fund public construction required negotiation with aristocratic and religious authorities, a dynamic and contentious conversation that led to the municipal government’s empowerment and to a commercial revolution in the city. This study investigates how the architecture of urban institutions has the capacity to shape social behavior and can perform as an active agent of social change. Treasure of the City is an urban and architectural history that grounds its theses in the city’s social, political and economic history; it serves as a model of new interdisciplinary scholarship bridging methodological differences between the study of architecture and other humanities disciplines. This book project is funded by a Faculty Award for Hispanic Serving Institutions, a fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The architecture of medieval Barcelona can also be studied in Dr. Roff’s research project, The Virtual Archive of Medieval Barcelona