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in ancient Greece, Italy, and Medieval Europe, an independent political unit consisting of a city and surrounding countryside. The first city-states were in Sumer, but they reached their peak in Greece. From the beginning of Greek history to its climax in the 5th and 4th cent. B.C., the Greeks were organized into city-states, of which there were several hundred. The first Italian city-states were Greek colonies. Later Etruscan and native city-states emerged, including Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire, many Italian cities (e.g., Florence, Genoa, Venice) were city-states until the 19th cent., as were such N German cities as Bremen and Hamburg. The Greek word polis meant both city and city-state. Since the city-state was independent, different states—and the same state at different times—had a variety of governments, ranging from absolute monarchy to pure democracy. Only citizenscitizen,
member of a state, native or naturalized, who owes allegiance to the government of the state and is entitled to certain rights. Citizens may be said to enjoy the most privileged form of nationality; they are at the furthest extreme from nonnational residents of a state
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 participated in the government of the city-state, and citizenship was limited to those born of citizen parents. In the classical era, a large proportion of the city-state's population consisted of slaves. Participation by citizens in government was often limited by class distinctions. The government usually consisted of an assembly and council; the former predominated in democracies, the latter in oligarchies. Although the various city-states combined into religious or military federations, most did not endure for long in Greece, leaving it open to foreign attack by large centralized states to which it eventually submitted.


See G. Glotz, The Greek City and Its Institutions (ed. by N. Mallinson, 1930, repr. 1969); V. Ehrenberg, The Greek State (2d rev. ed. 1969, repr. 1972).


a state consisting of a sovereign city and its dependencies. Among the most famous are the great independent cities of the ancient world, such as Athens, Sparta, Carthage, and Rome
References in periodicals archive ?
Still, his book is unquestionably the most important synthesis written in English on the medieval Italian city-states.
They arose in a religious and cultural context, a millennia-old heritage of civilization that originated in the sands of the Sinai and the city-states of Greece.
The invasion brought an end to the region's independent city-states.
In contrast, some anthropologists regard Dos Pilas as having been one of many comparably powerful city-states.
Hanson acknowledges that the leaders of the assembled Greek city-states "shouted and screamed at each other" over "whether to stake all at Salamis.
By emphasizing trade, Cancuen's rulers stand in contrast with most Maya kings, who waged constant war with rival city-states, encouraging the collapse of the region's major population centers around A.
338 At the age of 18, Prince Alexander leads a Macedonian army to victory over the Greek city-states of Athens and Thebes.
major city-states in Turkey, Mesopotamia, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Excavations conducted over the past 15 years indicate that southern Mesopotamian city-states, each consisting of one or two cities serving as political hubs and providing goods and services to thousands of people living in nearby farming villages, established outposts in neighboring territories lying within modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.
In the early 8th century, Dos Pilas became a large Maya kingdom through conquest of nearby city-states.