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Towns in England, such as Norwich, York, Exeter, and Rye, are compared with towns in the Netherlands, such as Antwerp, Leiden, 's-Hertogenbosch and Valenciennes, to see how the magistrates' relations with central government and the urban populace were modified by war. Great noblemen from the Howard and Percy families are set alongside their equivalents from the houses of Croy and Egmond to examine the role of recruitment, army command, and heroic reputation in maintaining noble power. The wider interactions of subjects and rulers in wartime are reviewed to measure how effectively war extended princes' claims on their subjects' loyalty and service, their ambitions to control news and opinion and to promote national identity, and their ability to manage the economy and harness religious change to dynastic purposes. The result is a compelling but nuanced picture of societies and polities tested and shaped by the pressures of ever more demanding warfare.