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Citta Vecchia

towns, term and applied


CITY (Fr. cite, Lat. cicitas). In the sense in which it was first used in the Romanic languages of modern Europe, the word C., like its Latin original, was probably equiva lent to state (q.v.) (reepublica) rather than to town or borough (urbs, municipiuni); and whilst the latter signified a collection of hearths and households, governed by munici pal laws internally, but subject externally to the laws of the country of which they formed a part, the former was applied only to such towns as, with their surrounding district, were independent of any external authority whatever. Nearly the only cities in this sense now are the free towns of Germany, and such of the cantons of Switzer land as consist chiefly of a town and its surroundings, for example, Geneva. But as the ancient Gauls, though composing one nation, were divided into tribes, living in dif ferent cantons, each with its town, to which the term cicitas was applied, and as they also acknowledged a species of central authority, several cities sending delegates to a central one of greater extent and importance to discuss their common affairs, there is reason to believe that the term C. was applied par excellence to these central places of

meeting, and that it thus, from a very early period, signified a capital or metropolis, though not independent. In England. the term is said to be confined to towns or boroughs which are or have been the seats of bishops' sees, but this restriction rests on no sufficient ground. " The cities of this kingdom are certain towns of principal note and importance, all of which either arc or have been sees of bishops; yet there seems to be no necessary connection between a city and a see."—Stephen's p. 124. In America, the term is applied to all towns which are incorporated and governed by a mayor and aldermen. See BOROUGH.

the case of towns which have grown greatly beyond their original dimensions, it is not unusual to give the name of C. to the space which they originally occupied—thus, we speak of the C. of London, the C. of Paris, or Vienna, etc.