A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including (but not necessarily limited to) cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs.
Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which they are located. Often, this event is marked by the award or declaration of a municipal charter.
With the notable exception of the City of London Corporation, the term has fallen out of favour in the United Kingdom, but the concept remains central to local government in the United Kingdom, as well as former British colonies such as India and Canada.
A city charter or town charter (generically, municipal charter) is a legal document establishing a municipality such as a city or town. The concept developed in Europe during the middle ages and is considered to be a municipal version of a constitution.
Traditionally the granting of a charter gave a settlement and its inhabitants the right to town privileges under the feudal system. Townspeople who lived in chartered towns were burghers, as opposed to serfs who lived in villages. Towns were often "free", in the sense that they were directly protected by the king or emperor, and were not part of a feudal fief.