Cover image for London : a history
London : a history
Sheppard, F. H. W. (Francis Henry Wollaston), 1921-
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xv, 442 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Urban origins -- Early Londinium -- Change and decay -- Londinium and Lundenwic c.400-c.886 -- From Lundenburg to the birth of a municipal commune c.886-1215 -- The emergence of the medieval capital c.1216-c.1530 -- The rise of the metropolis -- Religious and educational revolution -- Political revolutions -- The processes of growth -- The administration of the metropolis -- Death and life in London -- The growth and structure of London -- London and the genesis of the industrial economy -- Religion, education, and leisure -- Metropolitan politics and metropolitan class -- Structures of the modern metropolis -- The people of London -- The imperial and global metropolis -- The inter-war years 1914-1939 -- World War II 1939-1945 -- Disruptions 1945- 1997 -- Valediction.
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Material Type
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DA677 .S54 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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London has for most of 2,000 years been the hub of the political, economic, and cultural life of Britain. No other world city has held such a dominant national position for so long. This new study, by the doyen of London historians, describes London's diverse past, from its origins as a Romansettlement at the first bridging of the Thames to the world-class metropolis it is today. It provides a vivid account of a city which was the `deere sweete' place which Chaucer loved more than any other city on earth, which was for Dickens his `magic lantern', and to Keats `a great sea', howling formore wrecks. It is also a story of much contrast and remarkable resilience; through great fires and pestilence, civil war, and the Blitz, London has rebuilt and reinvented itself for each generation.

Author Notes

General editor of the multi-volume Survey of London 1954-1982

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"When a man is tired of London . . ." For readers who are tired neither of London nor of life, this chronicle of a great city will be instructive and highly enjoyable. Sheppard, a Londoner and leading authority on his city's past, traces the evolution of a market town on the periphery of the Roman Empire into a great commercial and financial center at the heart of a gigantic sea-based empire. In his later chapters, Sheppard provides a fascinating discourse on the present and future of London and its role in the new Europe. Sheppard clearly has a deep affection for the city, its history, and its people, all of which comes through in his enthusiastic and easily digestible prose. Anglophiles, urban specialists, and those readers who merely want to learn about a great city will find a treasure trove of insight and information here. --Jay Freeman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Veteran British historian (The Treasury of London's Past) and editor (Survey of London) Sheppard serves up a concise book that covers the entire history of the city of London in under 400 pages. Divided into six sections, the book examines Londinium, the city founded by the Romans; the city's development through the Middle Ages to the year 1530; Augustan and Georgian London from 1700 to 1830; Metropolitan and Imperial London from 1830 to 1914; and the modern era through 1997, the latter aptly titled "The Uncertain Metropolis." What saves Sheppard's study from the dangers of dry summary and over-concision is the author's evident keen interest in his subject. A plus is that Sheppard's knowledge isn't limited to London; he offers pertinent comparisons with other cities throughout. However, one modern comparison with Paris, meant to point up the difference between French decisiveness and British equivocation in cultural matters, misfires: Sheppard complains that the new British library took some 26 years to build, whereas the French building was opened only eight years after French President François Mitterrand argued for it. What Sheppard omits is the international dismay over the many ills caused by the haste of the French project. No matter. Sheppard is something like a more shy and modest Braudel focusing on his own narrow isle instead of the vast, gaudy Mediterranean; he earns our thanks for his decades of concentration and for the ever-refreshing zest and affection with which he describes his beloved city. 61 illustrations. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

In recent decades, London's history has been a popular topic for innumerable articles and monographs about the city, as well as for general histories (e.g., Geoffrey Trease's London, a Concise History, CH, Dec'75; Christopher Hibbert's London: The Biography of a City, 1980; and Roy Porter's London: A Social History, CH, Jun'95). Sheppard, author of London 1808-1870: The Infernal Wen (CH, Nov'72), has joined the fray with his history of London from Julius Caesar to the present. This is the best general history of London to date. Sheppard incorporates current research and achieves a nice balance between economic, cultural, political, and social history. Unlike other writers, he compares London to the development of Continental cities, especially Paris, and places London in the broader context of British and European history. He is weakest on contemporary London; one would like more analysis of the acute problems facing London today. Sheppard is not a doomsayer; he has high hopes for the future of London. The book is well written and a good read, in part because it exudes the author's love of London. Extensive bibliography. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. W. J. Hoffman Jr. Hiram College



PART I Londinium Introduction London was founded by the Romans. When Julius Caesar and his expeditionary force reached the River Thames for the first time in the year 54 B C they found no town or even any permanent settlement there. In his account of his two expeditions to Britain (the first one, a quick reconnaissance raid in the previous year, had not penetrated as far as the Thames) Caesar only mentions one town, the capital of the British chief, Cassivellaunus, which, so some scholars now think, was at Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire. In Caesar's day it was, in his own words, `a natural stronghold of the surrounding forest and swamps, into which large numbers of both cattle and men had already flocked'. Though the Britons call it a town [ oppidum ], he continues, `it was so only in the British acceptation of the term, by which is meant no more than a central rallying-point from hostile incursion, formed of some inaccessible piece of woodland that has been fortified by a high rampart and ditch'. There were, in fact, no towns in the modern sense of the word in Britain before the Romans; and if London had existed even in the old British sense, Caesar would certainly have tried to capture it (as he did indeed capture Cassivellaunus' citadel) and would therefore have mentioned it).     The Romans were great town builders. For them the city state of the classical world was the natural form of social organization, and city life was regarded as the norm throughout the Mediterranean basin. Along the coastal belt of North Africa there were over three hundred municipia , and in Provence and Languedoc in Southern Gaul the numerous colonia established for retired army veterans included such towns later known as Arles, Orange, and Nimes. In these regions the process of urbanization had already made substantial headway in pre-Roman times under Greek auspices, but further away from the Mediterranean pre-Roman centres were much fewer. Under the Romans those which had natural advantages of situation soon became flourishing towns. Lyons, for instance, at the confluence of the Rhone and the Saone, became the Roman capital city of all the Gauls; and Paris had existed for several centuries as a riverside settlement of the Parissi tribe on the Ile de la Cite. But in Britain such centres as existed in pre-Roman times were for the most part not situated at the topographically nodal points later favoured by the imperial administrators; and by their names such ancient cities as Gloucester, Lincoln, or Cirencester, testify to their specifically Roman foundation.     By contrast the name London -- or Londinium, to give it its standard Roman form -- proclaims no clear message about origins. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, writing in the twelfth century AD, the city had been founded in the year 1108 BC by Brute, a god or demigod descended from Venus and Jupiter. Some thousand years later King Lud, supposedly a near relative of Cassivellaunus, had improved the place by constructing `faire buildings, Towers and Walles', and named it Caire-Lud, or Ludstown, in honour of himself, John Stow, the Elizabethan historian whose Survey of London was first published in 1598, did not believe a word of all this, but he was not convinced by any alternative explanation either. The Celtic root `Lond' has more recently been sometimes explained as `town of Londinos', a personal name based on londo , `fierce'; but it might also refer to a local topographical feature. Many modern scholars profess a cheerful agnosticism on the matter.     Archaeological excavations in and near the historic core of London (i.e. the City) have revealed a number of scattered artefacts dating from pre-Roman times. In Southwark traces of Iron Age occupation have been discovered, an Iron Age grave has been found within the Tower, and at Bermondsey farming was evidently taking place in the period 2000-1000 BC; but no evidence of any permanent prehistoric settlement in the City has been found. What is certain, however, is that the Romans often made use of native names and Latinized them, and that within a very few years of the conquest in AD 43 the place was known as Londinium. Chapter One Urban Origins The Roman invasion of Britain took place under the auspices of the Emperor Claudius, who ruled from AD 41 to 54. His reason for undertaking this hazardous project seems to have been more concerned with his own insecure position in Rome than with any inducements that Britain could offer. He had unexpectedly been elevated to the throne by the praetorian guard, the corps d'elite of the Roman army, members of which had been involved in the murder of his nephew and predecessor, Caligula. So what Claudius needed, if he was to avoid a similar fate, was military glory--the only means by which this hitherto awkward and retiring man could hope to keep the loyalty and respect of his formidable guardians.     The Britain to which Claudius' army came had changed considerably since Caesar's day. Like large parts of the continent of Europe it had for centuries been inhabited by Celtic Iron Age peoples, the relatively recently arrived Belgic branch of which was already in Caesar's time, as he himself noted, firmly settled in the south-eastern part of the island. A century later the ascendant tribal kingdom here was that of the Catuvellauni, whose famous King Cunobelinus (Shakespeare's Cymbeline) was minting coins at both Verulamium (St Albans) and Camulodunum (Colchester), and whose influence also extended into Kent. After Caesar's conquest of Gaul and the ensuing Romanization of that new province trade between Britain and the Continent, which had hitherto been concentrated at the port of Hengistbury Head (near Christchurch, in Hampshire), was evidently conducted on a much larger scale. Strabo, the Greek geographer who wrote about midway between Caesar's and Claudius' incursions, says that the British chiefs had submitted to the payment of Roman duties on both imports and exports to and from Britain. Much of this trade was in luxury goods, imports consisting of oil, ivory, amber, glass, `and other petty wares of that sort', and exports including gold, silver, and hunting dogs, as well as the slaves for which Britain was long famous. There were also more workaday British products--grain, iron, and hides, all of which would have been needed in large quantities by the Roman armies stationed in the region of the Rhine in the early years of the first century AD. For commerce of this kind the harbours and inlets of the Kent and Essex coasts, and above all of the Thames Estuary, rather than distant Hengistbury Head, provided the natural location. In this transference of the principal scene of commercial activity, which took place during the century or so between 54 BC and AD 43, may be seen the first faint assertion of the geographical power of what was to become Britain's economic centre of gravity.     Aulus Plautius, who had previously been governor of the frontier province of Pannonia (Hungary) on the Danube, was the commander of the Claudian army. This is thought to have amounted to some 40,000 men, half of them being legionaries of predominantly Italian birth and the other half being auxiliaries recruited from more recently conquered territories. Despite the enormous strength of the force the expedition got off to a bad start, for, as Cassius Dio, our main source for these momentous events, relates, the soldiers refused to embark in a campaign `outside the limits of the known world'. After some delay, however--which made their departure very late in the season--they agreed to go, and the fleet of transports set sail across the Channel in three divisions. The place or places of landing are not known, though it seems likely that Richborough, near Sandwich in Kent, was one of them, and no opposition was at first encountered. However, a stiff two-day battle somewhere along the River Medway (perhaps near Rochester) soon ensued, in which Aulus Plautius won the initiative by sending across a detachment of German auxiliaries specially trained to swim in full armour. Thereafter the Britons retreated westwards to the River Thames, which with their knowledge of the country they had no difficulty in crossing; and soon afterwards the Roman army arrived in the London area for the first time.     The Thames was then very much wider and shallower than it is now. Around the site of the later London Bridge the river was tidal, and at high tide it was some five times as wide as it is now (some 1,000 metres compared with the present c.200 metres). The general scene confronting Aulus Plautius and his men was probably very similar to the great expanses of marshy fiats or saltings still to be seen in many of the inlets along the coasts of East Anglia, to which wind and rain and sometimes tide still bring flood waters. On the south side of the river this alluvial strip, broken up by numerous muddy creeks, was about 1 kilometre wide opposite to the future site of the City, narrowing to about 200 metres opposite that of the Palace of Westminster. There, on the north side, the topography was much the same as on the south side, but further downstream at the future City site were several squat low hills or plateaux, with steep descents to the swampy ill-defined margin of the river.     Cassius Dio says that `the Britons retired to the river Thames at a point where it empties into the ocean and at flood-tide forms a lake. This they easily crossed because they knew where the firm ground and the easy passages in this region were to be found; but the Romans in attempting to follow them were not so successful. However, the Germans swam across again and some others got over by a bridge a little way upstream, after which they assailed the barbarians from several sides at once and cut down many of them. In pursuing the remainder incautiously, they got into swamps from which it was difficult to make their way out, and so lost a number of men.'     Where these various events took place is not known. Fords used in the Iron Age probably existed at Brentford, Fulham, Battersea, and Westminster, and the retreating Britons may have used any or all of these. It is extremely unlikely, however, that any bridge, such as that mentioned by Cassius Dio, existed before the Romans' arrival. He may, of course, have meant that some detachments of the Roman army had got across by a temporary pontoon bridge which they had themselves built--Julius Caesar is known to have built a bridge across the Rhine in ten days; but it is perhaps more likely that Dio, who was writing a century and a half after the event, confused this supposed native bridge with the London Bridge later built by the Romans.     Dio goes on to record that because of the continuing resistance of the Britons `and because of the difficulties he had encountered at the Thames, Plautius became afraid, and instead of advancing any further, proceeded to guard what he had already won, and sent for [the Emperor] Claudius', as he had been instructed to do `in case he met with any particularly stubborn resistance'.     Claudius was at that time in Rome, and at least six weeks must have elapsed before he arrived in Britain to take personal command. During this enforced wait Aulus Plautius would probably have consolidated his bridgehead by a fort on the north side of the river, and started to secure his communications with Gaul by a road to his base at Richborough. In order to protect these communications from being cut by the Britons, the natural point for such a fort would be at the lowest place where the Thames could in normal conditions be forded. This was almost certainly at Westminster, where it seems the river was not then tidal. There, surrounded by the adjacent swampy alluvial plain and by the Tyburn stream, rose the little island of Thorney, on the flood plain gravel of which now stand the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey--a natural site for a somewhat beleaguered Roman commander to entrench himself; and there traces of Roman occupation, particularly beneath the Abbey and in Parliament Square, have indeed been found, though their significance is not yet clear.     So when Claudius arrived to take charge he may have found detachments of his army entrenched on Thorney Island. More reliable evidence of fortified and apparently short-lived enclosures of very early date has also been found on the site of St Bride's church, Fleet Street, and near Aldgate, and it seems likely that by the time of the Emperor's arrival one or more bridgeheads existed somewhere on the north side of the river. At all events Claudius had no difficulty in advancing northward and capturing the chief centre of the Catuvellauni at Camulodunum (Colchester). Numerous tribes thereupon capitulated, and Claudius sailed away after a stay of only sixteen days, leaving Aulus Plautius with orders to subjugate the rest of the island. The first stage of the conquest was over.     Neither Cassius Dio nor Suetonius nor Josephus, the authors of the only surviving written accounts of these events, mention London either by name or implication during the Claudian invasion; and despite the vast enlargement of knowledge made by the archaeological discoveries of recent years, the circumstances of the origin of Londinium are still far from clear. There are, however, good reasons for thinking that the foundation of the city did not take place until five or ten years after the arrival of the Romans in AD 43.     Important evidence for this relates to the alignment of the roads built by the Romans in the area, and to the position of the first river-crossing. Two of the earliest of these highways were those from the port of Richborough to London and from near London to Verulamium (St Albans). The former was built to provide a direct line of communication between Plautius' army beside the Thames and his Channel base, and the latter to provide a route forward to the interior of the island and to the nearest large native centre, exceeded in importance only by Camulodunum. Both these roads are called Watling Street, though this may not be of any significance. Of much greater interest is the fact that the alignment of both of them points towards the supposed ford at Westminster and not to the London Bridge area. The Kentish Watling Street extends westwards towards Westminster virtually straight for 12 miles as far as Greenwich, where it is within sight of the ford. From Greenwich its westward continuation becomes unclear. Some deviation would certainly have been necessary to avoid the swampy ground around Deptford. Traces of a road have been found in Peckham, and eighteenth-century antiquaries mention a Roman road leading across St George's Fields (then unbuilt upon) to the significantly named Stangate Ferry opposite to the Palace of Westminster and the Abbey. On the north side of the river the modern Edgware Road follows the course of the other Roman Watling Street, but no trace of any Roman road has been found south of the south end of Edgware Road at Marble Arch. The alignment of the highway does, however, point to the supposed ford at Westminster, not to the London Bridge area. It is unthinkable that either of these two highways would have been aligned on the Westminster ford if a better crossing or even perhaps a bridge already existed a couple of miles lower down the river; so it seems certain that they were built before any crossing around London Bridge had come into use. The recent discovery of a first-century road near the south end of the later bridge and evidently leading towards the Westminster crossing would, if confirmed, provide corroborative evidence for the existence of a ford there and of a strong Roman presence in its vicinity before the foundation of Londinium.     From all this it follows that that foundation must have been the result of deliberate Roman policy. A considerable body of modern archaeological evidence shows that the decision was made in about AD 50-5. By that time the invading army had overrun most of southern Britain and established a `frontier' just beyond the Fosse Way, which extends diagonally across the country from Ilchester in Somerset to Lincoln. The financial and economic exploitation of this newly pacified area could therefore begin, and Camulodunum, Verulamium, and Canterbury all trace their origins as Roman cities to the mid-century years. But at Londinium the task was different. It was a `green field' site, and so there was no native settlement on which Roman institutions could be grafted, as was the usual practice elsewhere in Britain. At Londinium the task was also made much more formidable by the overriding need for an effective river crossing. Such a crossing was, indeed, Londinium's raison d'etre , but the formidable engineering works needed to provide it can only have been carried out through the active direction of the Roman authorities and perhaps of the governor, who in about AD 50 was Publius Ostorius Scapula. Perspectives Of all the hundreds of towns founded by the Romans throughout their Empire, or reconstituted from earlier settlements, none has had a greater influence on the course of human affairs than London. In Britain, other cities of Roman origin like Colchester, Cirencester, or York are not of the same order as London. Nor, when viewed across the perspective of nearly two thousand years, are even such great Roman centres as Cologne, Lyons, or Cordoba. Only Paris, Constantinople, and Rome itself can stand comparison with London.     At all these cities, and, indeed, at all towns and cities everywhere, the physical landscape of the earth provides a basic ingredient in the shaping of each individual history; and at London as elsewhere the geological strata, the location in relation to the sea and to other lands, and the nature of the site itself have all been powerful agents in the formation of the city. Millions of years ago, when the surface of the earth ceased to heave and bulge, what is now the London Basin of the Thames Valley began to take something like its present shape--that of an arrowhead, pointing westward to the Goring Gap. There, some 45 miles west of London, the Thames flows through a narrow cleft flanked on either side by two long low ranges of chalk hills: the Chilterns, extending north-eastwards towards Cambridgeshire, and the western tip of the North Downs, extending (with breaks) eastwards through Surrey and Kent. The V-shaped declivity between these two chalk escarpments was for an immeasurable period covered by a shallow sea. On the bottom of this was deposited the sediment now called London Clay, which varies in thickness from 15 to 500 feet in different parts of London. But clay drains badly, and such land as existed was swampy, covered with tropical trees and plants, and frequented by crocodiles and what the Geological Survey describes as `very odd-looking creatures from a present-day point of view'.     In the London Clay fragments of fossilized plants washed down from the land have been found. This indicates that this muddy sea or lagoon was really the estuary of a large river, the course of which varied greatly over the ages in response to climatic changes. During the Ice Ages much of the northern hemisphere, including most of Britain, was intermittently covered with sheets of ice. As less water reached the sea through either rivers or rainfall, the level of the ocean fell. It has been estimated that during one such glacial period the sea was at least 330 feet (100 metres) lower than it is today, and Britain still formed part of the Continental land mass. But interspersed between these great freeze-ups, when the mean annual temperature was perhaps 10 [degrees] C colder than it is now, there were warm periods of some fifty thousand or more years. The ice melted and the rivers produced torrential discharges which, in the case of the Thames, deposited a layer of gravel and sand up to 100 feet in thickness upon the clay bottom of the sea. In northern Europe there were several such climatic oscillations, and at each thaw the force of the river scooped out a fresh trough in the gravel brought down on the previous postglacial flood, most of which remained undisturbed. Eventually, however, after some half-million years, the Thames settled into a more or less stable course, flanked on either side by a belt of alluvium and peat deposited in more recent but still prehistoric times. These flat and marshy areas, now such districts of London as Rotherhithe, Pimlico, or the Isle of Dogs, were in their turn flanked by a series of ascending terraces of gravel, each one marking a major glacial episode of the faraway Pleistocene age. The width of these terraces varied greatly in different parts of the course of the river, the alluvial plain, for instance, being anything from a few hundred feet to a mile in extent. The numerous tributaries of the Thames, such as the Wandle or the Lea or the Westbourne, carved out their own little valleys at right angles, cutting across the terraces of the main river to form a geological pattern of great complexity. Yet even when obscured by modern streets and buildings and engineering works it is still sometimes possible to detect the gradient between one main terrace and another, as, for instance, in the Haymarket or in South Kensington at Exhibition Road, which slopes upwards past the Science Museum to Hyde Park through three different terrace levels.     The gravel deposits drained better than the remaining clay areas further away from the river, where the heavy wet soil encouraged the growth of dense impenetrable forest. So it is in the gravel areas, often near the river where fish provided abundant food, that man first settled in the London Basin. At Swanscombe, near Gravesend in Kent, pieces of a human skull not dissimilar to Homo sapiens have been found. They are thought to date from the last-but-one interglacial warm period, some 250,000 years ago, and are the earliest known fossilized human remains in Britain. At Acton and Stoke Newington there are traces of early toolmaking, extending over long periods of time; and the numerous finds of prehistoric weapons and tools which have been made in many parts of the London area, notably at Hampstead, Putney, and above all at Brentford, indicate a sizeable though scattered human presence for thousands of years before the Roman invasion. On the future site of Londinium itself, however, no settlement has been found.     Most of this human activity took place after the final retreat of the glaciers, which at their maximum extent are thought to have reached what are now the northern outskirts of London. After the end of the Ice Ages--in perhaps around c.11,000 BC--the climate improved, the level of the ocean therefore rose, and in about 5,000-7,000 BC the sea cut through the bridge of land to continental Europe, and Britain became an island.     After the coming of man this was the most important single event in the history of Britain, and the modern geographical forms which then took shape determined the course of much of London's history. The Thames estuary is situated opposite to the mouth of the greatest inland waterway into continental Europe--the Rhine, from which it is separated only by a narrow strip of sea. During all the centuries before the ages of steam and of motor and airborne transport the Rhine was the principal commercial highway of the Western world, along which passed ceaselessly up and down the goods of Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and even of the East; and as the facts of geography usually change relatively little, the Rhine is still, despite the successive transport revolutions of recent times, the jugular vein of modern European trade, its importance still increasing. On or near to its northern outlets in the Low Countries there grew up many of the richest cities (in their day) of the Continent--Bruges, Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp--all easily accessible from the Thames estuary; and through the Narrow Seas was funnelled all the oceangoing trade of the Baltic and the towns of the Hanseatic League.     Inland, the Thames provided access deep into southern England, which has always been the richest part of Britain. For centuries this concentration of wealth was in some part due to the natural system of internal communication provided by such waterways as the Severn, the Bristol Avon, and the winding rivers of East Anglia; while the Thames and its numerous tributaries, notably the Kennet and the Lea, extended its commercial catchment area into some half-dozen of the more prosperous counties of England.     So London's situation at the head of the Thames estuary is a natural focal point of commerce. Internally it has always been the gateway to a rich hinterland which since the. development of mass land transport has extended far beyond the confines of the Thames Basin. Externally it adjoins the world's busiest shipping lanes, and is located at the head of the long line of commercial and industrial centres which extends from North Italy, along the Rhine and through the Low Countries to London. Paris, by contrast, or Lutetia, to use its Roman name, has enjoyed different natural advantages. Although it was far from the sea and not even the lowest crossing point of the Seine and so not a magnet for trade, it was always nevertheless a strategically vital centre of communication, from which roads radiated out to all four points of the compass. Even before the Roman conquest there had been a Celtic oppidum on the Ile de la Cite, unlike in Londinium, where there had been no pre-Roman settlement; and in the fourth century two Roman emperors made their base headquarters at Lutetia during the conduct of expeditions against the Germans.     For London the influence exerted by geographical circumstances has almost always been beneficial; but this has not always been the case elsewhere. In England at the once flourishing ports of Richborough, Rye, and Winchilsea the sea has receded; at Bruges the river has silted up, and at Venice the discovery of the New World jolted world trade routes into new courses, much to the benefit of the ports of Northern Europe, including London, where there has never been any such physical calamity. Even the recent shifting of the docks downstream to Tilbury has brought renewed vigour to an obsolescent area of the metropolis. The fact that the principal roads laid down by the Romans, the principal railways built by the Victorians, and the principal motorways and air routes of more modern times all radiate out from London provides striking evidence of the largely unchanging power of geographical forces. So it comes as no surprise that London's Heathrow is the busiest international airport in the world, while the runner-up in this league is London's second airport, Gatwick. Moreover the happy chance of great distance from and hence great difference of time from both New York and Tokyo has allowed London (at any rate at the time of writing) to remain one of the three principal financial centres of the world. Location has certainly favoured London throughout the ages.     London has also been blessed in other ways. War, religious strife, and politics have all contributed to the relative decline of other great cities. Cases in point include Venice, menaced by the Turks' advances in the Mediterranean in the sixteenth century; Antwerp, in the same century the first commercial city of the emerging new Atlantic economy, ravaged by religious tumult and the Spanish army; Cologne, where the expulsion of the Jews, the exclusion of Protestants from citizenship, and frequent wars all induced a long slow decline; or Vienna, an imperial city suddenly deprived in 1919 of its empire. London, however, has hardly suffered from such untoward events except during the Dark Ages, when it probably ceased to exist as a city, before re-emerging as a trading centre and frontier town fought over by rival regional kingdoms. The re-establishment of central power and order brought better times for London; and when authority broke down again during the Civil War in the seventeenth century London, far from experiencing a setback, had a crucial role in resolving the conflict and emerged more authoritative within the realm than ever before.     London has indeed always prospered within the political framework provided by a powerful unitary state. In England such a state has existed continuously for longer than anywhere else in the world; and one of the reasons for this--in fact probably the principal reason--is that the sea has provided Britain with fixed frontiers unviolated from outside for almost a thousand years. Thus geography and politics are intertwined. Britain is, and has been for centuries, a small compact island, its rich southern regions endowed with good natural internal communications uninterrupted by mountains or other physical obstacles, and its security protected by the sea and a strong system of government. These, and favourable location to other lands, are the basic ingredients in the making of London, first into the political capital of the realm and the head of the national commercial market, and then (for a while) into the principal centre of trade throughout the whole world.

Table of Contents

Part I Londinium:
1 Urban origins
2 early Londinium
3 change and decay
Part II From Londinium to the Chartered City of London, c.400-c.1530:
4 Londinium and Lundenwic c.400-c.886
5 from Lundenburg to the birth of a municipal commune c.866-1215
6 the emergence of the medieval capital c.1216-c.1530
Part III The Genesis of Modern London 1530-1700:
7 The rise of the metropolis
8 religious and educational revolution
9 political revolutions
10 the processes of growth
11 the administration of the metropolis
12 death and life in London
Part IV Augustan and Georgian London 1700-1830:
13 The growth and structure of London
14 London and the genesis of the industrial economy
15 religion, education and leisure
16 metropolitan politics and metropolitan class
Part V Metropolitan and Imperial London 1830-1914:
17 structures of the modern metropolis
18 the people of London
19 the imperial and global metropolis
Part VI The Uncertain Metropolis 1914-1997:
20 the inter-war years 1914-1939
World War II 1939-1945
disruptions, 1945-1997
Appendix 1 Estimates of the Population of London 1550-1801
Appendix 2 The Population of London and the South East Region 1801-1991
Notes, Bibliography, Index