University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

London calling! Lost Londons change, crime and control in the capital city, 1550-1660

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

  • Richard Connors
  • Lynn Botelho
  • Tim Hitchcock
  • Ian W. Archer
  • Patricia Fumerton
  • Paul Griffiths
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
Pages (from-to)213-240
JournalHistoire Sociale-Social History
Journal publication dateMay 2010
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


London, thou art of townes A per se.
Soveraign of cities, semeliest in sight,
Of high renoun, riches, and royaltie;
Of lordis, barons, and many goodly knyght;
Of most delectable lusty ladies bright
Of famous prelatis in habitis clericall;
Of merchauntis full of substaunce and myght:
London, thou art the flour of Cities all

(Anonymous, sixteenth century)
Hell is a city much like London—
A populous and a smoky city;
There are all sorts of people undone,
And there is little or no fun done;
Small justice shown, and still less pity.

(Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Hell," pt. 3, st. 1, Peter Bell the Third)
Divided by three centuries, these differing visions of London offer images and elicit emotions that would have been all too familiar to the Tudor and Hanoverian Englishmen and women for whom they were written. The first anonymous sixteenth century quotation, drawn from the aptly titled poem London and once ascribed to the Scottish poet and priest William Dunbar, provides readers with idyllic impressions of a city (and its people) divinely blessed with virtue, wealth, beauty, and learning. London was, quite literally, in the eyes of the poet, "Soveraign of cities." Over the next two or three centuries, London not only came to dominate the British Isles, but it also became the metropole of a burgeoning archipelagic, and then global, empire. 1 Moreover, as it grew in size and scope throughout the early modern period, so too did the challenges and problems that faced the city fathers and inhabitants of the "old Smoke."


Original paper can be found at: Copyright University of Toronto Press [Full text of this paper is not available in the UHRA]

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