An Apology of the City of LONDON.3

An Apology of the City of LONDON.

This Realm hath only three principal Rivers, whereon a Royal City may well be situated: Trent in the North, Severn in the South-West, and Thames in the South-East: Of the which, Thames, both for the strait Course in Length, reacheth farthest into the Belly of the Land; and for the Breadth and Stillness of the Water, is most navigable up and down the Stream; by Reason whereof, London standing almost in the Middle of that Course, is more commodiously served with Provision of Necessaries, than any Town standing upon any of the other two Rivers can, and doth also more easily communicate to the rest of the Realm, the Commodities of her own Entercourse and Traffick.

The Situation of London.


This River openeth indifferently upon France and Flanders; our mightiest Neighbours. To whose Doings we ought to have a bent Eye and special Regard: And this City standeth thereon in such convenient Distance from the Sea, as it is not only near enough for Intelligence of the Affairs of those Princes, and for the Resistance of their Attempts; but also sufficiently removed from the Fear of any sudden Dangers that may be offered by them: Whereas for the Prince of this Realm to dwell upon Trent, were to turn his Back, or blind Side, to his most dangerous Borderers: And for him to rest and dwell upon Severn, were to be shut up in a cumbersome Corner, which openeth upon Ireland only, a Place of much less Importance.

Neither could London be pitched so commodiously upon any other Part of the same River of Thames, as where it now standeth. For if it were removed more to the West, it should lose the Benefit of the ebbing and flowing: And if were seated more towards the East, it should be nearer to Danger of the Enemy, and farther both from the good Air, and from doing Good to the inner Parts of the Realm: Neither may I omit, that none other Place is so plentifully watered with Springs, as London is.

Springs in London.

And whereas amongst other Things, Corn and Cattel, Hay and Fuel, be of great Necessity: Of the which, Cattel may be driven from afar, and Corn may easily be transported. But Hay and Fuel, being of greater Bulk and Burden, must be had at Hand: Only London, by the Benefit of this Situation and River, may be sufficiently served therewith. In which Respect, an Alderman of London reasonably (as me thought) affirmed, That although London received great Nourishment by the Residence of the Prince, the Repair of the Parliament and Courts of Justice, yet it stood principally by the Advantage of the Situation upon the River: For when as on a Time it was told him by a Courtier, that Queen Mary, in her Displeasure against London, had appointed to remove, with the Parliament and Term, to Oxford; this plain Man demanded, Whether she meant also to divert the River of Thames from London, or no? And when the Gentleman had answered, No; Then, quoth the Alderman, by God's Grace we shall do well enough at London, whatsoever become of the Term and Parliament. I myself being then a young Scholar at Oxford, did see great Preparation made towards that Term and Parliament, and do well remember that the common Opinion and Voice was, that they were not holden there, because Provision of Hay could not be made in all the Country to serve for ten whole Days together; and yet is that Quarter plentifully stored with Hay for the Proportion of the Shire itself.

An Alderman's Question to a Courtier.

For Proof of the ancient Estimation of London, I will not use the Authority of the Bristish History, nor of such as follow it, (although some hold it credible enough that London was first Tinobantum Civitas, or Troia nova, that famous City in our Histories, and then Lud's Town, and so by Corruption London, as they report) because they be not of sufficient Force to draw the Gainsayers. Neither will I stand much upon that honourable Testimony which Gervasius Tilberiensis giveth to London in his Book De otiis Imperialibus, saying thus, concerning the Blessing of God towards it.

The ancient Estimation of London.

In Urbe London, exceptionem habet divulgatum id per omnes æquè gentes Lucani proverbium.

Invida fatorum series summisque negatum Stare diu:

Nam ea Annis 354 ante Romam condita, nunquam amisit principatum, nec bello consumpta est.

But I will rather use the Credit of one or two ancient foreign Writers, and then descend to later Histories. Cornel. Tacitus saith, Londinum copia negotiatorum, & commeatu maximè celebris, i.e. London famous for its Plenty of Traffickers and Provision. And Herodian, in the Life of Severus the Emperor, saith, Londinum Urbs magna & opulenta; i.e. London a City great and rich. Beda sheweth that Pope Gregory appointed two Archbishops Sees in England; the one at London, the other at York. King Ethelstane, in his Laws, appointing how may Mint-Masters should be in each City, allotteth eight to London, and not so many to any other City. The Penner of those Laws that are said to be made by Edward the Confessor, and confirmed by William the Conquereor, saith, London est caput Regni & Legum, i.e. London is the Head of the Kingdom, and of the Laws. King Henry the First, in the third Chapter of his Laws, commandeth that no Citizen of London should be amerced above an hundred Shillings for any pecuniary Pain. The great Charter of England, that Helena, for which there was so long and so great War and Contention, in the ninth Chapter, saith, Civitas London habeat omnes suas Libertates antiquas, &c. i.e. Let the City of London have all its ancient Liberties. About the Time of King John, London was reputed, Regni firmata Columna, i.e. The firm Pillar of the Kingdom, as Alexander Necham writeth: And in the Beginning of the Reign of King Richard the Second, it was called Camera Regis, i.e. The King's Chamber, as Thomas Walsingham reporteth. I pass over the Recital of the Saxon Charter of King William the Conqueror; the Latin Charters of Henry the First and Second; of Richard the First; of John, and of Edward the First; all which gave unto the Citizens of London great Privileges; and of Edward the Third, who reciting all the Grants of his Predecessors, not only confirmed, but also increased the same. And of the latter Kings, who have likwise added many Things thereunto. Only I wish to be noted by them, that during all this Time, all those wise and politick Princes have thought it fit, not only to maintain London in such Plight as they found it, but also to adorn, increase, and amplify it with singular Tokens of their liberal Favour and good Liking. And whether there be not now the same, or greater Causes to draw the like, or better Estimation and Cherishing, let any Man be Judge, that will take the Pains to compare the present Estate of London, yet still growing to better, with the former Condition of the same.

Lib. 4. Annal.

Lib. Eccles. 10. Chap. 29.

Princes Favours to the City.

It were too much to recite particularly the Martial Services that this City hath done from Time to Time: Neither do I think that they be all committed to Writing; only for a Taste, as it were, I will note these few following.

Martial Services of the City.

Almost threescore Years before the Conquest, a huge Army of the Danes (whereof King Sweyne was the Leader) besieged King Etheldred in London (then the which, as the Story saith, then he had none other Refuge) but they were manfully repulsed, and a great Number of them slain.