A description of the City of London (William FitzStephen, 1173)

Fun with bows and arrows

Fun with bows and arrows

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts and descriptions of the historic City of London, this memorable –  if gushing – one is taken from the prologue to William Fitzstephen’s “Vita Sancti Thomae” or “Life of St. Thomas [Becket]”, penned in or around 1173 …

“Among the noble and celebrated cities of the world that of London, the capital of the kingdom of the English, is one which extends its glory farther than all the others and sends its wealth and merchandise more widely into distant lands.  Higher than all the rest does it lift its head.  It is happy in the healthfulness of its air; in its observance of Christian practice; in the strength of its fortifications; in its natural situation; in the honour of its citizens; and in the modesty of its matrons.  It is cheerful in its sports, and the fruitful mother of noble men … .

[T]he only pests … are the immoderate drinking of foolish sorts and the frequency of fires”.

Woodcut of Norman London, from a recent edition of Fitzstephen's book

Woodcut of Norman London, from a recent edition of Fitzstephen’s book

One thought on “A description of the City of London (William FitzStephen, 1173)

  1. Pingback: Dystopian London: The Unreal City | Vanessa Thompsett

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