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London Travel Guide

From 1066 To The Black Death



The Norman invasion of Britain in 1066 is usually considered to be the beginning of the Medieval period. William, Duke of Normandy, killed English king Harold Godwinson in battle at Hastings. Although he burnt down Southwark, south of the bridge, he avoided London, instead waiting to the north-west at Berkhamsted until the city officials in London recognised him as King. They quickly did so, and William responded by granting the city a formal charter.

Under William “the Conqueror” several royal forts were constructed along the riverfront of London like the Tower of London, Baynard's Castle and Montfichet's Castle, to defend against seaborne attacks by Vikings and prevent rebellions. William the Conqueror also granted a charter in 1067 upholding previous Saxon rights, privileges and laws. Its growing self-government became firm with election rights granted by King John in 1199 and 1215.

In 1097 William Rufus, the son of William the Conqueror began the construction of 'Westminster Hall'. The hall was to become the basis of the Palace of Westminster which, throughout the Mediæval period, was the prime royal residence.

London was occupied by a continental armed force, during the First Barons' War on May 1216. This was when the young Louis VIII of France marched through the streets to St Paul's Cathedral. This was a hope for the settlements to would free the English from the tyranny of King John, but was only for temporarily time. When the French prince was 29, he decided to throw their support back to an English king when John died.

During the medieval period London grew up in two different areas. The nearby up-river town of Westminster became the Royal capital and centre of government, whereas the City of London became the centre of commerce and trade.

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