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Book description

Between 1550 and 1750 London became the greatest city in Europe and one of the most vibrant economic and cultural centres in the world. This book is a history of London during this crucial period of its rise to world-wide prominence, during which it dominated the economic, political, social and cultural life of the British Isles, as never before nor since. London incorporates the best recent work in urban history, contemporary accounts from Londoners and tourists, and fictional works featuring the city in order to trace London's rise and explore its role as a harbinger of modernity, while examining how its citizens coped with those achievements. London covers the full range of life in London, from the splendid galleries of Whitehall to the damp and sooty alleyways of the East End. Readers will brave the dangers of plague and fire, witness the spectacles of the Lord Mayor's Pageant and the hangings at Tyburn, and take refreshment in the city's pleasure-gardens, coffee-houses and taverns.


'[London is] a serious and remarkably successful attempt to describe how the city reached the cusp of 'modernity', how it emerged from relative obscurity in the middle of the sixteenth century to become, about 200 years later, 'the greatest city in Europe', with a population whose distinctive traits are recognizable to this day.'

Jonathan Yardley Source: The Washington Post

‘A good deal of erudition lightly conveyed.’

Source: Prospect Magazine

‘As an account of how and why London is London, this is the best book to come along in a generation.’

Source: British Heritage

‘… intriguing …’

Source: The Times Higher Education Supplement

'How this place became a real world city is the underlying story at the heart of [this book] … England and London in 1550 were slightly peripheral places, and certainly in the shadow of some of the true great cities of Europe and beyond. By 1750, however, London had been transformed into a place of innovation, wealth, power and progress, and England was well on the path to becoming a nation that was to shape much of the history of the world over the next two centuries. The story is also deeply human and very colourful … I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book …'

Nicholas Walton Source: New Books Network (

‘A good read and makes me want to wander the streets of London even more.’

Source: Church Times

'In this attractive and engaging book, Robert Bucholz and Joe Ward set out to offer a history of early modern London - something we currently lack … this is a London that will serve students well, and should attract a wider readership.'

Patrick Wallis Source: The London Journal

'A fantastic resource for students and scholars of London’s diverse and changing communities during the early modern period. Handsomely illustrated with maps, engravings, etchings, paintings and news-sheet covers, the book takes a holistic approach to its subject.'

Adam Hansen Source: The Literary London Journal

'… Robert Bucholz and Joseph Ward have achieved their aim of writing an accessible work which will be of particular value to newcomers to metropolitan history.'

P. Gauci Source: The English Historical Review

'… an impressive resource: Bucholz and Ward synthesize the political and cultural changes they examine with an arsenal of statistics, references, and official and literary quotes. The authors have compiled a comprehensive academic study, a vital resource for scholars of all stages of research in early modern British (and European) geography, architecture and the arts, cultural trends, and governmental and social hierarchy.'

Source: Sixteenth Century Journal

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Further Reading
General Histories of London
Ackroyd, P. 2000
Barker, F.Jackson, P.London: 2,000 Years of a City and Its PeopleNew York 1974
Gray, R. 1979
Hibbert, C. 1969
Inwood, S. 1998
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Richardson, J.The Annals of London: A Year-by-Year Record of a Thousand Years of HistoryBerkeley 2000
Russell, J. 1997
General Works on London 1550–1750
Clark, P.Slack, PLondonEnglish Towns in Transition 1500–1700Oxford 1976
Earle, P. 1994
Imagining Early Modern London: Perceptions and Portrayals of the City from Stow to Strype, 1598–1720Merritt, J. F.Cambridge 2001
Londinopolis: Essays in the Cultural and Social History of Early Modern LondonGriffiths, P.Jenner, M. S. R.Manchester 2000
London in the Age of ReformStevenson, J.Oxford 1977
Marshall, D. 1968
Material London, ca. 1600Orlin, L. C.Philadelphia 2000
Merritt, J. F. 2005
Picard, L. 2003
Picard, L. 1997
Picard, L. 2000
Rappaport, S.Social Structure and Mobility in Sixteenth-Century LondonLondon Journal IX 1983
Rappaport, S.Worlds Within Worlds: Structures of Life in Sixteenth-Century LondonCambridge 1989
Rudé, G.Hanoverian London 1714–1808Berkeley and Los Angeles 1971
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Court and Government
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Popular Culture and Entertainment
Altick, R. D. 1978
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Poverty and Charity
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Griffiths, P.Building Bridewell: London's Self-Images, 1550–1640Local Identities in Late Medieval and Early Modern EnglandJones, N. L.Woolf, D. R.Basingstoke 2007
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Hitchcock, T. 2004
Jordan, W. K. 1960
Macfarlane, S. 1986
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Crime and Punishment
Beattie, J. M.The Criminality of Women in Eighteenth-Century EnglandJournal of Social History VIII 1975
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Dabhoiwala, F.The Pattern of Sexual Immorality in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century LondonLondinopolis: Essays in the Cultural and Social History of Early Modern LondonGriffiths, P.Jenner, M. S. R.Manchester 2000
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Shoemaker, R.B.Prosecution and Punishment: Petty Crime and the Law in London and Rural Middlesex, c. 1660–1725Cambridge 1991
Riot and Rebellion
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Plague and Fire
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London's Religion
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London Women
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