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Middle Ages

Middle Ages

Construction of London Bridge started 1176
Following a proposal made by Peter de Colechurch the first stone bridge across the River Thames was commissioned in 1176 to replace an earlier wooden structure. Construction began under de Colechurch's direction and its proportions were such that it would support buildings along its length. A chapel was built near the centre of the bridge as well as a drawbridge. The bridge spanned 900 feet of water supported by thick piers. Narrow arches constricted the flow of the river and caused powerful currents with each tidal movement. It took 33 years to complete and survived until the 19th century.
 
  
Worshipful Company of Weaver’s 1180
Formed years earlier in 1130, formal recognition of the Worshipful Company of Weavers was granted in 1180 when it became one of the first of craft Guilds in the City to receive a charter. Formation of the Guilds was crucial to the mercantile success of the City. Each controlled and regulated their craft in London, establishing codes of professional practice, including the training of apprentices. Today there are still over one hundred Livery Companies in the City of London, with new ones being established every so often as new trades are formed.
 
  
London’s rapid population growth 1300
The City of London grew substantially in wealth and population during the middle ages. In 1100 its population was around 18,000. By 1300 it had grown to nearly 100,000.

 
  
St Paul’s Cathedral rebuilt 1314
After 200 years of construction and following consecration in 1300, the fourth St Paul’s Cathedral was finally completed. The building subsequently known as Old St Paul’s survived until 1666, when the Great Fire of London destroyed it.
 
  
Football banned from the City 1363
After many attempts to prevent sporting activity in the City, King Edward III ordered his sheriffs to ban football and other idle sports from taking place within the confines of the City. This may seem mean but football in particular was hugely destructive. Teams were not restricted to a set number on each side, matches were played by opposing mobs of men who used any means to hand to gain an advantage over their opponents. Games were like riots.

 
  
The Peasants’ Revolt 1381
Working men of Kent, Suffolk and Essex marched on London in protest against an increase in taxation (a poll tax). While the main group stopped at Mile End, a splinter group ransacked the palace and beheaded Simon Sudbury the Archbishop of Canterbury on Tower Hill. The 15 year-old King Richard II and his advisors persuaded a large number to return home. They met with one of the rebel leaders Wat Tyler at Smithfield. While in conversation with the young King, Tyler was struck by William Walworth the Lord Mayor of London with his sword and fatally wounded. In the days that followed the revolt was brutally suppressed as other leaders were killed.

 
  
Richard Whittington, Mayor of London 1397
Sir Richard Whittington, wealthy London merchant was appointed Mayor of London by the King Richard II. Whittington was to be elected Mayor on three further occasions. He died in 1423 and having no heirs his estate of 7,000 pounds was left to the City to establish a number of charitable organisations as well as bequeathing funds to repair Newgate Prison and found a library at the Guildhall. His name was appropriated for the theatrical character Dick Whittington years later.
 
  
Guildhall Rebuilt 1411
Work began rebuilding Guildhall, the centre of City government in 1411. It took a further 20 years to build the magnificent hall. It is 152 feet long and 48 feet wide and, in size, is second only to Westminster Hall. Despite being partially burnt in the Great Fire of 1666 and bombed in the Second World War, some of the original medieval fabric of the building survives to this day
 
  
Princes in the Tower 1483
At 12 years-old King Edward V should have been crowned king after the death of his father Edward IV. Instead, he and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York were confined to the Tower of London while their uncle took the throne as Richard III. They were not seen alive again. A reliable account was never made known about what had happened to the Princes. It was generally believed that their uncle the King had murdered them.

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