The antiquitie of London

A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603. Originally published by Clarendon, Oxford, 1908.

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'The antiquitie of London', in A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908) pp. 1-5. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

The Suruey of London, containing the originall, antiquitie, encrease, moderne estate, and description of that Citie.

Trinouantum hath the written copie.; Liuie.

As the Romane writers to glorifie the citie of Rome drew the originall thereof from Gods and demie Gods, by the Troian progenie: so Giffrey of Monmouth the Welsh Historian, deduceth the foundation of this famous Citie of London, for the greater glorie therof, and emulation of Rome, from the very same originall. For he reporteth that Brute, lineally descended from the demy god Eneas, the sonne of Venus, daughter of Iupiter, about the yeare of the world 2855. and 1108. before the natiuitie of Christ, builded this city neare vnto the riuer now called Thames, and named it Troynouant or Trenouant. But herein as Liuie the most famous Hystoriographer of the Romans writeth, Antiquitie is pardonable, and hath an especial priuiledge, by interlacing diuine matters with humane, to make the first foundation of Cities more honourable, more sacred, and as it were of greater maiestie.

Caire Lud, the Citie of Lod, but Luds towne is a Saxon word.

King Lud (as the foresaid Giffrey of Monmouth noteth) afterward, not onely repaired this Cittie, but also increased the same with faire buildings, Towers and walles, and after his owne name called it Caire-Lud, as Luds towne, and the strong gate which he builded in the west part of the Cittie, he likewise for his owne honour named Ludgate.

This Lud had issue two sons, Androgeus, and Theomantius, who being not of age to gouerne at the death of their father, their vncle Cassibelan took upon him the crowne: about the eight yeare of whose raigne, Iulius Cæsar arriued in this land, with a great power of Romans to conquer it, the manner of which conquest I will summarily set down out of his owne Commentaries, which are of farre better credit, then the relations of Giffrey Monmouth.

Cæsar's Commentaries. li. 5.; Trinobants Citizens of London.; Mandubrace and the Trinobants yeeld to Cæsar, and he defended them.

The chiefe gouernment of the Britons, and ordering of the warres, was then by common aduice committed to Cassibilin, whose Signiorie was separated from the Cities towards the sea coast, by the riuer called Thames, about fourescore miles from the sea: this Cassibilin in times past, had made continuall warre vpon the Cities adioyning, but the Britons being mooued with the Romans inuasion, had resolued in that necessitie to make him their Soueraigne and Generall of the warres, (which continued hote betweene the Romans and them) but in the meane while, the Trynobants which was then the strongest Citie well neare of all those countries (and out of which Citie a yong gentleman called Mandubrace, vpon confidence of Cæsars help, came vnto him into the maine land of Gallia, now called France, and thereby escaped death, which he should haue suffered at Cassibilins hande,) sent their Ambassadors to Cæsar, promising to yeeld vnto him, and to doe what he should command them, instantly desiring him, to protect Mandubrace from the furious tyrrany of Cassibilin, and to sent him into their Cittie, with authoritie to take the gouernment thereof vpon him. Cæsar. accepted the offer, and appoynted them to giue vnto him 40. Hostages, and withall to finde him graine for his armie, and so sent he Mandubrace vnto them.

When others saw that Cæsar had not onely defended the Trinobants against Cassibilin, but had also saued them harmelesse from the pillage of his owne souldiers, then did the Conimagues, Segontians, Ancalits, Bibrokes, and Cassians, likewise submit themselues vnto him, and by them hee learned that not farre from thence was Cassibilins. towne, fortified with woods, and marish ground, into the which he had gathered a great number both of men and cattell.

Cassibilins towne west from London, for Cæsar saith 80. miles from the sea. Cities of the Britaines were combersome woods fortified.

For the Brittons cal that a towne (saith Cæsar) when they haue fortified a combersome wood with a ditch and rampire, and thether they resort to abide the approach of their enemies, to this place therefore marched Cæsar with his Legions, hee found it excellentlie fortified, both of nature, and by mans aduice: neuerthelesse he resolued to assault it in two seuerall places at once, whereupon the Britons, beeing not able to endure the force of the Romans, fledde out at another part, and left the towne vnto him: a great number of cattell he found there, and many of the Britons he slue, and others he tooke in the chase.

Whilest these things were a doing in these quartes, Cassibilin sent messengers into Kent, which lieth upon the sea, in which there raigned then 4. particular kings, named Cingetorex, Caruill, Taximagull, and Segonax, whom he commanded to raise all their forces, and suddenly to set vppon, and assault the Romanes in their trenches, by the sea side: the which when the Romanes perceyued, they salied out vpon them, slue a great sort of them, and taking Cingetorix their noble Captaine prisoner, retired themselues to their campe in good safetie.

Brytaine sessed to pay a yearly tribute to the Romanes.

When Cassibilin heard of this, and had formerly taken many other losses, and found his Countrey sore wasted, and himselfe left almost alone by the defection of the other cities, he sent Ambassadors by Comius of Arras to Cæsar, to entreate with him concerning his owne submission, the which Cæsar did accept, and taking Hostages, assessed the realme of Brytaine to a yearely tribute, to be paied to the people of Rome, giuing straight charge to Cassibilin, that he should not seeke any reuenge vpon Mandubrace, or the Trinobantes, and so withdrew his army to the sea againe.

Trinobant now London.; Cities of the Britanines not artificially builed with houses, nor walled with stone.; Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Tacitus, Dion.; London most famous for Marchants & intercourse.

Thus farre out of Cæsars Commentaries concerning this Historie, which happened in the yeare before Christes natiuitie 54. In all which processe there is for this purpose to bee noted, that Cæsar nameth the Cittie of Trinobantes, which hath a resemblance with Troy noua, or Trinobantum, hauing no greater difference in the Orthographie, then chaunging b. into v. and yet maketh an error whereof I will not argue, onely this I will note that diuerse learned men do not thinke ciuitas Trinobantum, to be well and truely translated, the Citie of the Trinobantes: but it should rather be the state, comunalty; or Signiory of the Trinobantes: for that Cæsar in his Commentaries vseth the word ciuitas, onely for a people liuing vnder one, and the selfe same Prince and law: but certaine it is that the Citties of the Brytaines, were in those dayes neither artificially builded with houses, nor strongly walled with stone, but were onely thicke and combersome woods plashed within, and trenched about: and the like in effect doe other the Romane and Greeke Authours directly affirme, as Strabo, Pomponius Mela, and Dion a Senator of Rome, which flourished in the seuerall raignes of the Romaine Emperours, Tiberius, Claudius, Domitian, & Seuerus, to wit, that before the ariuall of the Romans, the Brytons had no towns, but called that a town which had a thicke intangled wood, defended as I saide with a ditch and banke, the like whereof the Irishmen our next neigbors doe at this day call Fastnes. But after that these hither partes of Brytaine were reduced into the forme of a Prouince, by the Romanes, who sowed the seedes of ciuilitie ouer all Europe: this Citie whatsoeuer it was before, began to be renowned, and of fame. For Tacitus, who first of all Authours nameth it Londinium, saith that in the 62. yeare after Christ, it was, albeit no Colonie of the Romanes, yet most famous for the great multitude of Marchants, prouision, and intercourse. At which time in that notable reuolt of the Brytons from Nero, in which 70000 Romanes and their confederates were slaine, this Citie with Verulam neare Saint Albons, and Maldon in Essex, then all famous: were ransacked and spoyled. For Suetonius Paulinus, then Lieutenant for the Romanes in this Isle, abandoned it, as not then fortefied, and left it to the spoyle.

The Britons had no houses but cottages.; The Britons went naked, their bodies painted.

Shortly after, Iulius Agricola the Romane Lieutenant, in the time of Domitian, was the first that by adhorting the Brytaines publikely, and helping them priuately, won them to build houses for themselues, Temples for the Gods, and Courts for Iustice, to bring up the noble mens children in good letters and humanitie, and to apparell themselues Romane like, where as before (for the most part) they went naked, painting their bodies,&c. as al the Romane writers haue obserued.

Richborow in Kent.; Verulamium.; Cilcester, Wroxcester. Kenchester.; Leyland.; Of the wall about London.

True it is I confesse, that afterward many Cities and Towns in Brytaine vnder the gouernment of the Romanes, were walled with stone, and baked brickes, or tyles, as Rich borrow, Ryptacester, in the Isle of Thanet, till the chanell altered his course, besides Sandwitch in Kent, Verulamium besides S. Albones, in Hartfordshire, Cilcester in Hampshire, Wroxcester in Shropshire, Kencester in Herefordshire, three myles from Hereford towne, Ribcester, 7. miles aboue Preston, on the water of Rible, Aldeburge a mile from Borrowbridge, or Wathelingstreet, on Vre Ruier, and others: and no doubt but this Citie of London was also walled with stone, in the time of the Romane gouernment here, but yet verie lately, for it seemeth not to haue beene walled in the yeare of our Lord 296. because in that yeare when Alectus the Tyrant was slaine in the field, the Franks easily entered London, and had sacked the same, had not God of his great fauour at the very instant brought along the riuer of Thames, certaine bandes of Romaine Souldiers, who slewe those Frankes in euerie streete of the Cittie.