The Old Palace of Whitehall by Hendrick Danckerts
Between 1500 and 1800, London became the largest city in Europe, its financial, commercial, cultural, and social capital, and the headquarters of a vast global empire. To do all that from its origins as a medieval village, Londoners had to overcome innumerable plagues, fires, crime, and collapsing infrastructure. To survive the city’s many dangers, toils, and snares, its inhabitants needed to evolve into a new type of urbanite, one that was flexible, resilient, entrepreneurial, optimistic, determined, and wryly humorous: the Londoner.
Early modern Londoners had to find community in the big city. By creating connections with each other in elected participatory local government, in taverns, pubs, coffee houses and clubs; in the first newspapers and a relatively free press; in the first public concerts and the first viable commercial theater since the ancient world; in communities of risk like joint stock and insurance companies; or in networks of female servants, they forged many of the hallmarks of modern life. Indeed, Londoners invented modernity for the Anglophone world.
Join historian Robert Bucholz as he charts the city’s rapid growth, and examines the full range of London life, from the splendid galleries of Whitehall to the damp and sooty alleyways of the East End.