Eyewitnessing 13th-century London

My good friend Ian Stone has been researching medieval London for as long as I can remember him. His prize-winning article on Arnold Fitz Thedmar (1201-1275), the first London alderman whose life and ideas can be traced in some detail, paints an intriguing picture of 13th-century London, a snapshot of a city caught between its split loyalties and its vocation to become a plaque tournante of commercial and financial Europe. Fitz Thedmar’s only work, “The Book of Old Laws” (De Antiquis Legibus Liber) represents Britain’s first town chronicle, while the author’s style and substance commends it as a reliable and enjoyable witness to the period. Though without a precedent in British historiography, the Liber is far from inchoate, joining the tradition of Italian town chronicling such as that of the Genoese Caffaro or the Piacenza notary Giovanni Codagnello.

The article was published in the London Journal and is freely available through this link.

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