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City Communities
The documents here relate to just some of the experiences of people living in the City of London from the eleventh century to the end of the eighteenth century. Some are connected to great historical events such as the Norman Conquest. Others tell the story of everyday lives

Charter of William I, 1067.
Charter of William I, 1067
The charter is in Anglo-Saxon, the language spoken by William's English subjects. In it, the king grants all the citizens of London , full legal rights as free men. He also promises: 'I will not allow any person to behave wrongly towards you.' William needed the support of the City of London if he was to remain king.

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Charter of king John, 1215.
Charter of king John, 1215
King John was born on Christmas Eve 1167. He finally became king in 1199. By 1215 he was faced with a major rebellion. Hoping to win the Londoners to his side, he granted them the right to choose their own mayor every year.

A few weeks later his enemies forced him to grant Magna Carta, the 'Great Charter'. One section of this confirms the rights and customs of London.

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Magna Carta, 1297..
Magna Carta, 1297
Magna Carta was first granted in 1215. It was rewritten a number of times. In 1297 Edward I reconfirmed the Magna Carta, making it the law of the land. It was entered on the Parliament Rolls for the first time.

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A Religious Leader Gives Guidance, circa 1280, (Custumal 9: Decretales Gregorii Papae. folio 77).
A religious leader gives guidance, circa 1280
In 1235 Pope Gregory IX sent out a book of letters or 'decretals'. The letters answered questions the Pope had been asked. They would set out the way in which members of the church should behave. The book was decorated and written by hand.

This picture comes from a copy of the book made around1280. It is of a religious leader giving instruction. He might be an abbot at a monastery.

No-one knows how the book came to the City of London, but religion would have been central to the lives of the City's medieval community.
Portrait Letter of Edward IV (1461-1483), circa 1495
Portrait Letter of Edward IV (1461-1483), circa 1495

This page is taken from the Cartae Antiquae. This is a beautifully written and decorated book. The decoration is usually called 'illumination'. The book contains transcripts of charters and statutes from 1327 to 1495. The book was made in the late fifteenth century. Highly decorated books were expensive objects and were used to display the City's wealth and importance.

The portrait is of Edward IV. He came to the throne in 1461, after defeating Henry VI at Towton during the Wars of the Roses. At the bottom in the centre are the arms of the City of London.

Cloth Inventory, circa 1460
Small torn fragment giving an inventory of cloths, circa 1450
Sometimes documents are damaged and can only give us a part of a story. However, this document tells us the kinds of cloth people were making and using. This in turn can tell us about trade, industry and fashion.
Shield of the Lord Mayor, Sir Henry Tulse in Stow and Strype's "A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster", 1720.
Arms of Guilds from 'The Temporal Government' from Strype's version of 'Stow's Survey of London', 1720
Stow's Survey of London was first published in 1586. In 1720 John Strype published a much enlarged edition. On these pages are the coats of arms of the mayors and sheriffs of the City of London.
Tenement Plans, 1683.
Maidenhead and Wrastler's Court, drawn by William Leybourn, April 1683

The plan shows the groundfloor of the tenements. It also shows gardens and yards. Where a street has been cobbled it is described as 'built over'.

The tenements were built up against London Wall. Marked around the edges are the properties belonging to the guilds of Carpenters, Saddlers and Drapers.

Register of Indentured Servants, 1718-1733.
Register of Indentured Servants. 1718 to March 1733
The register gives names and destination for servants going to the colonies. The young boys and girls listed are going to Maryland , Pennsylvania and Jamaica .
Invitation to dinner at Mercer's Hall, Cheapside, 1723.
Invitation to visit St Paul's School and to dine at Mercers' Hall, January 1723
The person who received this invitation would have arrived at St Paul's School and then paraded to St Paul's Cathedral for a service celebrating the conversion of St Paul. Afterwards dinner was to be served at Mercers' Hall. At the bottom of the document it says the person receiving the invitation had to pay five shillings (25p). This was a lot of money at the time and suggests that those invited were rich men of the City.
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