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Here is seventeenth-century London as you've never seen it. The Restoration of Charles II marked a period of growth in colonization and trade, the rise of political parties, and an increase in the power of Parliament. Restoration London provides a fascinating look at everyday life in the city during that time. Using diaries, almanacs, newspapers, advice books, government papers, personal documents, and more, Liza Picard brilliantly portrays the human side of both ordinary daily living and catastrophic events. We ...
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Here is seventeenth-century London as you've never seen it. The Restoration of Charles II marked a period of growth in colonization and trade, the rise of political parties, and an increase in the power of Parliament. Restoration London provides a fascinating look at everyday life in the city during that time. Using diaries, almanacs, newspapers, advice books, government papers, personal documents, and more, Liza Picard brilliantly portrays the human side of both ordinary daily living and catastrophic events. We see a fire out of control, leaving a great and prosperous city buried in its own ruins. We witness an enormous rebuilding, with determination from the people and a Proclamation from Charles that London would be "a much more beautiful city than that consumed."
From the splendor of lovely English gardens to pollution-filled air and streets clogged with waste and rubbish; from graceful living, fashionable clothes, and elegant décor to medical risks, plagues, accidents, and early deaths, this unique book describes the simple pleasures and the overwhelming difficulties of the time. We discover the craft of cabinet making, the art of embroidery, and the revival of theater. We are shown the importance of astrology, magic, and superstition in medical care, the labor of housework and shopping, the pleasures of music and dancing, the hazards of sex, the limitations of education, the nature of the laws, the conflicting views of the churches, and the extremes of poverty and wealth.
With meticulous detail and vivid descriptions, Restoration London shows us the people who lived there and gives us a better understanding of who they were.
Facts and figures
England in 1660 was prosperous. Few people died of hunger, unlike the peasants on the continent. Waves of enclosures had swept away medieval hovels from English fields, and farming methods were slowly improving as Dutch technology spread. Wool was still the country's mainstay In medieval times, it had been exported 'unwrought'; it now went through a series of labour-intensive processes, which resulted in lighter weight, fashion-conscious fabrics ('the new draperies'). Textile finishing was largely concentrated in London. Newcastle sent coal down to London ('sea-coal') in fleets of collier ships, hundreds at a time. Lead was mined in Derbyshire, tin and copper in the West Country, iron in the Forest of Dean. They were all channelled to London.
The population of England was just over 5 million. In villages, solidly built houses clustered round the dual sources of refreshment, Church and Inn. A network of seven or eight hundred market towns provided for the business and social needs of their inhabitants, and of the country dwellers within a comfortable radius. The total population of the five major provincial cities, Norwich, Bristol, Newcastle, York and Exeter, was only 80,000.
Over 300,000 people, getting on for one in sixteen of the population, lived in London. In the known world, only Paris and Constantinople were bigger and they were flagging. London's steady increase had by 1700 outstripped Paris, and by 1750, Constantinople.
'London' comprised: (1) the square mile within the Roman walls, and small areas to the west at Blackfriars, and to the south, across London Bridge, atSouthwark. This was the City of London, administered in 26 wards by the Lord Mayor of London and the Common Council of Aldermen. Its population had declined by 20,000 between 1640 and 1660. (2) The 'suburbs'. The rich and fashionable were filling the space between the Roman city of Londinium and the Danish foundation at Westminster. The middle classes were moving west as well, and north towards Hackney. The poor, particularly the thousands dependent on the ship-building and carrying trades, migrated east along the river. The suburbs were booming.
The built-up area extended north to Clerkenwell, with ribbon development along the river and the approach roads. Before the Fire in 1666, the skyline was mainly flat, broken by the bulk of Westminster Abbey, the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall, and St Paul's Cathedral and the Tower in the City. The square medieval church towers did not punctuate the skyline gracefully, as Wren's spires were to do.
The street layout had not changed since the Romans left. The traveller from Kent, or Europe, approached London by 'Kentish Street', through Southwark and across London Bridge. If he was heading north, a straight road led through the city and out by Bishopsgate, towards Hackney.The main east-west axis was Cheapside. From it, Fleet Street and the Strand led towards Westminster. To the east, through Aldgate, lay the open fields. Thames Street, along the river, was constantly blocked with commercial traffic to and from the wharves and warehouses and the Customs House.
There was still only one bridge across the Thames. In 1663 the Lord Mayor petitioned Charles II for leave to set up two ferries 'on account of the straitness [narrowness] and trouble of passing London Bridge'. The Royal Surveyor of Works supported the petition, 'as being the only expedient to ease the Bridge . . . from the multitude of carts drays and drifts of cattle, since His Majesty would not admit of another bridge'. His Majesty promised to think about it; if he did, nothing came of it. In 1664 he was faced with a detailed plan for a bridge between Westminster and Lambeth, to be funded by a toll and a voluntary contribution from "neighbouring gentry"-- with the same result
London was the principalcity of England. The development of industrial conurbations in the Midlands was still centuries away. The London needle-makers' monopoly for instance, covered London and 10 miles round, outside that radius, the trade was shared with Worcester. The manufacture of cutlery was shared with Sheffield. But luxury trades were wholly concentrated in London, and far away the largest national source of income was the new trade of cloth finishing, almost wholly concentrated in London.
Finaciers were evolving more sophisticated banking systems, their base was London. Lawyers were well placed in the Inns of Court, including the Temple, which they had taken over when the Order of Knights Templars was dissolved in the fourteenth century; fast boats took them to their commercial clients in the City, or upriver to the law courts at Westminster. The spiritual life of London was supervised from Lambeth, Westminster and St Paul's. The monarchy was established at the Palace of Whitehall, built by Cardinal Wolsey close to the Abbey, and acquired by Henry VIII on Wolsey's downfall. Lastly, London was England's major port, with a safe harbour for sea-going vessels, facilities for building, repairing and supplying ships, and thousands of experienced seamen.
The combination of all these functions in one city goes far to explain London's disproportionate size, compared to other English cities, and to European capitals, where the monarch or the merchants or the shippers might reside in separate places.
It produced a polyglot, colourful crowd. Young people up from the country to serve an apprenticeship or enter domestic service gaped at English grandees in velvet-lined coaches, and fine ladies in sedan chairs escorted by liveried servants and African slave boys. Street sellers and mountebanks rubbed shoulders with sailors and beggars. Foreign languages and Latin vied with the country accents of young gentlemen up from the provinces.
In all this confusion, important announcements needed all the emphasis they could get. The Dutch Ambassador, Van Gogh, described the Proclamation announcing the declaration of war against his country, on 22 February 1664:
On Saturday last, the King's declaration was solemnly proclaimed.Two . . .