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Index to Stow's original Survey of London written in 1598


As the Roman writers,[2] to glorify the city of Rome, derive the original thereof from gods and demi-gods, by the Trojan progeny, so Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Welsh historian, deduceth the foundation of this famous city of London, for the greater glory thereof, and emulation of Rome, from the very same original. For he reporteth that Brute, lineally descended from the demi-god Æneas, the son of Venus, daughter of Jupiter, about the year of the world 2855, and 1108 before the nativity of Christ, built this city near unto the river now called Thames, and named it Troynovant, or Trenovant. But herein, as Livy, the most famous historiographer of the Romans, writeth, antiquity is pardonable, and hath an especial privilege, by interlacing divine matters with human, to make the first foundation of cities more honourable, more sacred, and, as it were, of greater majesty.

King Lud (as the aforesaid Geoffrey of Monmouth noteth) afterwards not only repaired this city, but also increased the same with fair buildings, towers, and walls, and after his own name called it Caire-Lud,[3] as Lud’s town; and the strong gate which he built in the west part of the city he likewise, for his own honour, named Ludgate.

This Lud had issue two sons, Androgeus and Theomantius, who being not of age to govern at the death of their father, their uncle Cassibelan took upon him the crown; about the eighth[4] year of whose reign, Julius Cæsar arrived 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 own Commentaries, which are of far better credit than the relations of Geoffrey Monmouth.

The chief government of the Britons, and ordering of the wars, was then by common advice committed to Cassibelan, whose seigniory was separated from the cities towards the sea-coast by the river called Thames, about fourscore miles from the sea. This Cassibelan, in times past, had made continual war upon the cities adjoining; but the Britons being moved with the Roman invasion, had resolved in that necessity to make him their sovereign, and general of the wars (which continued hot between the Romans and them); but in the meanwhile the Troynovants, which was then the strongest city well near of all those countries (and out of which city a young gentleman, called Mandubrace, upon confidence of Cæsar’s help, came unto him into the mainland of Gallia, now called France, and thereby escaped death, which he should have suffered at Cassibelan’s hand), sent their ambassadors to Cæsar, promising to yield unto him, and to do what he should command them instantly, desiring him to protect Mandubrace from the furious tyranny of Cassibelan, and to send him into their city with authority to take the government thereof upon him. Cæsar accepted the offer, and appointed them to give unto him forty hostages, and withal to find him grain for his army; and so sent he Mandubrace unto them.

When others saw that Cæsar had not only defended the Trinobants against Cassibelan, but had also saved them harmless from the pillage of his own soldiers, then did the Conimagues, Segontians, Ancalits, Bibrokes, and Cassians, likewise submit themselves unto him; and by them he learned that not far thence was Cassibelan’s town, fortified with woods and marsh ground, into the which he had gathered a great number both of men and cattle.

For the Britons call that a town (saith Cæsar), when they have fortified a cumbersome wood with a ditch and rampart, and thither they resort to abide the approach of their enemies; to this place therefore marched Cæsar with his legions; he found it excellently fortified, both of nature and by man’s advice; nevertheless, he resolved to assault it in two several places at once, whereupon the Britons, being not able to endure the force of the Romans, fled out at another part, and left the town unto him: a great number of cattle he found there, and[5] many of the Britons he slew, and others he took in the chase.

Whilst these things were doing in these quarters, Cassibelan sent messengers into Kent, which lieth upon the sea, in which there reigned then four particular kings, named Cingetorex, Carvill, Taximagull, and Segonax, whom he commanded to raise all their forces, and suddenly to set upon and assault the Romans in their trenches by the sea-side; the which, when the Romans perceived, they sallied out upon them, slew a great sort of them, and taking Cingetorex their noble captain prisoner, retired themselves to their camp in good safety.

When Cassibelan heard of this, and had formerly taken many other losses, and found his country sore wasted, and himself left almost alone by the defection of the other cities, he sent ambassadors by Comius of Arras to Cæsar, to intreat with him concerning his own submission; the which Cæsar did accept, and taking hostages, assessed the realm of Britain to a yearly tribute, to be paid to the people of Rome, giving strait charge to Cassibelan that he should not seek any revenge upon Mandubrace or the Trinobantes, and so withdrew his army to the sea again.

Thus far out of Cæsar’s Commentaries concerning this history, which happened in the year before Christ’s nativity 54. In all which process there is for this purpose to be noted, that Cæsar nameth the city of Trinobantes, which hath a resemblance with Troynova, or Trinobantum, having no greater difference in the orthography than changing b into v, and yet maketh an error whereof I will not argue; only this I will note, that divers learned men do not think “civitas Trinobantum” to be well and truly translated, “the city of the Trinobantes;” but it should rather be the state, commonalty, or seigniory of the Trinobantes; for that Cæsar in his Commentaries useth the word civitas, only for a people living under one and the selfsame prince and law; but certain it is that the cities of the Britons were in those days neither artificially built with houses, nor strongly walled with stone, but were only thick and cumbersome woods, plashed within and trenched about. And the like in effect do other the Roman and Greek authors directly affirm, as Strabo, Pomponius Mela, and Dion a senator of Rome, which flourished in the several reigns of the Roman emperors, Tiberius, Claudius, Domitian, and Severus; to wit, that before the arrival of the Romans the Britons had no towns, but called that a town which had a thick entangled wood, defended, as I said, with a ditch and bank,[6] the like whereof, the Irishmen, our next neighbours, do at this day call Fastness.[4] But after that these hither parts of Britain were reduced into the form of a province by the Romans, who sowed the seeds of civility over all Europe; this city, whatsoever it was before, began to be renowned, and of fame. For Tacitus, who first of all authors nameth it Londinum, saith, that in the 62nd year after Christ, it was, albeit no colony of the Romans, yet most famous for the great multitude of merchants, provision, and intercourse. At which time, in that notable revolt of the Britons from Nero, in which 70,000 Romans and their confederates were slain, this city, with Verulam, near St. Albans, and Maldon in Essex, then all famous, were ransacked and spoiled. For Suetonius Paulinus, then lieutenant for the Romans in this isle, abandoned it, as not then fortified, and left it to the spoil.

Shortly after, Julius Agricola, the Roman lieutenant, in the time of Domitian, was the first that by adhorting the Britons publicly, and helping them privately, won them to build houses for themselves, temples for the gods, and courts for justice, to bring up the noblemen’s children in good letters and humanity, and to apparel themselves Roman-like, whereas before (for the most part) they went naked, painting their bodies, etc., as all the Roman writers have observed.

True it is, I confess, that afterwards many cities and towns in Britain, under the government of the Romans, were walled with stone and baked bricks or tiles, as Richborrow or Ryptacester,[5] in the Isle of Thanet, until the channel altered his course, beside Sandwich in Kent; Verulamium,[6] beside St. Albans, in Hertfordshire; Cilcester[7] in Hampshire; Wroxcester[8] in Shropshire; Kencester[9] in Herefordshire, three miles from Hereford town; Ribcester,[10] seven miles above Preston, on the water of Rible;[7] Aldburgh,[11] a mile from Boroughbridge, or Watling Street, on Ure river, and others; and no doubt but this city of London was also walled with stone, in the time of the Roman government here, but yet very lately, for it seemeth not to have been walled in the year of our Lord 296, because in that year, when Alectus the tyrant was slain in the field, the Franks easily entered London and had sacked the same, had not God, of his great favour, at the very instant, brought along the river of Thames, certain bands of Roman soldiers, who slew those Franks in every street of the city.