his central theme; his analysis of the School of Forgery at Glastonbury whets the appetite for a full-scale detective story on the subject. Through- out this study, too, he is critically aware of the literary quality and value of the texts that form the basis of his argument, and this admirable balance between the need to instruct and delight retains the reader's attention to the end. R. GEORGE THOMAS. University College, Cardiff. MEDIEVAL LoNDON, FROM COMMUNE TO CAPITAL. By Gwyn A. Williams. University of London, The Athlone Press, 1963. Pp. xiv and 377. 50s. In a country replete with archives and unwritten histories, London is the best-documented of towns, and perhaps the most shamelessly neglected. Dr. Williams's book is therefore welcome both as a contribution to medieval urban history and as an example of what can be done with the city's astonishing records. Its theme is first the weathering of the revolutionary Commune of 1193 by half-a-century of use, and then its transformation into the familiar system of later times, in which mayor, aldermen, and councillors rule as before, but the gilds control the franchise: a system developed just as the national capital emerged in the first stages of the Hundred Years War. The most potent external force at work was the king himself; whether compromising, like John, meddling and bullying, like Henry III, or bullying and organizing, like Edward I. Within the city there was one monotonous constant, the remarkable growth of population that eventually swamped the patriciate, and transferred power from the representatives of the old city dynasties to the corporate personalities of the craft and trade gilds. The Commune which settled so quickly into respectability was, in Dr. Williams's words, 'based on the Husting of [a] little landed oligarchy of hereditary citizens'. Any increase of population was bound to affect it in time, but in fact it proved very resilient, and its aldermanate remained a permanent feature of the city's government, changing its members but not its form. What did disappear in the turmoil of the thirteenth century was the landowner, and with him the city dynast; after the Commune the prominent London families are as short-lived as those in provincial towns. In the provinces the talented migrated to London, or died; in London they died, or migrated into gentility. Landownership appears to be the only business on which the English can concentrate for more than three generations at a time. The civil war of the 1260s disorganized the patriciate, but it took the violent pressures of Edward I's reign and the disturbances of Edward II's to settle the constituents of the new order. What undid the dynasts was as much Henry Ill's ill-judged interference as the popular risings; the aldermen found themselves beset alternately by a capricious and resentful
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