Books Features

New Medieval Books: London: A Fourteenth-Century City and its People

London: A Fourteenth-Century City and its People

By Kathryn Warner

Pen & Sword History
ISBN: 978 1 52677 637 2

A look at the daily life of medieval Londoners using the abundant records from the city. Over 40 different topics are covered, ranging from sanitation to crimes and roads to religion.


In 1300, London has a population estimated at around 80,000 people, perhaps 100,000, a number which fell precipitously in the terrible year of 1348/9, when the first pandemic of the Black Death reached the city. In the twenty-first century, its population is approximately 100 times larger. Although tiny by modern standards, London was vastly larger than any other fourteenth-century English town: York and Bristol came next on the list with around 10,000 and 12,000 inhabitants each. London’s special place as the largest and richest city in the kingdom was widely recognized. Edward III called it the ‘mirror and exemplar of the whole realm’ in 1339, and in 1338, the mayor and bailiffs of Oxford wrote to the mayor and sheriffs of London, ‘offering them the honour and reverence due from a daughter to a mother’. It is interesting to note that both Oxford and London were deemed female; the officials did not write ‘from a son to a father’.


Who is this book for:

This book serves as a very good introduction to records of late medieval London, in particular those that come from the city authorities. The sections for each topic are only a few pages each, so you do not get anything too in-depth. But if you want to start learning about medieval London, this is a good place to start.

Many of the records noted in this book are translated and available online. Check out British History Online to access these sources, including:


London’s Plea and Memoranda Rolls

London’s Letter Books

Wills from the Court of Husting

The author:

Kathryn Warner is a historian based in England who focuses on the fourteenth century. She began her work online with her blog on Edward II and has penned over a dozen books.

On this episode of History Hack, Kathryn talks about her new book on London.

You can follow Kathryn on Twitter @RoyneAlianore

You can learn more about this book on the publisher’s website

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