London’s market place has always attracted foreigners to the city

London's market place has always attracted foreigners to the city

The ethnic composition of London has been heavily influenced by the fact of its being a market town for so much of its history.

London has always been a market place and a market town.

The Romans, when they established Londinium within the current square mile sitting just north of the Thames, known as the city of London, developed it as a hub for trade between the British colony, Rome and other key colonies in its empire.

The success of the Roman’s project has arguably been a function of the brilliant location of the Thames in relation to its access to the Iberian Sea, and then on to the Mediterranean, through which much business was conducted. It also has reasonable access to the North Sea and German ports. The upshot has been that London has always been a place where people who have things to sell, meet people who want to buy and trade.

London’s history as a market town began with its inception, by the Roman Empire, two thousand years ago. Under the Roman’s London thrived as a market town, being a point where goods from Britain could be transported throughout the Roman Empire, and goods from the Empire, flooded into London as a result.

It is down to London being a commercial success that the Romans, and the Roman multi-ethnic army, were able to reside in the city, and make it what it is.

With time however Roman London fell into decline, and eventually the city that once stood there was deserted. It was left to the Saxons to start London back up. They created a settlement; some years after the Roman city had fallen into ruin, outside the city walls of the original Roman city.

The Saxons themselves would have been subject to indiscriminate raids from Vikings, marauding Danes, connoisseurs in rape, pillage and extortion, who made regular shopping trips from the north east, landing anywhere between Newcastle and London, saving the best, London, to last, on their supermarket sweep. Undoubtedly given the scale of the rape that took place by the Danes, a good proportion of the London population would have developed some kind of Danish characteristics, in addition to the Saxon ones they already had.

A small turning point in London and Britain’s ethnic make-up came when the Normans successfully invaded Britain and took London, in 1066, under their king William. William established a new order, with a Norman ruling class, and Saxon subordinates, which in time. And whilst French became the predominate language amongst the authorities, Saxon languages were permitted, and as decades passed it was the Saxon culture, which prevailed.

Danish rampage aside, the presence of foreign traders in the city has always been a feature of London’s population. As early as the tenth century German traders were said to have played an important role in the trade of the city. Men of Italy, once again played a key role in finance, the Lombards, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

The dawning of the British Empire in the seventeenth century saw London used as a warehouse, for all the goods expropriated from British colonies, from India, to Africa, China, the United States and with time Australia. Men were employed from all these countries to work on the ships, and all of them, found a home, whether for a week or two, or for the rest of their lives, in and around the ports and docks of London.

In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries rivers of finance, rather than raw materials, flow into the cities, the traders now sail offices and computers rather than ships and boats. Bankers from the United States and Switzerland, in particular, occupy centre stage in the city of London, and in the affairs of London.

More recently, it was announced that the Chinese, the rising superpower in the world, would be, investing one billion pounds to create a Chinese town on the Royal Victoria Docks, which would operate to the business hours of China, and which would act as a portal into Europe for Chinese businesses. Singaporean and Malaysian businessmen have been responsible for many new developments including the recent plans for converting Battersea Power Station into flats. Qataris, working with an Italian designer, have been responsible for erecting London’s tallest every building, the Shard in London Bridge.


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