Other towns still had some claim to rank with London - Winchester, with its long association with the house of Alfred, Oxford, in the centre of England., a natural meeting place for north and south; but as that great soldier Harold saw, for an English king who must fight for his kingdom, the heart of his defence must be London.
This William Duke of Normandy, recognized. After the Battle of Hastings he first isolated London; then he received the submission of her citizens; then he was crowned and anointed in Westminster Abbey.
From that moment he was King of England. But it was the charter of Henry I. which clearly marked the unique place of London in the kingdom with special privileges and political power.
It gave London the right to choose her own sheriffs-the sheriffs who were, in each shire, the king's stewards and justices. It gave London's citizens the right to be tried only in their own courts of law. It made London what she was through the Middle Ages, almost an independent city.
That position was confirmed and strengthened nearly a century later when the barons of the City received from John the right each year to elect their Mayor.
It was said then that "come what may Londoners would have no other king but their Mayor," and in three privileges which the Lord Mayor still enjoys remains the clear memory of the ancient political power of the City's elected head.
They are the ceremony at Temple Bar when, before entering the City, the King receives the City's Sword from the Lord Mayor and returns it; the Lord Mayor's rank as second only to the King within the City; the Lord Mayor's right to be summoned to the Privy Council on the accession of a new Sovereign.Next page: A Haven for Political Struggle