The kings held at London's gate the greatest of those fortresses which William I. had built all over England, but the Tower never dominated the City as the Louvre dominated Paris.
The kings often suspended the independent Constitution which they had given, putting their own representative in place of the Mayor, but that very act is proof of the reality of the political power of London.
The crux of the matter is that in the political struggles of six centuries - from the day when London gave her support to the barons, when John signed Magna Carta, and the Mayor of London was chosen as one of the 25 barons to execute it, to the day when the Lord Mayor and Common Council sent their separate invitation to William of Orange to take the throne of England - no party could expect victory, no ruler was secure, without the support of London.
And one can say of London with little exaggeration that during those years the king whom she chose today ruled England tomorrow.
It was James I. who in a fit of pique is said to have proposed that London should be moved elsewhere. It was the Lord Mayor of London who replied that the King had forgotten the Thames. He had forgotten much else. He had forgotten the events of 600 years.
Yet we can see now a certain meaning and point in that strange proposal coming just at that moment in our history. Those geographical reasons which had made London the capital of England were losing some of their force.
The North Sea and the Baltic were no longer the only seas of Northern Europe. The Atlantic was no longer a waste of waters with no farther shore. English adventurers and English merchants were looking to the West, other ports were rising and the strategic reasons also were soon to pass.
Within 50 years the last battle in the last civil war in England had been fought. Before the end of the century the last dynastic revolution had been made.Next page: One of the World's Greatest Cities