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5. A SCOT'S VIEW

However, a Scot, William Dunbar, was amazed at the splendour of London. He flattered his hosts with the line - "London, thou art the flower of cities all!"

But he came from a savage barren land where the biggest city Edinburgh, only had 8000 souls.

Even these felt insecure. After the Battle of Flodden in 1513 when the Scots were thrashed by the English, they built a wall around Edinburgh. And they kept behind the wall for the next 250 years - setting the style for high rise tenements.

6. HENRY VIII AND ALL THAT

Henry VIII wanted Anne Boleyn. She would not say "yes" unless he married her. The Pope would not allow him to divorce his wife.

So Henry with England in tow broke away from the Church of Rome. This led to the Dissolution of the Monastries which had tremendous repercussions on the history of England, London - and our lives today

7. DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTRIES

There were 23 large religious houses - monastries and convents - in London. A sizeable part of London's population were monks, friars and nuns.

By 1530 the monastries were closed and their monks were let loose from their enclosed life.

One historian has suggested that the freeing of young monks from the monastries led to the increase in London's population and to the overseas exploits in Elizabethan times.

8. NEW LANDLORDS

Another writer has claimed that the Dissolution of the Monastries was the most important factor in London's whole history.

When the religious houses were closed there were lots of greedy hands grasping after the spoils.

The favourites of the King became the new landlords of much of London.

The monastries were pulled down and tenements were crowded on to the available space.

9. AND TODAY

The writer says that the reason why today a handful of people and institutions are still able to make money from London land dates back to these times.

Most of the land taken over from the monastries has been held continuously for 400 years by the same families or institutions - who still make a profit from their holdings.

10. AND IN ISLINGTON

The King's hatchet man in this affair was Thomas Cromwell.

When he made his pile he became Islington's Lord of the Manor.

He came to live in the borough, a rural place with duck ponds that attracted sportsmen, and set up home in Canonbury House.

11. A MAN OF CONSCIENCE

One brave man who refused to join in the scramble for spoils was Sir Thomas More. As a result he was beheaded.

Earlier in the century he had visualised a brave new world and had written about it. His book was called "Utopia"; it means "nowhere". So possibly Sir Thomas had an inkling of what happened to bright ideas and dreams.

 

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