In 1100, the population of London was little over 15,000 people. It had expanded to almost 80,000 people by 1300. The streets and alleys of medieval London were a tangle of winding streets and lanes. The majority of the dwellings were half-timbered, or wattle and daub, and lime-washed. There were also many stone buildings, especially around the royal palaces at Westminster and Kensington.
London was not completely enclosed by walls when it first emerged on the scene in the 11th century, but they did enclose an area of about a square mile. The city grew rapidly and by 1250 its limits had been extended to cover nearly 7 square miles. In addition to its citizens, London also attracted immigrants from all over Europe. They came to work in the growing economy or to seek better lives and opportunities elsewhere.
The population of London increased steadily until the start of the 14th century, when it began to decline. This was due to the outbreak of the First War of Scottish Independence in 1215, which caused much fighting between the Scots and the English down south. The war ended in 1224 with England losing, forcing King Henry III to agree to many demands made by the Scottish king, who had taken him prisoner. Some of these demands included paying him an annual tribute of £20,000 and giving him control of East Anglia.
The threat of fire remained continuous, and rules were enacted to ensure that all households have access to fire-fighting equipment. There were no street signs at this time, so people knew their location by reference to the church they could see in the distance.
People lived on the first floor, usually with a balcony. The upper floors were used for storage - hats and coats were hung up there! Lower floors were often given over to workshops or stores. The front door tended to be on the ground floor, but sometimes there was also an entrance from the side or rear. Access to these entrances was through small doors, called "hells", which could only be opened from the inside.
Public spaces were limited, so residents had the opportunity to meet other people living in the vicinity. They did this at local pubs, where they could drink alcohol without being served by a waiter or waitress - the landlord took care of that. Or they went to market days, when shops would open their doors for an hour or two so people could buy what they needed.
Medieval London was not a safe place - there were constant battles between men trying to protect their homes and businesses and those looking for loot.
It also surged in population, with London's population rising from over 100,000 in 1550 to almost 200,000 in 1600. The increased population initially took shelter on the grounds of religious organizations seized by Henry VIII during the Reformation (after 1536). But when these shelters became crowded, people began to live in their own homes again.
The city walls were originally built around AD 973 but they weren't complete until about 1180. The suburbs beyond the wall were farmland until the late 18th century when housing developments started happening. Today, only a small part of the land within the old walls is used for farming.
Have a look at our Great Revolution videos to learn more about this event in history.
Medieval London had narrow and twisting alleyways, and the majority of the houses were built of flammable materials like wood and straw, making fire a continuous concern. London's sanitation was deplorable. During the Black Death in the mid-14th century, at least half of London's population died. The city was rebuilt in stone, providing better protection for people living there.
People began to live longer in the 15th century, which means that the proportion of the population that was under 15 years old dropped dramatically. This opens up room for young people to get employment and make some money. 1630 is also when we first start to see evidence of street lighting, so people could travel safely at night time.
In conclusion, London in the medieval period was not a safe place to live or travel in. However, it is possible to build safe homes with fire exits and poison gas masks, which have been done in recent history. Although the Black Death killed at least half of London's population, the city recovered quickly after the plague stopped.
England's population, which was about 5.25 million in 1720, will reach around nine million by the end of the century. During this time, London's population increased from roughly 700,000 to over one million, making it greater than Paris. England is a large country, but most people live on only 7% of its land.
In terms of size, England is still a small country today. It is less than five percent the size of Europe. But it was a much bigger place in the past. At its peak in 1603, England had more than eight million people, making it the largest country in the world. By 1770, its population had fallen to about 5 million, or less than half its maximum level.
The British Isles have always been small countries. Today the total area of England, Scotland, and Wales is 485,000 square miles (or 37 million hectares). This is about 8% of the United States' area and just under 5% of Canada's.
But the British Isles were once joined together into a single country called "Britain". In 1801, they were split up into England, Scotland, and Wales. However, England is not only the largest country, it is also the most populous with 55 million people, followed by Scotland with 5 million and Wales with 1 million.