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Quora Answer : What is something, most people don't know about London?

May 2, 2016

So my friend told me this story. I don't know exactly how much of it is true ... it may be a wild myth ... (Wikipedia disagrees with it) but it does chime with some remarkable features of London.

The Roman city of Londinium basically ended with the Roman empire in Britain. The Saxons didn't live there because they considered it "haunted". However it was re-occupied by a bunch of Viking traders who sailed up the Thames and established a stockade / trading post there.

There was some fighting back and forth where London changed hands between Danes and native Saxons but it kept its character as an independent minded / semi-autonomous trading city, and when William the Conqueror arrived. he gave it a charter and significant independence, but built the Tower of London alongside as a garrison to remind it that he was ultimately in charge.

This is why the city of London has never been the seat of the monarch. Indeed there are rumours that the monarch can't enter (or can't enter without invitation). And why it has considerable autonomy (separate police, weird "democracy" where corporations can vote etc.) from the rest of the country. Modern "London" is really the twin poles of Westminster (originally monarchic and then parliamentary) political power, and the City commercial power. Politics and commerce are not simply separated geographically for convenience or accident but because they are two rival powers with individual histories. (I suppose another way of looking at it is that the City of London is a kind of organelle inside a Eukaryotic England.)

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