Story Of London

London’s Lord Mayor: 1189-1272

London’s Lord Mayor: 1189-1272
Posted on Aug 18, 2002 – 12:51 PM by Bill McCann

The Lord Mayor of London is an ancient elective office which dates from the reign of Richard the Lionheart. In the intervening eight centuries more than seven hundred men and one woman have held this important post. The City of London has always jealously guarded its independence from the Crown and to this day, within the City, the Lord Mayor is second in Precedence only to the reigning Monarch. This major series of nine articles presents a complete list of the Lord Mayors, arranged chronologically according to the reigns in which they served. This article reviews the political situation of London in the thirteenth century, presents the list of Lord Mayors in the reigns of Richard I, John and Henry III and assesses the characters of each reign.

During the thirteenth century London’s population doubled so that by 1300 there were between 60,000 and 100,00 inhabitants in the City.John’s recognition of the Commune of London, both as Regent and King, was an important landmark in the evolution of the City’s unique status in the Kingdom. However, the 13th century was a turbulent period and the City was far from secure in its independence. The attempts of John and his immediate successors to evade the terms ofMagna Cartabrought the country to virtual civil war and London into direct conflict with Henry III. Its one great strength, however, was that the king needed its resources, particularly, its financial resources. This was lost on the Mayor and Aldermen who played their cards close to their chests and often for very high stakes.However, during this century the balance of advantage lay with the Crown. Throughout the long reign of Henry III there were frequent disputes about the City’s liability to taxes to which they had not previously consented. Between 1239 and 1257 the liberties of the City were suspended no fewer than ten times. The period of suspension was usually relatively short however and the liberties were restored on the payment of a large fine to the Exchequer. A more serious situation arose in 1263.The Baronial revolt, led by Simon de Montfort, was reaching its climax when internal divisions arose within the City government. The leading Aldermen were effectively overthrown by the so-calledpopulares. This was led by a cluster of rich merchants of the newly organised crafts who were demanding recognition of their guilds and an enlargement of the Court of Aldermen. They were committed to the unequivocal support of de Montfort and his Baronial confederates and raised a contingent of citizens to fight on his side at the battle of Lewes in 1264. However, with the defeat and death of de Montfort at Evesham in 1265, they themselves were quickly ousted. This did not save the City however. Henry II never forgave it. He imposed a huge fine of 20,000 Marks and suspended the Liberties and Mayoralty for the remaining years of his reign.
Richard I began his reign 6 July 1189
Regnal YearMayorTerm
1st Richard IHenry Fitz Aylwin1189-1199

By the standards of his day, Richard I, was the ideal King. His greatest concerns were the defence of his ancestral lands (in France) and the Crusade against the Infidel. However, both of these meant that he actually spent only a few months of his reign in England. Unlike his father, Henry II, he had no interest in the financial and judicial duties of kingship and was lucky to find an outstanding minister to relieve him of these burdens. This was Hubert Walter who was both Justiciar and Archbishop of Canterbury. In his capable hands the domestic business of the kingdom was capably (and profitably) taken care of. Richard was seen as a generous lord and a shrewd politician but above all else he was recognised as a great soldier. His prowess in battle, normally attended by a reckless indifference to his own safety, became the stuff of legend and has tended to overshadow the fact that he was also a prudent general and a careful king.

King John began his reign 6 April 1199
Regnal YearMayorTerm
1st JohnHenry Fitz Aylwin1199-1212
14th JohnRoger Fitz Alan1212-14
16th JohnSerio le Mercer
William Hardel

A true assessment of King John is probably now impossible. Like Mary Tudor many centuries later, he has suffered the indignity of his posthumous reputation been chiefly determined by the writings and agenda of his most bitter enemies. He was however, a most able administrator and few of England’s kings have taken as close an interest in the daily administration of government and justice. He was, in fact, a hard-working king who, unlike his father and elder brother, stayed at the helm and saw through some of the more important administrative developments in the English constitution. After John, the monarchs of England largely stayed in England and this was seen as been largely to their credit. For the first ‘stay at home’ king, in his own time, however, the lack of chivalrous and military prestige was a useful stick with which he could be beaten.

Henry III began his reign 19 October 1216
Regnal YearMayorTerm
1st Henry IIIJames Alderman1216-17
2nd Henry IIISalomon de Basing1217-18
3rd Henry IIISerio le Mercer1218-21
7th Henry IIIRichard Renger1222-26
12th Henry IIIRoger le Duc1227-30
16th Henry IIIAndrew Bukerel1231-37
23rd Henry IIIRichard Renger1238 -39
24th Henry IIIWilliam Joynier1239-40
25th Henry IIIGerrard Bat
Reginald de Bungheye
26th Henry IIIRalph Ashway1241-43
29th Henry IIIMichael Tovy1244-45
30th Henry IIIMichael Tovy1245-46
31st Henry IIIJohn Gisors1246
31st Henry IIIPeter Fitz Alan1246-47
32nd Henry IIIMichael Tovy1247-48
33rd Henry IIIMichael Tovy1248-49
34th Henry IIIRoger Fitz Roger1249-50
35th Henry IIIJohn le Norman1250-51
36th Henry IIIAdam de Basing1251-52
37th Henry IIIJohn Tulesan1252-53
38th Henry IIINicholas Bat1253-54
39th Henry IIIRalph Hardel1254 – 57
42nd Henry IIIWilliam Fitz Richard1257-58
43rd Henry IIIJohn de Gisors1258-59
44th Henry IIIWilliam Fitz Richard1259-61
46th Henry IIIThomas Fitz Thomas1261-64
50th Henry IIIHugh Fitz Otho
John Walerand(Warden)
John de la Linde(Warden)
51st Henry IIIWilliam Fitz Richard (Warden)1266-67
52nd Henry IIIAlan la Zuche (Warden)1267-68
53rd Henry IIIThomas de Ippegrave (Warden)
Stephen de Eddeworth (Warden)
54th Henry IIIHugh Fitz Otho (Warden)1269-70
55th Henry IIIJohn Adrien1270-71
56th Henry IIIWalter Hervey1271
57th Henry IIIWalter Hervey1271

Inheriting the throne at the age of nine, Henry III enjoyed one of the longest reigns in English history, but perhaps “enjoyed” is not perhaps the right word. The kingdom which he inherited was riven with a civil war which was not finally defeated until the last years of the reign. His character was more aestethic than military and this was a decided disadvantage in his age. He was fortunate to be able to rely upon his younger brother, Richard the earl of Cornwall, during the middle period of his reign and, his elder son, the Prince Edward, at the end of it. Henry was one of the first great patrons of the arts and he embarked on a huge building programme which gave England many of its architectural glories. Amongst these was the shrine to his favourite saint, Edward the Confessor, in Westminster Abbey. The chief merit of this reign was the opening up of England to the cosmopolitan and artistic influences which had been flooding the continent of Europe. He gloried in the fact that England could emulate the artistic and learned trends then sweeping through the civilised world and he opened up the country to these influences. He also admired international institutions such as the papacy and it was in his reign that the friars first began to come to England. History has largely ignored him, despite his long reign, but perhaps history has been too occupied with martial glory to take notice the subtle touches that are necessary in the development of a more civilised country.

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