Online course
Birth of a Global City: London 1066-1666

Wednesday 23 September 2020 - Wednesday 9 December 2020

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Medieval London: the phrase conjures images of a walled city of winding streets mired in mud, its inhabitants living perilously and piously amid a city of a hundred church spires.

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With the V&A's collections and curators for inspiration, on this twelve-week course we will uncover the true story, a dynamic and fascinating history ranging from the Norman Conquest to the Great Fire. A city of learning and richly skilled crafts, during this period London went from being the prosperous capital of an emerging kingdom on the periphery of Christendom to being one of the greatest cities of Europe, the centre of a growing mercantile empire which looked outward to the Atlantic and beyond. Already an ancient city at the dawn of the first millennium, London was firmly locked into a nexus of trade centering on the North Sea, with links to varied lands and peoples of Scandinavia and north-west Europe...

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Mike Berlin

Course director Mike Berlin

Mike Berlin is a Lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is a specialist in the social history of early modern London and has published extensively on the history of London’s guilds. Before joining Birkbeck, he was a research officer at the Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research.

Course Overview

A city of learning and richly skilled crafts, between 1066 to 1666 London went from being the prosperous capital of an emerging kingdom on the periphery of Christendom to being one of the great cities of Europe.

A rich prize to be won by whoever controlled the lowlands of Britain, London was the literal key to the kingdom, marked by traditions of autonomous self-government and imbued with Christian piety, that Kings sought to overawe but could never fully subdue.

Only with the coming of the Reformation and the Renaissance did London burst its boundaries as monastic houses were torn down for secular uses, Southwark became the site of the new commercial theatre and court life gave birth to the nascent West End. The twin catastrophes of the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666 only temporarily impeded London’s growth as the city was rebuilt with one the most graceful skylines in Europe.

“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”– Samuel Johnson

To download the full course programme, click on the link below.


Members’ priority booking opens at 9:30am on Monday 3rd August

Tickets will be available on general sale at 9:30am on Monday 17th August

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Online course: Birth of a Global City: London 1066-1666

23 September 2020 - 9 December 2020


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Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 9.30 - 17.30, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)