Survey of London: An Apology for the City of London

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NOw since that I haue giuen you an outward view of this City, it shall not be impertinent to let you take an insight also of the same, such as a Londoner borne, discoursed aboue twenty yeares agone, for answere (as it see
meth) to some obiections, that then were made against the growing greatnes thereof. The Author gaue it me, & therefore howsoeuer I conceale his name (which it selfe pretendeth not) I thinke it may without his offence im
part it to others, that they may take pleasure in the rea
ding, as I doubt not but he did in the writing. Long may they (that list) enuie, and long may we and our posterity enioy the good estate of this Citie.

A Discourse of the names and first cau
ses of the institution of Cities, and peopled townes. And of the commodities that doe growe by the same: and namely of the Citie of London. Written by way of an Apologie (or defence) against the opinion of some men, which thinke that the greatnesse of that Citie standeth not with the profit and securitie of this Realme.
CIties and well peopled places bee called Oppida, in Latine, eyther ab ope danda, or ab opibus, or ab opponendo se ho
. They be named also ciuitates a coeundo, and (vrbes) either of the word vrbare, because the first inclosure of them was described with ye draught of a Plow. Or els ab orbe, for the round compasse that they at the first had.
In the Gréeke a Cittie is tearmed ϖόλις1, eyther of the worde ϖολὺς2, multus, or of πολεῖνω ϖολένεον3: id est, habitare, alere, gubernare.
In the Saxon (or old English) sometimes Tun, which wee now call Towne, deriued of the word Tynan, to inclose or tyne, as some yet speake. But for as much as that word was proper to euery village and inclosed dwelling, therefore our auncestors cal
led their walled townes,buꞂh or biꞂiȝ, and we now Bury and Borow, of the Gréeke word πύργος(as I thinke) which sig
nifieth a Tower or a high building.
The walles of these townes had their name of vallum, because at the first they were but of that earth which was cast out of the trench or ditch wherewith they were enuironed.
But afterward, being made of matter more fit for defence, they were named a muniendo mænia. By the Etimologie of

An Apologie
these names, it may appeare that common weales, Cities and townes were at the first inuented, to the end that men might leade a ciuile life amongst themselues, and bee saued harmeles against their enemies: whereupon Plato saith, Ciuitates ab initio vti
litatis causa constitutæ sunt.
Aristotle 1. Politicorum 2. saith, Ciuitas a natura profecta est: homo enim animal aptum est ad coetus, & proinde ciuitatis origo ad viuendum, institutio ad bene viuendum refertur. And Cicero, (lib. primo de in
uentione) in the beginning saith, Fuit quoddam tempus cum in agris homines passim bestiarum more vagabantur, &c. quo quidem tempore, quidā (magnus viz. vir, & sapiens) dispersos homines in agris, & tectis siluestribus abditos, ratione qua
dam compulit in vnum locum, at q;eos in vnam quamq; rem induxit vtilem & honestam. Vrbibus verò constitutis, fi
dem colere, & institiam retinere discebant, & alijs parere sua voluntate consuescebant, &c
. The same man discourseth nota
blie to the same effect, in his Oration pro Sestio, a little after the middest thereof, shewing that in the life of men dispersed vis bea
reth all the sway: but in the Ciuile life and societie ius is better maintained, &c. This thing well saw King William the Conque
, who in his lawes (fol.125.) saith Burgi et Ciuitates fundata & edificata sunt, ad tuitionē gentium, & populorum Regni, & idcirco obseruari debent cum omni libertate, integritate, & ratione. And his predecessors, king Ethelstane, and King Canu
in their lawes (fol. 62. & 106.) had commanded thus: Oppi
da instaurantur &c
Séeing therefore that as Cicero 2. officior. saith, proxime & secuudum Deos, homines hominibus maximè vtiles esse possunt. And that men are congregated into Cities and common wealthes, for honesty and vtilities sake, these shortly be the com
modities that do come by cities, communalties, and corporations. First, men (by this nearenesse of conuersation) are wtdrawen from barbarous feritie and force, to a certaine mildnes of manners, and to humanitie and iustice: whereby they are contented to giue and take right, to and from their equalles and inferiors, and to heare and obey their heades and superiors. Also the doctrine of God

of the Citie of London.
is more fitly deliuered, and the discipline thereof more aptly to bee executed, in peopled Townes then abroad, by reason of the facilitie of common and often assembling. And consequently, such inhabitantes be better managed in order, and better instructed in wisedome: whereof it came to passe that at the first, they that ex
celled others this way, were called astuti of the Gréeke worde (ἄςυ4) which signifieth a Citie, although the tearme be now de
clined to the worst part (and do betoken euill) euen as Tyrannus, Sophista, andsome such other originally good wordes are fal
len: And hereof also good behauiour is yet called Vrbanitas, be
cause it is rather found in Cities, then elswhere. In summe, by often hearing men be better perswaded in religion, and for that they liue in the eye of others, they bee by example the more easily trayned to iustice, and by shamefastnesse restrained from iniurie.
And whereas common wealthes and kingdomes cannot haue (next after God) any surer foundation, then the loue and good wil of one man towardes an other, that also is closely bred and main
tained in Cities, where men by mutuall societie and companying together, do grow to alliances, communalties and corporations.
The liberall sciences and learninges of all sortes, which be lu
mina reipublicæ
, do flourish only in peopled townes, without the which a realme is in no better case then a man that lacketh both his eyes.
Manual artes, or handie craftes, as they haue for the most part béene inuented in townes and Cities, so they cannot any where els be eyther maintained or amended. The like is to bee saide of Marchandize, vnder which name I comprehende all manner of buying, selling, bartering, exchaunging, communicating of thinges that men néede, to and fro. Wealth and riches (which are truely called Subsidia belli, & ornamenta pacis) are in
creased chiefly in Townes and Cities, both to the prince & people.
The necessitie of the poore and needie is in such places both soo
ner to be espied, and hath meanes to be more charitably relieued.
The places themselues be surer refuges in all extremities of forraine inuasion, and the inhabitantes bee a ready hand and strength of men with munition to oppresse intestine sedition.
Moreouer, for as much as the force of the warres of our

An Apologie
time consisteth chiefly in shotte (all other soldiers being eyther horsemen or footemen armed on lande, or Mariners at the Sea). It séemeth to me that Citizens and Townesmen bee as fitte to be imployed in any of these seruices (that on horsebacke onely excep
ted as the inhabitantes that be drawen out of the Countrie.
Furthermore, euen as these societies and assemblies of men in Cities and great Townes, are a continuall brydle against ti
ranny, which was the cause that Tarquin, Nero, Dionisius, and such others haue alwayes sought to weaken them. So (being well tempered) they are a strong forte and bulwarke not onely in the Aristocratie, but also in the lawfull kingdome, or iust royaltie.
At once the propagation of religion, the execution of good po
licie, the exercise of charitie, and the defence of the countrie, is best performed by Townes and Cities: and this ciuile life ap
procheth nearest to the shape of that misticall bodie wherof Christ is the heade, and men bee the members: whereupon both at the first, that man of God Moyses, in the common wealth of the Is
raelites, and the gouernors of all Countries in all ages sithence haue continually maintayned the same. And to chaunge it were nothing els but to Metamorphose the worlde, and to make wild beastes of reasonable men. To stand longer vpon this it were in re non dubia, vti oratione non necessaria: and therefore I will come to London.


  1. I.e. πόλις ()
  2. I.e.πολὺς ()
  3. I.e. πολεῖνω πολένεον ()
  4. I.e. ἄστυ ()

Cite this page

MLA citation

Stow, John, and William fitz Stephen. Survey of London: An Apology for the City of London. The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 20 Jun. 2018,

Chicago citation

Stow, John, and William fitz Stephen. Survey of London: An Apology for the City of London. The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 20, 2018.

APA citation

Stow, J., & fitz Stephen, W. 2018. Survey of London: An Apology for the City of London. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London. Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

RIS file (for RefMan, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Stow, John
A1  - fitz Stephen, William
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Survey of London: An Apology for the City of London
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
PY  - 2018
DA  - 2018/06/20
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 


RT Web Page
SR Electronic(1)
A1 Stow, John
A1 fitz Stephen, William
A6 Jenstad, Janelle
T1 Survey of London: An Apology for the City of London
T2 The Map of Early Modern London
WP 2018
FD 2018/06/20
RD 2018/06/20
PP Victoria
PB University of Victoria
LA English
OL English

TEI citation

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