The Economic and Social Impact of the Civil War upon London



As the centre of the largest concentration of population, wealth and economic activity in England, London’s crucial economic role in determining the outcome of the Civil War is unquestionable and has long been acknowledged.1 The royalist chronicler Sir Philip Warwick was in no doubt of parliament’s advantage in controlling London, which he described as ‘an inexhaustible fountain’,2 and historians have not challenged that view. Yet there has been less interest in the other side of the question, that is, the impact of the war upon London, rather than its effect upon the war. The mood of the citizens as reflected in their petitions and the occasional tumult — and as reported by the Venetian envoy — has been adduced as evidence of the capital’s problems during the war years.3 As part of a more searching and wider-ranging study, Margaret James concluded that because of London’s role in the national economy it was adversely affected by the disruption caused by the war, although it has also been recognised that there were compensations for London’s economy to offset the losses.4


Social Impact Seventeenth Century Military Expenditure English Economy Spending Power 
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© Stephen Porter 1996

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