‘This is a powerful and busy city, carrying on a great trade with all countries.’
Gabriel Tetzel, German tourist, 1465–7
From Saxon times, London was a centre of trade. In the early 700s the monk Bede described London as ‘an emporium for many nations’ in his History of the English People. Despite invasions, attacks, and the ravages of famine, fire and the Black Death, London remained famed for its merchants and trading success throughout the medieval period.